Daisy and Trevor: "My great friend and family member has once again won the Equestrian.com Derby"
Daisy writes her final Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting blog in a somewhat excited state, after her friend and family member wins the Derby for the second year running...
"I do appreciate I wrote this very thing, at this very time last year but wahooooooooo. Wahoooooooooooo. Wooooooooooo. Hoooooooo. Did I mention wahoo?
Another incredibly emotional day here at the Equestrian.com Derby. All my careful notes from the day have been thrown out the window – not only by the glitter bomb of happiness due to Trevor’s win, but also the surprising amount of champagne that one has been able to fit in since!
I am genuinely speechless to be sitting here, writing that my great friend and family member (my sister’s brother-in-law for those who can keep track) Trevor Breen, has once again won the Hickstead Derby.
He has also stormed into the history books with Loughnatousa WB, who becomes the first ever horse to win the world famous Derby with two different riders. Bravo WB, bravo Trev. What. A. Day.
I will leave the proper journalists of this world to write about the nail-biting competition, but the last three rounds seemed to take an eternity! Writing as a family member, I can only say the thigh-squeezing, shoulder slapping, lip-biting reality of powerlessly waiting for the end was almost too much to bear.
Poor Caroline, Trevor’s wife, who was clearly as nervous as the rest of us actually had to remind us all (including her parents who have nursed her for the last few months) that she still has a broken shoulder and would we kindly all stop slapping and squeezing it!
I am prone to suffering from foot in mouth disease, and said to Trevor after his win: 'I have to admit I didn’t put any money on you and Addy, as I didn’t think it was going to be his year again'.
My sister Lizzie however, knower of all things Derby, is currently weighed down with all the winnings in her pocket, after correctly predicting the result!
A special mention must be given to Patricia Brown, WB’s owner, a true supporter of British showjumping, and of Hickstead itself. She is genuinely happier to be in the background and let her beloved horses and their riders do the talking. Thank you Patricia, and congratulations once again.
Obviously on a day like today one’s mind wanders to the people who aren’t here to celebrate. No one would be prouder than Trevor’s mother, who sadly passed away two years ago.
It won’t be long until the glitz and drama begins again and I am very much looking forward to our Longines Royal International Horse Show in just over a month’s time, by which time I will hopefully have recovered from tonight’s celebrations! So, see you then, get home safely, and one more hip hip hooray for the wonderful WB and equally wonderful Trevor."
Debbie Harris is the most capped player in UKPA history
International polocrosse player Debbie Harris writes about preparations for the World Cup
We have arrived in South Africa and tomorrow is the horse draw, which means we will get the first ride on our equestrian partners.
Before arriving here, we have been extremely busy with squad training, fundraising and still playing the UK season. All the horses are finally in work and fit, including Passo – more widely known as ‘The Creamy Mare’!
She is my one-in-a-million horse and has picked up a lot of Best Horse prizes at tournaments over the last couple of years, including Best Horse of the Season 2014. She is very well known as she is the only palomino horse playing top grade polocrosse in the UK.
The squad had more training weekends in February with player/coach Jason Webb and we also held regional fundraising training camps across the country, which were open to the rest of the UK membership. A huge thank-you to everyone who came – in doing so you supported us on our journey to the World Cup. As a self-funded team every penny donated and raised is greatly appreciated.
In May we put on an exhibition match in Kent against the ‘rest of the world’ team, comprised of some of the top players in the country. It was great preparation for us before we head out to South Africa and it was good to see so many supporters. Thank-you to the under 16 squad who helped raise a lot of money for us at the event.
We were also invited to Longdole Polo Club to give a demonstration of Polocrosse at their RDA charity event. It was well received and again it was great to get more exposer for the sport. As team captain I was also invited to take part in their celebrity electric-bicycle polo match. Which I must say was more spills and crashes than talent and accuracy!
On that note, the next time I blog will be after the World Cup, when I’ll hopefully be able to report on our brilliant success. Wish us luck!
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Trevor Breen and Adventure De Kannan tackle The Bank
Ever wondered how to ride the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby? H&C reporter Amy-Clare Martin got the inside scoop from top riders walking the iconic course.
So just how do riders negotiate the likes of the terrifying Derby Bank and the infamously tricky Devil’s Dyke? Check out our fence by fence guide to making it round in one piece:
Fences 1, 2 and 3:The Cornishman, The White Oxer and The Double of Water Ditches
It may look like an easy start, but in the first few fences lurks one of hardest challenges on the course. Caroline Breen, wife of last year’s winner Trevor, tells us more.
“You start with the first fence which is quite small and gets them going, then the second may look small buts it’s extremely wide,” she told H&C.
“Then you’re straight round the corner to a double of ditches which is an extremely tricky fence. The water tray is out at the front of the fence, which is unusual because they are normally behind. This is one of the most difficult fences in the course.
“This is a fence you would want to practise beforehand, and a lot of riders build fences like this at home.”
Fences 4, 5 and 6: The Black Gate, The Wall and The Privet Hedge Oxer
This is supposedly one of the easier sections of the course, but with the Black Gate and the Wall standing at a whopping 1.60m – it’s harder than it looks. Heading for home and running slightly downhill, riders will have to keep the horses on their hocks because knocking a brick out of that wall could cost them dearly.
The Privet Hedge Oxer is a deceptively tricky fence which had to be changed recently after horses kept trying to drop a back leg in the middle of it. With a lower hedge line the horses should jump it clear - but it does catch some out.
Fence 7:The Road
Irish rider David Simpson will tackle the course with new ride Gotti Van Paemel. H&C caught him striding the distance across The Road, and asked him how he planned to tackle the obstacle.
“I am going to keep to the right because it makes it a bit smaller because the ground slopes. I hope to hop on – you need plenty of leg to make sure they get on because they always have look. Then it’s a nice three strides and you're off,” said David.
Fences 8 and 9:The Derby Bank and The White Rails
This is it – the big one – the fence that leaves horses, riders quaking in their boots. Standing 3.20m off the ground - and with steep slope down - this is the obstacle that sorts the Derby winners from the Derby wannabes.
Riders canter up the back of the bank, jump a rail on the top and then take the plunge to the ground. Not only must they avoid landing in a crumpled heap at the bottom, but they have just two strides to recover to clear the decidedly flimsy looking white rails.
Nicole Pavitt gave us her tips on making it down in one piece: “Keep sitting back and hopefully jump off about three-quarters of the way down. Let them have a quick look but keep the momentum to make sure they go.”
Fence 10:Devil’s Dyke
The name Devil’s Dyke is definitely well-earned. This is the other part of the course that riders dread – and it has caught out hundreds of Derby hopefuls over the competition’s 54 year history.
David Simpson has ridden the course before, but the Dyke is still something he worries about.
“The only thing that scares me on this course is the Devil’s Dyke,” he said. “You have to ride it a mixture of determined and careful. That’s why first-timers rarely win the Derby – no matter how many times you school horses and where you take them you cannot replicate the Dyke.”
Fences 11, 12, 13 and 14: The Water Jump, The Derby Rails, The Open Ditch and the Balustrade
The Hickstead water jump seems pretty wide already – but it might shock H&C readers to know that it used to be EVEN WIDER. After opening up to clear the water, riders must sit up to bring their horses back to clear the enormous Derby Rails.
Guy Williams, who is riding his 2010 winner Skip Two Ramiro again this year, gave H&C a top tip to jump the Derby Rails clear – aim for the post in the middle of the fence to make sure those rails don’t come down.
Reigning champion Trevor Breen advised H&C: “When you jump the Devil’s Dyke you have to pass the exit and the horses think they have done enough. It is important to keep them on the bridle and focussed on the job.
“It’s a very big water so make sure you keep the revs up and then get them back to jump the rails. Then you have to keep their head up to jump the Open Ditch. The Balustrade is tough when you have jumped so many solid fences so you really have to keep them on the job there as well.”
Fence 15:The Double of Gates
The Double of Gates is a big ask in any showjumping course, let alone when horses are as tired as they after negotiating the first 14 fences.
James Fisher told H&C: “It’s about as big a one-stride as you can get in a double. It’s a big stretch and the horses are tired. You have to jump in and make sure you give them a big squeeze to get out – often people knock the back bar.”
Fence 16:The Rustic Spread
This is the final push, and the last thing riders want to do is ruin everything at the last. Anyone who is clear at this stage must have their heart in their mouth as they approach the final fence and they need nerves of steel to make it home clear.
William Funnell, three-time winner with the incredible Cortaflex Mondriaan, is definitely an expert at making it to the end in one piece. He told H&C: “I come to this fence thinking ‘do not knock it down!’ I always start to ride it a little bit to the left, because for some reason horses tend to drift to the right.”
"My amazing glittery heels are not for jumping on but for gazing at in wonder"
Daisy offers sympathies to her good friend Harriet Nuttall, and a teary goodbye to a Hickstead stalwart
"Another quick blog because I’m running off (and when I say running, you can see from the shoes that I mean tottering!) to one of my favourite night’s of the year - the Celebrity Derby Polo Challenge.
This is where showjumping’s greats try their hand at the sport of kings. For those who haven’t seen it before, it’s H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S! And quite interesting, as you see what different skill sets each equestrian discipline requires. For a bunch of champions on horseback they manage to hit the ball surprisingly few times – if at all!
Were it not for the fact that we’ve discussed many times before how annoying and mean the "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" line is (take note, journos) – I would sadly be using it now for my poor friend Harriet Nuttall.
With a plethora of rosettes to her name, last year she led the British Speed Derby all the way through the class and was pipped to the winner’s post by Guy Williams, who was last into the ring. And it’s just happened all over again!
The crowd went absolutely mental when Harriet stormed home and into the lead, despite having a fence down. However, it was not to be her year – yet again – when Guy came in, second from the end, and proved his reputation as one of the best speed riders in the world. He even set a new record time for the course.
Bravo Guy, such a well deserved win, but kindly tell your horse that my amazing glittery heels are not for jumping on in the presentation but for gazing at in wonder! Harriet, keep your chin up, and rock on next year.
Another champion who deserves a mention is John Youngs, who has been part of the Hickstead team for over 45 years, firstly as a judge in Ring 4 before rising up through the ranks to become President of the International Ground Jury and latterly President of the Jury of Appeal. John is like a grandfather figure to us younger Bunns.
One of life’s true gents, he has finally decided it is time to enjoy his retirement. His role at Hickstead will now be as devoted husband to his wife Frances, our assistant show director! We did a special presentation for him today, and he even received a standing ovation.
Bravo John, you are one in a million and Hickstead simply would not be what it is today without having enjoyed your unstinting loyalty and service over the years.
Right, better go before I start crying again. Roll on tomorrow's Derby. I’m keen for another Breen on the podium, although I’ll settle for a Whitaker of the Ellen variety, so please everyone keep your fingers crossed."
In Daisy Bunn's new blog post, she reflects on Hickstead reaching out to a whole new global audience...
"A quick blog tonight, I have to fly to a sponsors’ function, no rest for the wicked… not that I’m complaining!
We’ve been rapt this afternoon by the Bunn Leisure Master’s Challenge. For those who aren’t familiar with the class, it’s a competition we started a few years ago in tribute to our late father. Dad’s nickname was the Master of Hickstead, and the course was designed by Bob Ellis and Kelvin Bywater, who were great friends of Dad and very familiar with his love of tricky, technical and testing tracks. After a round against the clock, with time added for faults incurred, riders then have just seconds to calm their horses down and put them to four enormous white gates, which increase in size. Described by Harriet Nuttall as "a bit disconbombulating", it turns things on its head, demanding power after speed instead of the other way round.
It was a huge day for us here today as it was the launch of our very own Hickstead.TV channel. This year we decided to produce our own coverage at the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting, which has allowed us to broadcast three days of action to a global audience, for the first time. It is a great way of making the sport more accessible to those watching at home, and the service received wonderful, real-time reviews tweeted in by viewers. The broadcasting of equestrian events has changed much over the past decade, as too of course have the viewing public’s viewing habits. It is wonderful to be able to harness the modern technology now available to us, and this season will see our shows going out on a variety of channels, including of course Horse & Country TV, Sky Sports, and our own internet channel.
I have had two text messages from friends of mine, one hiding in a boardroom in her office in London pretending to be taking a conference call, and the other one having ducked out of a children’s clown party, to follow the Hickstead action on their phones, so they don’t miss a second of the sport they love.
Our dynamic presenting duo Gareth Jenkins and Corrine Bracken deserve a special mention, as does the whole team at Impact Media, who have worked tirelessly in recent weeks and months to ensure that everything went off with the right kind of bang on launch day. Now I’ve just got to come up with a tweet funny enough to make it on to screen!
Finally, a huge well done to Guy Williams for his big win today, and great to see him back at Hickstead, a stomping ground of Guy’s for years, as he has moved from our neighbourly Kent to France. Great to have you back, Guy, even if it is just for the week.
Until tomorrow, and the excitement of tomorrow’s Bunn Leisure Speed Derby. Will Guy grace the winner’s podium again? We’ll just have to wait and see!"
Daisy with Jay Halim and Nina Barbour at the top of the new grandstand overlooking the international arena
Daisy Bunn can't quite believe its that time of year again, and welcomes a new grandstand and some old faces...
"Another year older but the same level of excitement and joy! Here we are again at the beginning of our favourite time of year.
Hickstead is, of course, a real family affair, and there has been plenty to celebrate this past year, with not one but TWO new babies born into the clan. Our sister Chloe and her husband international Irish rider Shane Breen had their fourth child, while our brother John had his first, a mini Douglas Bunn no less – adorable and easily distinguishable from his grandfather by his shocking blonde mohican!
The thing that’s got me thinking about family and generations and time ticking by, is that I’m sitting here next to Geoff Billington, and he has just declared that he has been riding at Hickstead for FORTY-SIX years! It is one of the things I love the most about this business, that it really is a big family, and that my friends who grew up with posters of the great Whitaker brothers, Geoff, David Broome, etc now find themselves competing against them (mentioning no names Jay Halim!)
In preparation for this season we’ve had a busy programme of improvements and updates over the winter. Perhaps the most noticeable of all is our new grandstand. It's excellent to be able to do something nice for the thousands of incredibly loyal members of the general public that support us year after year, come rain or shine. I have tested it out myself and, as nostalgic for the past as I am, I say good riddance to those hard old wooden seats. I predict some very happy bottoms!
We are also delighted to have added a serious new date in September to our calendar – Boomerang Hickstead. Yes, ladies and gents, it’s rock’n’roll time! We have an amazing line up including Jessie J and The Vamps, Simple Minds, Soul II Soul, The Proclaimers, Rae Morris, The Shires and Adreya Triana.
So that’s all for tonight, but stay tuned as international competition hots up tomorrow, leading us into our famous weekend of Derbies… I told you the excitement was almost too much!"
In her latest blog, Yazmin Pinchen shares the thrill of winning her first Grand Prix – and on home turf
'WOW!!', is my first thought. What a weekend I had in Bolesworth. I am sure I can speak on behalf of all the riders, and even spectators, when I say thank-you and well done to Nina Barbour and Alan Beaumont for organising one of the best international shows in Europe. It is truly spectacular and exceeds all expectations.
From a champagne reception at Bolesworth Castle, to a gala evening auctioning yearlings, and a concert with Scouting for Girls and Alula – it really is something else.
I have been fortunate enough to go to some beautiful shows all over the world, but this has to be one of my favorites. Nina and her colleagues did a fantastic job. Last year was great, but this year was even better.
Bob Ellis and Kelvin Bywater built some technical and large tracks to really test the riders and the horses. There was also some great entertainment. Seeing the gladiators knock-out was really exciting and great to involve the riders. I used to watch the TV programme when I was younger, so I loved seeing the guys from the show.
The only downer of the show was on the final night a few of the international riders, including world number one Scott Brash, had items of tack stolen. This has to be the worst thing to happen to anyone, especially the day before you jump a class. It was a real shame the security didn’t keep the stables more secure. My sympathy goes to those who had items stolen.
So… to the nitty gritty bit, I won the grand prix!! I cannot explain the feeling of winning such an incredible class on home turf. I’ve never won a grand prix before and what a place to do it!
John Renwick has been training me lately and I feel like I have come on so much. I was third in the Windsor grand prix, then I had a double clear with a foot in the water in the five-star nations cup show in Poland, and now I’ve a won a four-star grand prix with my stallion Van de Vivaldi.
After the first round there was only seven clears, and just four riders went clear in the second round to go through to the jump-off. My first round was the quickest, so I had the luxury of going last. John [Whitaker] told me to wait to until the first three had jumped before deciding what we should do.
As I walked into the pocket I was told there was no clears, so all I had to do was go clear to win. My stomach turned, I was so nervous yet happy because trying to be fast and clear is a near-on disaster for me!
I kept it tight and went for the clear and that’s what me and Vinny did. All I remember is throwing my arms in the air and bursting into tears. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to finally win after so many years of dreaming about it. I hope I can be writing to you again about another grand prix win soon.
I have to thank my parents for their on-going support and all my sponsors and my team for having faith in me and pushing me to believe in myself.
Thank you to everyone who has congratulated me and supported me, it's lovely to know people are rooting for me.
I am off to the beautiful Monte Carlo Global Champions tour show on Thursday with all my family and my boyfriend. Fingers crossed we will bring back more great results to report to you all...
In the latest in our series of archive videos from British Pathe, check out this amazing clip of Badminton in 1965. It features a young Princess Anne; The Queen watching the action from what looks like a farm cart, and Prince Phillip and Prince Charles watching on top of a Land Rover! There's also a brilliant save on the cross-country.
In her latest blog, international event rider Sharon Hunt reflects on her top horse Fabio, changes to the sport and a move towards more showjumping.
Well, 2015 has been a very interesting year so far! Nothing has really gone to plan at all, I had all the events diary arranged and booked up, then suddenly my best horse, Loughnatousa Fabio, lost form - and it's evident he has a few things preventing him from performing as well as expected. His first few events were inconsistent. Either superb or very spooky and distracted. He can be quite sharp, but always in a good way, not that limits or affects his performance. You can see him in action in the video above.
He was brilliant at the first event, Oasby, which he won in fine style, and was unbelievable at Burnham Market, he couldn't have gone better. However, his first advanced at Belton went badly. A brilliant test, but disappointing jumping, which on closer inspection of videos, you could see he jumped drastically right at most fences, definitely a new thing for him...
As he is only nine and the best horse I have had since Tankers Town, and after extensive conversations with the co owners and Rossdales vets, we decided he needed a full investigation. He has actually had an operation now, so here's hoping for a successful 2016 season. Only time will tell...
So with my team being based around Fabio, my eventing has come to a standstill. I have a team of careful eventers so this summer will be again spent mainly jumping. Far more cost effective I'm afraid to say, eventing is definitely becoming incredibly expensive. At Chatsworth the start fees were more than £20 per horses, there is always a huge effort there but on top of stabling, fuel and high entry fees it does make me wince!
I have a feeling that I am not the only one who is thinking the same things. I wonder how the huge outgoings are justified to eventers, certainly for me it seems as though it is a luxury rather than a necessity now.
I have briefly read about some of the new proposal of changes to eventing, and I actually find them quite daunting. I personally worry that eventing has already changed drastically since I started many years ago. I know that standards have improved throughout all the phases, but now it seems unless you go clear and fast cross-country (on any going) you won't get a place.
Also, some riders seem to be willing to risk their horses on unacceptable ground, and the horsemanship has gone out of it in some ways. To compete against riders that feel horses are disposable is quite demoralising. I was exceptionally lucky with Tankers Town but that's no accident he stayed so sound and well. I never risked him on poor ground or ran him week in, week out. To do the same now would make you not competitive enough! A good result just at the big competitions may not be enough to secure your place now on a team, but in trying to attain them, the good horses often break.
So to me, the idea of having a more challenging dressage test or show jumping track vastly appeals over the suggestion of eventing to go down a CIC (one-day) route - primarily with a new introduction of CIC4*. This really worries me, mainly because the skill of horsemanship could be lost. Less distance cross-country will mean more runs, faster speeds and therefore possibly more accidents. The long haul with the steeplechase was punishing at times on our horses, but we did learn to look after them and give them sufficient holidays afterwards. Good horses are few and far between and need preserving for their longevity. There are so few of them!
Luckily I really enjoy showjumping, even though I will never reach the same levels as I have in eventing. For me it's a new challenge and I enjoy improving. My gorgeous grey mare HSB Harriet is proving to be so super reliable that I will branch out to new jumping venues and take the time to do so. My multitalented six-year-old chestnut Loughnatousa Venture is to stay a showjumper rather than become an eventer, he jumps 1.20m tracks very easily but finds a BE90 event challenging, so there is no contest really!
I have just passed my UK CC level 3 BS coaching exam too, so I am level 3 in BE and BS. I'd say coaching will be my way forwards in a few years time, I enjoy this as much as riding myself now. I am blessed with some fabulous pupils, Eloise Carter, my 14-year-old pony rider has just finished 9th in the Pony championships and is on the long list for the Europeans. The final trial is at Barbury so we are working hard!
One possible advantage though with having less horses to ride this summer and more time training, is I actually get a chance to tan my legs the same colour as my top half now!"