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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.