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Askeaton - Foxhunter Thursday
Askeaton Foxhunter Thursday
Billy Arietta Foxhunter Thursday
BE Khalissy Foxhunter Thursday
BE Khalissy Foxhunter Thursday
BE Khalissy Foxhunter Friday
Billy Arietta Foxhunter Friday
Askeaton - Foxhunter Friday
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Hickstead Derby Show
Hickstead Derby Show

The best place to start with remembering the Hickstead Derby Show 2022 is definitely at the end: when you know how big and important a plan is, how well researched, how well practiced; every little bit of the plan covered, and how incredibly close that plan came to fruition in 2019 and how much the hope and dreams of not only Shane, but Chloe and the huge team behind him - not only the team in 2022, but also all the collective team that have worked at Breen Equestrian in the last 17 years - watching the seventy something minutes of the Hickstead Derby between Can ya Makan's clear round and Dermot Lennon having four faults at the rails at the bottom of the bank was a very, very long time. Really I'd have been absolutely delighted for any of the first four to win, but finally this really was Shane's year - cementing a tremendous win with second on Golden Hawk. It was just a wonderfully emotional moment for so many reasons, and I'm sure different ones for different people. It was very well celebrated long into the night, just as it should have been.

Saturday was an equally wonderful day of competition. Charlene Bastone set out making it look deceptively all to easy on Halina, until Carlos sped past all his Hickstead demons into the lead, Charlene pipped herself into third, but Harriet and Silver Lift just did their thing so beautifully to emphasize their place at the top of Speed Derby history.

The whole week was just lovely. So good to see the trade stand aisles full of people, perfect weather and great jumping. On Wednesday I only had Arietta to jump, and she jumped an OK round in Ring 4 in the 1.25. We're turning yet another page in our partnership as her ride improves and the jumps get bigger and on a very hot afternoon she felt a little bit flat.

We had a very long day on Thursday with Khalissy jumping in the 1.20 first thing in Ring 4, and Arietta in the last class in the same ring. They each had a fence in the jump-off, but jumped well.

On Wednesday Arietta kicked off with a great round in the 1.30 in Ring 2. It was big and square enough for only the second 1.30 she's jumped since Spain, but she jumped and traveled so well on the lovely grass, so I was very sad to have the last fence in the first half when having such a good time. Khalissy also jumped very well in the Foxhunter, just backing off the brush jump in the jump-off and having the back rail, but she is turning into such a great little competitor, and such a professional in the ring.

Back home we have said a very sad goodbye to April Kitchener, who has now gone to be Yard Manager to Gemma Tattersall. I so enjoyed working with April, she was fantastic with the horses, and such a great support to me and we will all miss her. I was very lucky that Gemma Jelinska came to help me at Hickstead, who also knows me very well. I am very pleased to welcome Ellie Collins on to the team. Ellie has worked in show jumping locally for some time, and is used to grooming both at home and at national and international shows. With Ellie's first full week here completed she has made a great start. We have our first show together at Keysoe next week and I am thoroughly looking forward to it.

As always many thanks to my sponsors and supporters:

Saracen Horse Feeds
Just Equine
Protexin Equine
MacWet Gloves
NDS Equine

Felbridge 2nd Round Show
Felbridge 2nd Round Show

The third show in quick succession was the Newcomers 2nd Round show at Felbridge. I love Felbridge, and this show was no exception. We had a very good first day, Askeaton jumped beautifully round the 1.10 for 6th place, BE Khalissy had a minor placing in the Foxhunter and Billy Arietta jumped a lovely, slow round in the Foxhunter, as a warm-up for the 1.30 on Saturday.

Saturday started with Askeaton in the Foxhunter. She warmed up well, but was very strong, she jumped the first few fences well, but ran me to the combination and then stopped! However, we mustered our bravery and she jumped through the second time and jumped bravely round the rest of the course. BE Khalissy was very lit up after her recent triumphs and had the last part of the combination, so when she then ran me to a bit oxer in the jump-off I decided to keep her for another day. After a less than auspicious start to the day Billy Arietta then jumped a fabulous clear in the 1.30, setting us up perfectly for the Newcomers 2nd Round on Sunday.

We had an early start on Sunday with Khalissy and Askeaton in the first class, the Accumulator. This is a great fun class which is always sponsored by Richard and Sam Baker. Askeaton was early to go and popped round very neatly, but just caught the joker behind, Khalissy then stormed round to finish 4th behind some more experienced speed horses, so I was very pleased with her. We then had a long wait for Arietta to jump in the Newcomers 2nd Round. I thought the course was very fair, technical, but considerably smaller than in Wales. Arietta jumped round really well, she just had four faults towards the end, and perhaps now she has a little more mileage I wouldn't choose to jump for two days before an important class, but I felt we needed the 1.20 to set us up for the 1.30, and that in turn made me feel very confident for the 2nd round class.

Overall we had a very good show. Askeaton, whilst not back to her form in Wales, was at least jumping round, Khalissy continues to be very competitive at 1.20 and is nearly ready to step up to 1.30 and I feel that I am properly getting the hang of riding Arietta over bigger courses now.

The horses will now have 8 days in the field before we prepare for Hickstead. It will be nice for them to unwind a little and we are going to spend a few days with all the family in France.

As always many thanks to April and Mark, we had a long and busy weekend, and to my fantastic sponsors, Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Premium Equine, NDS Equine and MacWet Gloves and thank you to all the team at Felbridge for a lovely show, fabulous courses, wonderful relaxed atmosphere and great competition.

CSI1* Chard
CSI1* Chard

It was lovely to be back at Chard for the second running of their CSI. So many improvements have been made in the last 12 months. Lovely tented stabling and a new warm up arena with breathtaking views over the valley below. Jane Gregory and her team even managed a 100% improvement in the weather.

Having left home at 6am to beat the M25 traffic April arrived before me and the stables were all beautifully set up when I arrived at about 10. April got the horses trotted up very quickly and then we let them settle before riding them all in the afternoon. Somerset is proper dairy cow country, so there were acres of delicious grass for them to graze on in the afternoon.

I didn't jump until the afternoon on Friday, so I rode Askeaton and Arietta in the morning. Khalissy was jumping at about 12 so she just got a good warm up before her class. Khalissy jumped in the Silver Tour Two Phase and jumped a super round to finish just outside the prize money - she was a little bit hard to turn on the first jump-off turn. Both Askeaton and Arietta jumped in the Gold Tour 1.25 Two Phase. Askeaton warmed up well, perhaps a little bit fresh, and jumped the first four fences really beautifully, but flatly refused to jump the 5th fence which was a double. Arietta then was a little bit strong and wild in the same class, resulting in four faults at the second fence - particularly irritating in a two phase as we didn't get to jump the jump-off part. A bit of head scratching about Askeaton ensued. She had been a bit quiet in the stable and perhaps she was in season, perhaps I was a tiny bit deep to the fence, but it is very unlike her to refuse to play. I had a lovely pub supper with Trevor Breen and David Simpson, and watching the Nations Cup in Lisbon reminded me that even the best riders can have some pretty bad days.

I jumped late again on Saturday, but rode them all in the morning. Askeaton went straight to bed after I had ridden her and didn't get up for an hour, so I decided not to jump her. Both Khalissy and Arietta jumped in the Gold Tour, the 1.25 Speed. Arietta was unlucky to have a pole coming out of the double, and Khalissy was a little star - I thought it was a strong enough course for her, and she stormed round to finish 11th. I had a lovely evening with my friend Sarah Jane Tillard and felt relatively relaxed about Sunday.

I got to the show early to give the horses a leg stretch. Askeaton felt in exceptionally good form so I decided to jump her in the Silver Tour Grand Prix. Once again she warmed up well, but this time only agreed to jump the first fence. She felt as though she was being pretty cheeky, but they can't talk, so who knows. We'll go quietly at home, and jump a smaller class at Felbridge and go from there. She jumped brilliantly in Chepstow the previous weekend. I thought the course was a perfect test for Khalissy, strong enough, but not too huge, and she jumped a fantastic clear round, followed by a clear in a very competitive jump-off to finish 6th. A really good weekend for her with four clears out of four rounds. I just had Arietta left for the Gold Tour Grand Prix. Another very good course from Ben Townley with plenty to jump and a very technical final line. Unfortunately Arietta had the second fence (this was the bogey fence in both finals) and then jumped a lovely round. A very educational weekend for her round some great courses, she is learning all the time, and I am learning more about riding her. It was lovely that both Sarah Jane and my lovely godmother Lavinia Grant-Ives were both able to come and watch and catch up.

We had a very late night by the time we got back to Sussex, so we have had three quiet days here while we all recharge our batteries for Felbridge's three day show this weekend.

As always many thanks to April for all her hard work, there was a lot of walking and running around, and as happens so often, we were either twiddling our thumbs or doing everything at the same time!

Thank you also to my brilliant sponsors: Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Equine, Just Equine, MacWet Gloves and NDS Equine for all your help

Chard is definitely a show to keep in the calendar. Jane Gregory and her team have done a brilliant job of developing the showground, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and "can-do". They gave a lovely welcome party on Thursday evenin.g and it was lovely to catch up with so many friends.