‘We don’t need to run round Europe’: Queen Elizabeth Cup winner sings home shows’ praises

  • Shane Breen took his third Queen Elizabeth II Cup victory at the Royal International Horse Show — on a horse who was making her debut in the International Arena.

    The Irishman and Haya, a 10-year-old Mylord Carthago mare owned by Breen Equestrian and Old Lodge, were last to go in the jump-off, knocking over a second off the speedy time set by Nicole Lockhead Anderson and Tom Williams’ Miss Aragona PS.

    Only three of the 28 starters had jumped clear in the first round, the third being Joe Fernyhough on Rowland Fernyhough’s Calcourt Particle, and Shane said the 1.50m track took as much riding as yesterday’s (29 July) Nations Cup.

    “I thought it was plenty big enough,” he said. “When I walked in the arena this morning, to walk the five-star international course, this was up too and I had to stop a minute to see which course to walk because there was no difference. This was a more difficult track to ride, and it should be as it’s a grand prix, and it’s what we strive towards.”

    Shane, who has now lifted the Royal International Queen’s Cup three times, said: “It’s fantastic. It would be nice if I could win the King’s Cup too! But it’s nice to have three queens. You can’t do this without great horses and great owners, and I’m very fortunate to have that. Old Lodge are great supporters of showjumping and [Haya is] incredibly careful.

    “I was a bit apprehensive as she’s never been in there before, and only jumped water in a sand ring but I was so impressed with her; nothing fazed her and she was up for the job.”

    Shane added that in the jump-off, he managed to watch Joe’s classy clear before he went.

    “Then I saw Nicole and thought ‘Jesus! How am I going to beat that?” he said. “I thought I’d try to do the same round she did and go a smidgen tighter at the [middle] vertical, and maybe that’s how I did it.”

    Nicole, who is now riding for Guy Williams’ brother Tom, is no stranger to success in the International Arena, but said it was “an incredible feeling, to be beaten by one of the best”.

    “My horse gave me everything,” she added. “I’m delighted. Guy helped me, and just told me to ride my own round and try to beat Joe. I’m very lucky Tom gave me the ride on her, and it’s amazing to be in that arena.”

    Joe, who had not competed at Hickstead since his pony days, jumped two foot-perfect clears to finish third. He said his first draw put him at a slight disadvantage, but “my horse spends so much time in the air, I couldn’t have done a lot different”.

    Shane added that the “fantastic” Queen Elizabeth II Cup is very important as part of producing horses and riders.

    “These three horses, and all the horses, go through the county shows which are, I think, fantastic,” he said. “The county shows really need to be supported. They’re great for the seven- to nine-year-old horses, to do the trials, and we really need to support what we have at home.

    “The one we have near here, the South of England, is amazing. These shows will make great riders. One thing Douglas Bunn built Hickstead for was for English people to produce horses to take on the world. The county shows do that too; we don’t need to run around Europe when we’ve got that at home.”

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