‘Heart of a lion, mind of a professor’: brilliant mare hits the big time

  • When Shane Breen won last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the Royal International with the stunning grey mare Haya, we were instantly smitten. But now she’s proved she’s competitive at the highest level, finishing second in her five-star grand prix debut – to the mighty combination of Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward, no less.

    Closer to home, there was an emotional victory for Billy Twomey and the “freakishly” talented stallion Chat Botte ED, who was owned by the late Sue Davis, in the CSI3* grand prix at Bolesworth International. Read on for all this week’s international showjumping news and results.

    ‘It took the best combination in the world to beat us!’

    The €480,000 Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix of Stockholm was won by home hero Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward, but chasing them home just 0.06sec slower was Shane Breen riding his 2022 Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner Haya, who was making her five-star grand prix debut. Marcus Ehning and Stargold finished third.

    Shane described the stunning grey mare as having “The heart of a lion, the mind of a professor”.

    “I’ve been riding her a lot in speed classes, so I knew she was pretty quick,” said Shane. “But I thought to get on the podium would be amazing, to win would just be another dream. To come second, I am absolutely over the moon.

    “It took the best combination in the world to beat us!”

    Scott Brash and Hello Mr President also secured a win at the five-star show.

    British victory at Spruce Meadows

    Team GB rider Amanda Derbyshire landed the 1.50m RBC Capital Markets Cup 1.50m class at Spruce Meadows riding the stallion Otto BG.

    “It’s a whole different ball game out there in the international ring,” said Amanda. “It very much reminds me of Aachen and Hickstead – big famous rings – and it’s very special to ride in them.”

    Second-placed Conor Swail also secured a 1.45m win of his own with Gamble, who has a 42% top-10 strike rate in 1.40m-plus classes, while his countryman Darragh Kenny braved the rain to win with Chic Chic, as well as the CSI2* grand prix on Vancouver Dreams.

    “It was a great day, I haven’t been to Spruce Meadows in probably four or five years and it’s a fantastic facility,” said Darragh. “The rainy weather didn’t bother me.”

    Nations Cup thriller

    The defending champions in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup series, Belgium, won in Sopot, Poland, just beating first-round leaders Argentina, who are bidding for Olympic qualification, by one point. Germany and Switzerland finished third and fourth, separated only by time.

    “The most nervous of all today was me,” said chef d’equipe Peter Weinburg. “They kept their nerve and produced brilliant round after another and that’s how we won.”

    Showjumping news: ‘Luck was on my side’

    Shane Sweetnam won the $100,000 CSI3* 1.50m Lugano Diamonds grand prix on the Split Rock Jumping Tour with the fastest of only two double clears round Alan Wade’s track with new ride Gilona AO.

    “Today, luck was on my side, so I knew what I had to do and I was able to execute it,” said Shane.

    A poignant Bolesworth victory

    Ireland’s Billy Twomey won the CSI3* Cavago grand prix at the Bolesworth International with the “freakishly” talented 15-year-old stallion Chat Botte ED, owned by the late Sue Davies.

    “He is an outstanding jumper who’s always been freakish over a fence,” said Billy of his breeding stallion, who finished ahead of countryman Jonathan Smyth on Mulvin Lui, with Guy Williams third on Ernie Of Greenhill Z for Great Britain.

    “It’s an emotional win. Bolesworth is only 20 minutes from Pewit Hall, where Sue used to live. I sometimes pick up my phone and have to stop myself from trying to call her, as I always called her after a win. She was a huge supporter of mine for 22 years, which is almost unheard of in our sport.”

    You can read all the showjumping news, including the full report from Bolesworth International, in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, in the shops Thursday 22 June.

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