Sussex ace Breen lands Hickstead's Queen Elizabeth Cup - Thomas takes King George V Gold Cup

Shane Breen collected another Hickstead title, picking up his third career win in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

Kelvin Bywater’s challenging 1.50m track caught most competitors out, with just three of the 28 starters producing clears in the opening round. Joe Fernyhough went first with Calcourt Particle, completing the shortened jump-off track in 45.39sec. Scotland’s Nicole Lockhead went next on Miss Aragona PS, delivering a faster clear in 41.38 sec.

But Hickstead-based Shane Breen, who won last month’s Al Shira’aa Derby, knows exactly what it takes to win in the Longines International Arena, and he steered the 10-year-old grey mare Haya round to shave more than a second off Nicole’s time to take the win.

“She’s incredibly careful, and I was a little apprehensive because she’s never been in the main arena, and she’s only jumped a water in a sand arena. But I was so impressed with her because in the first round, nothing fazed her. In the jump-off, I watched Joe on the big screen, and he did an excellent round – and then when I saw Nicole going I thought how am I going to beat this? So I tried to do the same as Nicole but just go a smidgeon tighter to the white vertical,” Shane explained.

Shane Breen and Haya go for glory in The Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Picture: Elli Birch)

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup used to be an international class open to lady riders only, before a rule change in 2008 meant it became a national championship for both men and women. Shane was the first man to win the trophy, taking the title on Carmena Z in 2008 then adding another win in 2013 with Zarnita. Both Shane and his younger brother Trevor have won every one of Hickstead’s major titles except one – the Longines King George V Gold Cup – and tomorrow they will each have a chance of completing the set.

Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts took top honours in this morning’s Royal International Salver, riding the 10-year-old H&M Miro. Oliver, the son of four-time Olympian Ludo Philippaerts, came out on top after a 15-strong jump-off, finishing over 2.5sec ahead of second-placed Samuel Hutton and Bonne Amie.

The final class of the day, the €25,500 Royal International Speed Classic, went to Brazil's Francisco Jose Mesquita Musa. Riding Catch Me Marathon, he sprinted across the finish line in a time of 61.47sec to take the win, ahead of Britain's Jack Whitaker and Scenletha in second. It was Francisco's first international win at the All England Jumping Course.

In the showing classes, Danielle Heath added her second major championship of the week with the Brereton Supreme Hack Championship. Her win came courtesy of Forgeland Hydepark, with Vicky Smith and Young Lochinvar in reserve. Robert Walker also added another title to his tally, winning the Culford Lodge Commodities Small Hunter Championship with Good Idea, who was purchased just 10 days before the show.

Belgium's Gilles Thomas won the Longines King George V Gold Cup at the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead | Picture: Elli Birch - Boots and Hooves Photography

Meanwhile Belgium’s Gilles Thomas had his first five-star win today when claiming the historic Longines King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead. It was the first time a Belgian rider has lifted the iconic trophy since Jacques Misonne’s win in 1931.

Eight riders made it through to the jump-off for today’s Grand Prix, with Kelvin Bywater’s cleverly-designed track catching out many of the sport’s leading names. In the second round, Britain’s Robert Whitaker initially led with a fast-four fault round on Evert, before Ireland’s Trevor Breen delivered the first double clear on Gonzalo to move into the top spot. Things then got exciting when Brazil’s Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (Harwich VDL) went nearly 1.5sec quicker to go ahead of Trevor.

Next up was Great Britain’s star Harry Charles, who was hoping for his first victory in the class that his father Peter won in 2009. Riding the experienced 16-year-old Borsato, Harry delivered a brilliant clear round in a time of 51.22sec. But British hopes for a home win were dashed when the Gilles, the last rider to go, shaved an impressive 3sec off the time to take the €49,500 first prize.

“This is only the second time I rode a jump-off with him – but I didn’t know he was so quick, so I just went for it! I thought it was quite slow but I think I have a quick horse here! I had the advantage that I was the last to go,” said Gilles, 24. “Hickstead is a historical Grand Prix, it’s really special. Kevin Jochems is my best friend, his first Grand Prix win was also here in 2018, so I will call him later and tell him this Grand Prix is not so hard to win!” he joked.

Harry Charles, who heads to Herning next week for the ECCO FEI World Championships, was pragmatic after just missing out on the title. “I came here with the goal to try to win this Grand Prix with the horse – he’s 16 so he has all the experience now, and he’s just getting better with age. He jumped the first round fantastic, and it was a cool course to jump, actually – we jump in a lot of small sand rings with delicate little poles, and it was nice to have some proper jumps,” he commented.

While Britain didn’t get their longed-for win in the Grand Prix, the host nation did enjoy a victory earlier this morning with Sally Goding winning the 1* Royal International 7 & 8 Year Old championship on Spring Willow.

“She’s very feisty, and she absolutely loves it – the bell goes and she’s off, but she does like to do it her own way. She doesn’t always want to listen to what I say, but she’s usually right anyway! She’s so careful and she’s always on it – she thinks quicker than I do,” said Sally.

Six horses came forward for the jump-off, in which Sally delivered one of only three clear rounds. “I had a good draw – I was last to go, so I was able to watch a few go round, which helps with the distances. Then, I saw that there weren’t many clears in the jump-off, so I didn’t want to go too fast, because I wanted to leave them up,” she added.