Shane Breen lands the top-billed Al Shira’aa 3* Grand Prix at the Bolesworth International Equestrian Summer Festival

Monday 17 June 2024

Shane Breen lands the top-billed Al Shira’aa 3* Grand Prix at the Bolesworth International Equestrian Summer Festival

After settling for second in week one’s 2* Grand Prix, Shane Breen promised to return to the Bolesworth International Equestrian Summer Festival, presented by Al Shira’aa, to go one better in the 3* Grand Prix.  And he delivered in spectacular style with the home-bred Scarteen.

“It’s nice to win with a home-bred at this level and he jumped well, he’s sharp but has a lot of scope and is very careful,” said Shane, who had a good day at the office, winning the 3* 1.35m Final on Be Golden, another home-bred, and second in the Gusbourne Wines 1* 1.35m Grand Prix aboard BP Arctic Blue.

Spanish course-designer Javier Trenor challenged the 48 riders – including seven Paris 2024 long listers as well as medal winning Olympians – with a tough 13-fence 1.55m track of tall verticals, square oxers and technical lines coupled with a tight time allowed, testing skill, speed and rideability.  Faults were scattered across the course, but the combination claimed several.

“I walked the course and thought it suited my guy, but the first round was quite challenging, and the triple bar before the combination altered the horse’s jump and the vertical going in caught a few,” said Shane.

Only four clears were evident, although The USA’s Maggie Hill left all the fences intact but picked up three time faults.  She got her chance in the jump-off as 25% returned carrying their faults, joined by the eight fastest four-faulters to make a jump-off of 13 going in order of merit.

Going first, the four-faulters dared in round two with increasingly faster times and Paris 2024 hopeful Robert Whitaker led the way on his reigning King George V Gold Cup winner Vermento.  But fittingly, the clears won out, fellow Paris potential team rider Tim Gredley providing the first double clear aboard the 10-year-old Imperial HBF.

“I watched Tim and knew what I needed to beat him and give the last two something to chase.  I made my plan and stuck to it,” said Shane, who quietly increased his speed on Scarteen to swipe more than two seconds off the time.

“Can you beat that?” James Davenport was asked as he entered the ring.  He shook his head ‘No’ but he gave a valiant try with his own and Martin Dawes’ home-bred One To Watch, risking a daring gallop to the final oxer.  He was so close, coming within 0.12 seconds to slot into second place.

Final drawn Irishman Seamus Hughes Kennedy, winner of the first 1.50m world ranking class, was in flying form on ESI Rocky and beat the time by more than three seconds, but at the expense of a pole on the floor, dropping them to fourth.

It has taken Shane time to find the key to the 11-year-old Scarteen (Cardento 933 x Chellano Z).

“He’s sharp, I need to be very quiet with him.  He’s ‘pally’ but he has to know you, then he trusts and gives you 100%.  When I rode him yesterday, he was off his head but we have a little routine with him and lunge him to relax him.  James [Davenport] saw me do this at Windsor he said, ‘That horse won’t be able to jump!’ but he has such incredible energy and lunging calms him, so we did that today,” explained Shane.  “When he’s relaxed, he’s quick across the ground, but if he gets his head up, he tenses.”

James was delighted with the 12-year-old Kannan x Jalisco B mare One To Watch.

“Shane was so fast and smooth; It’s a difficult decision; go steady and nick a rail and end up 12th.  I just went as fast as I possibly could and stuck to my plan.  I’m chuffed, and her owner Martin was here to watch attending his first show for 12 months,” he said.

One To Watch is also considered sharp.

“I rode her mother [Florie Du Moulin] and won an Individual Young Rider European Silver medal with her and her daughter is exactly the same.  I have to work her as she’s sharp as well, but she came out this afternoon exactly where I wanted her,” added James.

The current LeMieux Puissance record at Bolesworth was smashed as Guy Williams with ‘big wall’ specialist Mr Blue Sky UK and Elliott Smith aboard Flamboyant III cleared 2.21m (7ft 2.5 in) to share the honours.

Twelve partnerships set out to face the formidable wall – two on their Puissance debut – but just three were left in the fifth and final round in a family showdown between Guy and daughter Maisy alongside Elliott. 

First off Maisy took on the challenge with gusto but sadly, the 15-year-old Dalton D’Hoyo dislodged bricks.  But her father Guy upheld the family honour to show a clean pair of heels on Elaine Annis’ endlessly scopey 15-year-old Mr Blue Sky. Last-to-go Elliott followed suit with Victoria Smith’s ever-eager 14-year-old Flamboyant to join them in the top spot and etch their names in the Bolesworth Puissance history book.

“It feels amazing and my horse loves Bolesworth, I couldn’t find a better show for him,” said Elliott.  “It was definitely on my schedule to visit, but I didn’t expect to break a record!”   

Guy was particularly proud of his daughter in her second Puissance: “I’m very proud of Maisy, and I was hoping Elliott would knock it down so we could have a family win!”

On the consistent Mr Blue Sky, he added: “Everyone expects him to win now given his past performances in these classes; the crowd gets behind him and he keeps doing it.  He was a bit difficult [in this class] as he was fresh, but he still pulled the win out of the bag.”

British-based Irishman Billy Twomey – winner of the 2023 Bolesworth Grand Prix – claimed victory in Friday’s competitive Helite UK 3* 1.50m Grand Prix qualifier, less than half a second separating the top three.  Sixty-nine competitors came forward in this world-ranking speed class, but Billy set a target and remained ahead by 0.14 seconds despite several serious challenges on the eight-year-old Ace of Hearts Z (Action-Breaker x Labor’s VDL Indorado).  Graham Babes on his sister Stephanie’s much-thought of 10-year-old Monks I Am Casall (I’m Special De Muze x Casall) finished second just ahead of Red Morgan’s Golia in third.

Fellow Irishman Seamus Hughes Kennedy returned triumphant in Thursday’s HM3 Legal 3* 1.50m, denying Billy a double.  Twelve of the 60 starters returned for the jump-off, Seamus and the nine-year-old ESI Rocky claiming a 1.46 second advantage over Billy and Chat Botte ED.  Nicole Lockhead Anderson was best Brit in third aboard Imagine H.

Nicole triumphed in the Aukland Equestrian Five-year-old 1.15m Final, topping a 16-horse decider by more than two seconds on Tom and Jessica Williams’ Ulero TW (Cicero Z Van Paemel x Heartbreaker). 

Serena Kullich outpaced her 23 jump-off rivals to lift the Natural Flake Wood Shavings Six-year-old Final with Silas VTS (Guardian S x Fidjy of Colors) by 1.13 seconds.

Glain Watkin Jones maxed on her final draw to take the Charles Owen Under 25 Grand Prix in flying style on La Vie Est D’Or. 

A 12-fence 1.40m course tested with related and dog-leg lines and only seven from the original field of 38 returning to contend the jump-off.  It was won or lost on the penultimate turn to a vertical followed by a long gallop the length of the arena to the final oxer.  The USA’s Maggie Hill led the way with a deceptively quick round on Carambea Du Rouet PS but Glain remained undaunted and set off with determination.

Quick down the distances, especially between the first two fences, Glain kept La Vie contained for the angled turns and used the mare’s stride to power to the final fence.

“I hadn’t watched anyone jump so I did my own thing. I didn’t think the course would suit her as she can get hot; she’s fine on the long distances but the not [so much] on the tight turns,” said Glain.  “She was awesome, and I nailed that turn to the last-but-one vertical!”

The Dakar VDL x Kreator eight-year-old was purchased from Jake Saywell 18 months ago.

She improves every time out.  She can be quirky and get hot, but I quite like that about her,” said Glain, who is hoping to build up points on the Longines World Ranking List.

Charlotte Ash found the shortest route in the Charles Owen Under 25 1.35m speed to demote her 44 rivals by 0.29 seconds on the Big Star x Calido I eight-year-old mare Cali Star.

Mark Bunting launched a late, surprise challenge to snatch the Dallamires Stables 3* 1.40m Winning Round on Kiaminka.  Eighteen of the 69 starters returned to make their bid in a thrilling round two against the clock with Seamus Hughes Kennedy posting a seemingly unbeatable round on Echonix.  But Mark had other ideas with the nine-year-old mare Kiaminka (Floris x Hors La Loi II).  Immediately up on the clock between the first two fences with an ultra-tight turn, he maintained the relentless pace, galloping to the final oxer to wipe 0.25 seconds off the time and take the win.

Joe Fernyhough beat all 59 rivals to land an early Dallamires Stables 3* 1.40m two-phase with 0.61 seconds to spare on the eight-year-old mare Calcourt Countdown (Westpoint Quickfire x Landjunge). Will Fletcher claimed third here on the 18-year-old Persimmon (Salut RP x Indorado), winner of Thursday’s Voltaire Design 3* 1.35m.

Joe Whitaker galloped to the top of the 3* 1.35m speed on the 12-year-old Quality Time daughter High Quality 24 hours later, beating Joe Davison’s Denny Love Della Caccia into second by 1.58 seconds.

Ireland’s Shane Breen seized the Voltaire Design 3* 1.35m Final in the latter stages of the 12-horse jump-off with Be Golden, demoting long-time leader Alfie Bradstock aboard Courege Du Gibet by 0.56 seconds.

Abbie Bevan has quickly hit winning form this year after Fabiola Fairy V has 12 months off in 2023 to produce a foal and, just two weeks after qualifying for the HOYS Events Through A Lens Talent Seeker Final with a win at Northcote Stud, the pair claimed victory in the 1* Grand Prix.  The 66 starters were reduced to 11 over a 1.30m course, Abbie and the Indorado x Nassau 14-year-old flying into the top spot by 0.70 seconds to push Melissa Garry’s Billy Elsyng into second.

Gemma Stevens, winner in 2019, saved the best until last to take the JCL Insurance Brokers Eventing Grand Prix on Johan-Some and pocket £5,000.  British Eventing Olympic rider and international showjumper Gemma, the last of 40 competitors, delivered a near-perfect round despite rolling a rail and, clearing the Joker, she reduced her overall time penalties to win by 2.35 seconds, beating Olympian great Pippa Funnell into fifth.

“I absolutely love riding in these classes. It suits my style, and I’m thrilled for Johan-Some and his owners – they deserve this win more than I do! I focused on keeping the round smooth, looking early on all my turns, and Johan-Some was so quick and clean – I’m thrilled!” said Gemma.

Her partner, Linda Allen’s Lexicon 10-year-old Johan-Some, previously evented at four-star level and was once an Olympic hopeful.  Following injury and rehabilitation, he has transitioned to classes such as the Eventing Grand Prix and showjumping, recently qualifying for the Horse of the Year Show Speedi-Beet Grade C Final at South of England.

The overall team competition was won by Team Charles Owen of Sarah Bullimore, Lucy Stimson, Morven Pringle and Emily Gieron.

Jasmine Gutsell made her Bolesworth International debut a winning one with victory in the Cyto Cure VET Amateur 1.20m Grand Prix on Killuppaun Contador.

“This is quite a major event for us, we don’t usually spend this much money,” said Jasmine, on her first visit to this amazing venue.

Twelve of the 32 starters returned for the jump-off, mid-drawn Jasmine hitting top gear to relegate early leader Jessica Williams and Miss Bubbles by 0.81 seconds.

“The course suited her, she’s so quick on her feet and fast thinking.  She’s only 15.2hh but sometimes that works in her favour as she’s quite nippy and as we were at Bolesworth, I just went for it,” said Jasmine, who bought the Irish-bred 14-year-old mare nine years ago.

“I’d tried several horses, but they all failed the vet and, although I wasn’t that taken with her at the time, she passed the vet.  Now, I think she’s the best thing ever.  She’s a spoilt child, she knows she’s good but she’s very loving with a big heart.”

Annie Salthouse topped a 13-horse jump-off to take the Peel Port Logistics Amateur 1.10m Grand Prix with the 14-year-old Fame (Harley x Investment), beating Cassi McDade and Quality Touch Z into second place by 0.44 seconds.

Bethany Hodgkinson returned triumphant in the Dodson & Horrell Amateur 1m Grand Prix with the eight-year-old mare Tenelick Diamond Rose. Seven came through to the jump-off with Grace Wallace, winner of both Amateur 1m classes earlier in the week on Eau Claire V, out to make it a hat-trick.  But she had to settle for second on this occasion as Bethany galloped ahead to take the win by 1.68 seconds.

Spectators were enthralled and entertained by the exciting Mini Major Pairs Relay as the partnerships became ever more daring. Late drawn Lorena Hanson-Lamb (Mini) and Paul Sims (Major) pulled off the tightest of turns to take the win by 1.39 seconds over Kaite Burns (Mini) and Sven Hadley (Major). 

Rider Oliver Tuff joined forces with driver Josh Chrich as Team Cyto Cure VET to win the Lexus Chester Ride and Drive.  Eleven competitive pairs came forward in this fun class, riders jumping a 1.25m course before leaping into an all-electric Lexus to negotiate a coned course with tight turns and a slalom. Oliver and Josh posted a consistent, clean round to finish without penalty to win by 0.37 seconds, although last-to-go determined Jay Halim and Neil Crowdon for Team Lexus gave them a run for the money, driver Neil picking up a four second penalty to drop into second place.


Image: Shane Breen and Scarteen. Credit: Suzanne Jones

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