Thursday 05 July 2018

Hickstead-based Irishman Shane Breen left the best until last at a busy, sizzling hot Keysoe to claim both the feature 2* grand prix and concluding 1.35m.  The man was on form, the victory double came just a week after the biggest career win – the 5* 1.60m Global Champions Tour grand prix in Monte Carlo.

A total of forty-four competitors tackled the grand prix track but cleverly constructed technical related lines saw several top riders drop out of contention on one mistake, including Britain’s top ladies Laura Renwick and Louise Saywell.  An eventual six clears came forward to the jump-off, although three more were considered unlucky after leaving all fences intact but returning one time fault apiece.

Shane was riding high but in his usual cool-headed manner, he smoothly guided the versatile 13-year-old Canturo stallion Can Ya Makan – winner of the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial and third in the Hickstead Derby just 10 days before – into victory by 0.52 seconds with a deceptively fast round. 

Another equally cool British-based Irishman, Billy Twomey eased the 14-year-old stallion Ardcolum Duke into second, leaving Kerry Brennan to pick up the best placed Brit in third on the ever-eager 15-year-old Wellington M.

Shane also raced ahead in the final 1.35m two-phase, outpacing his 35 rivals to secure a second win with just a tenth of a second to spare on the Clinton 9-year-old Clintofino over Britain’s Bethanie Knight on the eight-year-old Foss.

Jess Dimmock came to the fore in the 1.45m two-phase with the British-bred Billy Blue Bell, holding off all challenges from her 38 rivals to win with 0.39 second to spare on the 10-year-old Billy Congo daughter.  Kerry and Wellington M settled for second on this occasion.

Matt Sampson has quickly established a partnership with Jake Elliott’s Django Blue and following his 4* win at Bolesworth International, he guided the Chacco-Blue x Grandilot 9-year-old to triumph in day one’s hotly-contended 1.40m speed class.  It was close as just 0.03 seconds separated him from Paul Barker in second place on the Kannan 11-year-old Happy Boy.   

Kayleigh Watts scored a double victory, heading day one’s 57-entry 1.20m two-phase on Winde by 1.22 seconds before taking day two’s 1.35m on the Eldorado Van De Zeshoek 9-year-old mare Ebriolita.   Sixty-seven contended this speed class but Kayleigh was on form to take the winner’s purse by almost two seconds.  Shane had to settle for second here with the Colestus 8-year-old Colmar.

Laura Renwick was another to post a double, taking both 5 and 6-year-old finals on two promising home-breds, Sky’s The Limit and Maverick respectively.

Twelve of the 40 starters reached the jump-off but there was no stopping Laura as she forged ahead to take the top spot by 0.70 seconds on the Diamant De Semilly gelding Maverick – out of the Heartbreaker mare Beluga II, formerly Laura’s top International speed horse.

Again twelve contended the five-year-old jump-off, yielded from 27 starters, with Laura taking the win by 0.61 seconds aboard Sky’s The Limit – by No Limit and out of the Tristan De Quelen mare Reine Du May, another former International ride for Laura.

“Two of our super home-bred youngsters doing us proud,” said Laura, afterwards.

Sally Goding outpaced 74 contenders in the initial 1.30m speed class with Levitano to take the win by 0.44 seconds in a heavily British-dominated class.  Carron Nicol eased the Nonstop seven-year-old Nistria V/D Winning Z into second just ahead of Lauren Edwards on the British-bred seven-year-old Kannan daughter Kesara.

Joss Williams claimed a hat-trick over the three days.  After heading the 1.10m and 1.15m on the first two days with the 16-year-old Zandokan Z by handsome margins, Joss rounded off the final day with victory in the 1.25m with his 18-year-old seasoned campaigner Culmore Prospect.  Fifty-five contended this speed class but none were a match for Joss and this excitable Irish-bred mare as she matched his enthusiasm against the clock stride for stride to win with 2.35 seconds in hand.  Lucy Struthers was their nearest rival to take second on the 10-year-old Ascon Z.

“I dropped her down a level and she blew it away,” said Joss on his favourite chestnut mare Culmore Prospect.

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