Hickstead hero Adventure De Kannan has gone one last round at the course, starring in his own retirement ceremony just before the Al Shira’aa Derby on Sunday.
Together with Ireland’s Trevor Breen, ‘Addy’ has won most of Hickstead’s biggest classes, including the British Speed Derby, the Eventing Grand Prix, the All England Grand Prix, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the British Jumping Derby.
He continued to compete at the highest level despite an operation to remove his right eye in 2013.
Addy took centre stage in the International Arena for one last time, just before the Hickstead Derby – a class he won in 2014 and has been placed in many times.
The horse was given a garland of apples and carrots, while his owner Karen Swann was also presented with a gift. Then Trevor unsaddled Addy and led him out of the arena where he made his name.
“Without a doubt I owe a lot of my career to Addy, he has been by best horse for the majority of my career,” said an emotional Breen.
“He won classes for me week in, week out, year in and year out. We’d go to any big show in the world – Spruce Meadows, Calgary, Hickstead, Dublin, and he always tried his best – and that’s all I could ask for.
“He is an absolute gem of a horse in every possible way, it just shows his heart and his attitude. For one single horse to have all those skills to win all those different classes is incredible, he has such a will to win. He’s unbelievable and I’m going to miss him.”
• Britain’s Nigel Coupe rode Golvers Hill to victory in the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead, following a two-way jump-off with Harriet Nuttall.
Coupe, 46, first rode in this class in 1990 and has been knocking on the Derby door for several years, finishing second in 2015 and fifth in this class 12 months ago. Drawn 16th out of the 26 starters, Coupe was the first rider to produce a faultless round, and for a long time he remained the sole clear.
It wasn’t until the third last combination to go, Harriet Nuttall and A Touch Imperious, that another clear round was recorded and a jump-off guaranteed.
Both riders came back to tackle the shortened course, with first to go Coupe setting a strong pace. But his hopes of producing a clear and putting the pressure on Harriet were dashed when he had the Derby rails down after the open water.
Nuttall could then risk going for a steady clear, but when the Derby rails caught her out as well she had to kick on – and unluckily the final fence also fell, leaving her on eight faults and in second place.
It’s a position Nuttall, 27, has held for three consecutive years in the Hickstead Derby, and she was also second in the British Speed Derby, a class she won 12 months ago.
It was a day of celebration as Lancashire-based rider Coupe finally had his name added to the iconic Boomerang Trophy. He also gets to take home and keep the new Al Shira’aa Trophy, which has been especially designed in celebration of the new title sponsorship of this famous showjumping class.
Coupe paid tribute to Golvers Hill, Susan Simmons’ 14-year-old Irish Sports Horse gelding who came to Hickstead on the back of a recent win in the Hamburg Derby Trial.
Leicestershire’s Holly Smith finished third equal on Quality Old Joker, the winner of Thursday’s Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard. She shared third on four faults with two Irish riders – Billy Twomey (Diaghilev), and former World Champion Dermott Lennon (Gelvins Touch).
Three-time Derby champion William Funnell produced one of the best rounds of the day on his talented nine-year-old homebred Billy Buckingham. The pair left every fence standing but a slight back-step at the top of the Derby Bank and a time fault left them in sixth place with five faults.
Earlier in the day, Jake Saywell, 20, won the Hickstead Under 25 Masters riding the 10-year-old mare Havinia Van De Roshoeve.
Several showing classes also reached concluded in the International Arena, including the prestigious final of the Retraining of Racehorses/Tattersalls Thoroughbred Show Series Championship, which was won by Hampshire’s Southerly Roberts and the former flat racehorse Imperial Ruby.