We enjoyed a bumper week of international action this week with top class action continuing in the UAE, the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Florida and the tours in Portugal and Spain just some of the highlights.
This week we celebrate a multi-winning home-bred stallion, a new mare that has put “a massive smile” on Shane Breen’s face and what it means to hear your national anthem ring out, in our weekly round-up of this week’s international showjumping news.
‘Super smart, super kind and super sassy’
Irish showjumper Shane Breen landed the CSI2* grand prix in Sharjah, UAE, with a very exciting new eight-year-old, Instrumental (Qualdandro x Indoctro). Hickstead-based Shane and Chloe Breen bought the eye-catching bay mare from Lisa and Peder Fredricson just before Christmas. Shane made his competition debut with her in the UAE last month, since when they have been turning out some star performances.
“She’s been lovely,” Shane told H&H. “We started with 1.30m and 1.40m classes the first week, then I hadn’t planned to do a grand prix with her so soon, but she was double clear and fifth in the grand prix last week. Then this week she jumped clear in the first round and I looked at the jump-off course and thought I’d just do what she felt comfortable with and she was fantastic.
“It was just one of those rounds when you’re completely and utterly in your comfort zone, it was a fantastic feeling. She did all the lines on one stride less and the turn to the oxer beautifully. When she jumped out of the double, it gave me such a good feeling that you nearly forget what you’re doing, I had such a big smile on my face.”
As well as being careful and scopey, Shane describes Instrumental as “super smart, super kind and super sassy – the perfect mix”.
“It’s very exciting,” said Shane, who hopes to take some embryos from the mare. “I have to restrain myself a bit because she is only eight, but we’ll see where we end up.”
Shane has also been in the money on his Hickstead Derby hero, Can Ya Makan, “who is getting better with age – he looks incredible,” said Shane as he builds up the 17-year-old for a tilt at this year’s Hamburg and Hickstead derbies, and the 15-year-old Z7 Ipswich, “who is always flying the flag”.
The Irish flag also flew for double five-star winner Jessica Burke, who landed Sunday’s winning round with a flying performance on Express Trend, who she said was “believing even more than I was”, having also lifted the week’s opening two-phase ranking class with Inpulss, “the horse that keeps on giving and keeps me smiling.”
Nine wins and counting from home-bred stallion
Maisy Williams and her family’s seven-year-old home-bred Gold Rush, who is by her father Guy Williams’ brilliant partner Gold Digger, have been making a real name for themselves on the Vilamoura Atlantic Tour, racking up an astounding winning streak in the young horse classes. The pair again won this week’s seven-year-old grand prix in impressive style.
“He’s won loads of classes now – he’s jumped 12, won nine and been placed in another,” Maisy told H&H. “He’s always won a bit, but recently he’s improved – he had a rest and has come back better than ever.”
Maisy began riding Gold Rush as a four-year-old and qualified for last year’s World Breeding Championship for Young Horses at Lanaken.
“Every time he goes in the ring, he tries his hardest,” added Maisy, 16, who hopes to contest newcomers second rounds with the seven-year-old later in the year. “He’s won all the seven-year-old grands prix so far. The courses are big enough and they build them well to get them started for the rest of the season.”
First time lucky for Darragh Kenny amid Irish celebrations in Florida
During week six of WEF in Florida, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny won the CSI3* 1.50m classic riding new partner Vancouver Dreams (main image above) after a 15-horse jump-off. The 13-year-old mare (Valentino 240 x Stakkato) was previously a five-star contender for Austrian showjumper Max Kühner.
“I’ve actually never done a jump-off on her before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Darragh, who is riding the mare to sell but “having some fun with her first”.
“She’s unbelievably careful so I knew I could take a bit of a risk at the double and I did and it paid off and she was brilliant.”
Darragh’s pupil Francis Derwin landed the Hermès U25 welcome class riding AHG Whiterock Cruise Down (Cruisings Micky Finn x Touchdown), who he’s been riding for the past three years, having taken the reins from his sister.
“I think he is very good at being fast without me having to try to be fast,” said Francis, competing in his second year at WEF after earning a bursary to ride under the tutelage of Darragh. “He’s been giving me some great help and I’ve been getting in the ring on plenty of horses, so it’s been a good opportunity to keep learning.
“I wasn’t really planning on trying to win but when I went in, he jumped one, two and three very good, so I thought I’d have a bit of a go when he was jumping well,” said Francis, who also won the Champion Equine Insurance jumper style award for the performance.
Another young Irish rider, Tom Wachman won Sunday’s Hermes under-25 grand prix riding I’m Here, just pipping US-based British showjumper Grace Debney on a new ride, the nine-year-old Jesprit HS, into the runner-up spot.
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