An unforgettable Adventure

Adventure De Kannan is one of the most successful Hickstead horses of recent times. Victoria Goff looks back at the remarkable career of the one-eyed wonder horse

cp1_9379-medium-jpg

Will any horse ever come close to matching Adventure De Kannan’s achievements at Hickstead? In nearly six decades since the All England Jumping Course first opened, no other horse has won so many different international classes, nor shown such incredible versatility in ticking off wins in our most famous classes, one by one. 

His partnership with Ireland’s Trevor Breen has been remarkable. They were a joyous combination to watch in action in the International Arena, whether jumping in Grands Prix, going clear round the Derby or racing at speed against the clock. Their vast collection of Hickstead titles marks Adventure De Kannan out as special, but the fact he has repeatedly bounced back from adversity to be so successful sets him apart in a league of his own.   

Ahead of the Al Shira’aa Derby on Sunday afternoon, Adventure De Kannan will be officially retired from international competition. He’s 17 this year, and his owner Karen Swann and Trevor both agree he doesn’t owe them anything, that there’s nothing left for him to prove. For one last time, we’ll have a chance to see ‘Addy’ take to the spotlight in the arena where he made his name.

Addy’s background isn’t typical for an international showjumper, to say the least. The Kannan-sired gelding was originally destined to be an eventer, with Karen competing him up to two-star level and showjumping up to 1.20m back in Ireland. Trevor, who was then based in Co Tipperary, began training the pair. When Karen had an accident, Trevor took over the ride, and he continued to compete him when she went on to have children. He took to the horse straight away. “I remember saying to someone at the time that Addy was a horse I had to keep the ride on,” he says.

They developed their partnership slowly, competing in national classes when the horse was an eight-year-old. They made their international debut at Hickstead in 2009, when Addy was nine years old. It was the British Speed Derby, and they made it a winning debut – a sign of even bigger and better things to come, perhaps. From there, there was no stopping them. After Hickstead they won a big class at Cavan, then won an incredible five Grands Prix in a row.

They made their Hickstead Derby debut the following year, finishing 16th with 12 faults, and in 2011 they were seventh with eight faults. Slowly they were getting closer to winning Hickstead’s most iconic class, but they had to wait a few more years yet before they finally got there. In the meantime, the Hickstead results kept coming – in 2012 the pair won the MS Amlin Eventing Grand Prix, the All England Grand Prix at the national show that September, plus they picked up a third placing in the Derby itself.

In 2013, Adventure De Kannan went through his biggest challenge when he underwent an operation to take out his right eye. He’d been plagued with problems in that eye for several years, and vets felt his eyesight was probably around 25% of what it should be. Eventually, Trevor and Karen decided to have the eye removed, theorizing that if he continued to showjump afterwards then that would be all well and good, and if he didn’t he could go off and enjoy retirement, having already achieved so much.

Fortunately, Addy recovered quickly and was soon back in work. To begin with, Trevor tried riding him a little differently, trying to maximise the horse’s ability to see fences from his remaining eye. But soon he worked out that the best approach was to ride Addy the same way he’d always been ridden, and the pair were soon back jumping at the top level.

Adventure De Kannan obviously still relished jumping at Hickstead. A few months after the eye operation, the pair returned to the All England Jumping Course with the aim of claiming the Derby title for the first time. But it was not to be – they were clear through the most tricky stage of the course but knocked down the Open Ditch at fence 13, leaving them in equal second place with four faults, behind eventual winners Phillip Miller and Caritiar Z. Trevor, who had lost his mother just a week before the Derby Meeting, described it as the ‘worst second place I’ve ever had’.

The following year, preparations didn’t go any more straightforwardly, with Addy tweaking a hind suspensory on the Spanish Sunshine Tour, leaving his Derby chances in doubt. After careful rehabilitation and regular trips to the equine spa, Addy was fit and ready for his fifth Derby attempt. But still things didn’t go smoothly – first, they had an unprecedented 12 faults in the Derby Trial, meaning they only just qualified for Sunday’s Derby. Then, the day before the class, Addy was kicked in the collecting ring, meaning his groom Fran Callan had to stay up all night applying ice in the hope the horse was sound to jump the next day.

Fortunately, her hard work paid off and Addy was able to take his place in the Derby line up. With the previous year’s winner Phillip Miller leading with a four-fault round, Trevor and Addy simply had to jump a clear round to take the title. But this time, it was the first part of the Devil’s Dyke that caught them out, meaning Trevor and Phillip had to jump-off against the clock. What ensued was the closest jump-off in Derby history, with both combinations picking up four-faults but Trevor finishing two-hundreds of a second quicker to claim the win.  

Not content with winning the Derby, they returned to the showground a month later for the Longines Royal International Horse Show, and duly won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, beating a number of top national riders in the process. “He’s a phenomenal horse – he loves this place and this arena,” said Trevor at the time.

Only the Longines King George V Gold Cup eluded them, a class that is only open to international riders who are chosen for the Nations Cup squad at the show. They came closest to winning in 2013 when picking up just four faults, but in the end Addy and Trevor didn’t get the chance to lift the famous gold trophy. Nor would the horse be able to have his name added to the Boomerang Trophy for a second time, despite being one of the most consistent Derby horses in recent years. In 2015, he finished seventh with eight faults, the year Trevor secured back-to-back victories with his other ride, Loughnatousa WB. Last summer, the pair finished out of the Derby placings for the first time in six years.

Yet Addy’s achievements will forever stand out in Hickstead’s history books, as the only horse to win the Speed Derby, the Eventing Grand Prix, the All England Grand Prix, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Derby. Not only has he recovered from injury and setbacks, and claimed so many major titles, he’s also an inspiration to owners of one-eyed horses round the world. People saw his Derby win, witnessed him conquering that notoriously difficult track, and realised that having one eye was no barrier to a horse’s ability or success.

The year after their Derby win, Hickstead commissioned a special photoshoot with top equine photographer Matthew Seed. The images showcased the unique bond shared between Trevor and Addy, and the horse’s inherent beauty, despite his disability. The one-eyed wonder horse, a Hickstead legend, forever immortalised in a series of photographs.

Now we must say a final farewell to a horse who gave us so many magical moments, who beat the odds – and the opposition – time and time again. Thank you, Addy – it’s been one hell of an Adventure. 

This article first appeared in June 2017. Adventure De Kannan is pictured at the retirement ceremony on Sunday 25 June 2017. 

paul_tapner_-aus-__bonza_king_of_rouges_ks77657jpg

Perfect Timing

Paul Tapner talks to Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Goff about his first win in the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge

Read more

sjh_1261jpg

Doing it for Ella

Hickstead's press officer Victoria Goff caught up with Matthew Sampson, the winner of the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby 

Read more

2014derbysun-5973jpg

Race against time

Victoria Goff takes a look back at some of the famous Hickstead Derby jump-offs that have taken place over the years. 

Read more

cp2_0217-2jpg

A New Era

Victoria Goff finds out more about Al Shira'aa, the title sponsors of the Hickstead Derby 

Read more

georgie-strang-2-updatedjpg

Q&A with Georgie Strang

Next week sees one of the UK’s largest horse shows open their gates for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show. We caught up with one of the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge competitors, Georgie Strang, and found out how she’s feeling about returning to Hickstead for her second shot at the title…

Read more

sjh_7123jpg

12 moments we loved at this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting

The Al Shira’aa Derby drew our June fixture to a close, and what a way to round off four fabulous sunny days of showjumping and showing. We take a look back at some of the best moments of this year’s show.

Read more

hollyjpg

#RoadToHickstead contenders reveal...

We ask some of our leading Al Shira'aa Derby contenders some killer questions.

Read more

nigel-n-harrietjpg

Harriet and Nigel go head-to-head

Two of the main Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby contenders, Harriet Nuttall and Nigel Coupe, discuss this year's challenge.

Read more

alshira5-9-cropped-large-jpg

Hickstead Q&A - Hamad Ali Al Kirbi

UAE rider Hamad Ali Al Kirbi made his Hickstead debut last summer when he competed at the Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby Meeting. We caught up with him ahead of this year's show. 

Read more

guess-who-1jpg

Can you spot our Mystery Guests?

We're very busy preparing the International Arena ahead of this year's Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby Meeting CSI4*, and with spring being somewhat late to arrive this year we've had to ask some special guests to join our Ground Crew! 

Read more

sjh_5445jpg

Billy the King

Ireland's Billy Twomey enjoyed an amazing run of success at the 2016 BHS Royal International Horse Show, including a win in the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup. Victoria Goff spoke to him about his golden run.

Read more

sjh_4648jpg

A home from home

Hickstead is very familiar stomping ground for David Simpson, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner in 2016. Victoria Goff spoke to him about winning on 'home territory'. 

Read more

cp1_8109jpg

The One to Watch

In the run up to the 2017 Longines Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Goff caught up with Amlin Plus Eventers' Challenge winner Esib Power.  

Read more

1976-79-eddie-macken-boomerangjpg

The nation's favourites

Earlier this year, we asked you to vote for your favourite Derby-winning horses. Victoria Spicer counts down your top 10. 

Read more

sjh_2041jpg

An unforgettable Adventure

Adventure De Kannan is one of the most successful Hickstead horses of recent times. Victoria Goff looks back at the remarkable career of the one-eyed wonder horse

Read more

cp1_9607-01jpg

William Whitaker: How to win the Derby

The 2016 Hickstead Derby winner William Whitaker shares his winning formula! 

Read more

sjh_8226-medium-jpg

William Whitaker: Advice for Hickstead newcomers

If you haven't ridden at the All England Jumping Course before, reigning Hickstead Derby champion William Whitaker shares his insights into competing here.

Read more

6dhb_5414willwhitderbypromolesson130317-c-honeybunnphotographyjpg

William Whitaker: The perfect warm-up

The current Hickstead Derby champion William Whitaker explains how to nail your warm-up routine, both at home and at competitions. 

Read more

90dhb_7244derbypromo130317-c-honeybunnphotographyjpg

William Whitaker: Winning a jump-off

Want to nail those jump-off rounds? Hickstead Derby 2016 champion William Whitaker shares his advice, and suggests two training exercises to improve your performance against the clock. 

Read more

19dhb_5523willwhitderbypromolesson130317-c-honeybunnphotographyjpg

William Whitaker's training secrets

In the run up to this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, reigning Derby champion William Whitaker shares his showjumping training insights.

Words by Victoria Spicer, photos by Daisy Honeybunn

Read more

derby-sat2013sam-3131jpg

6 links between Hickstead and the Grand National

The home of British Showjumping and the most famous race on earth have more in common than you might think, writes Victoria Spicer...

Read more

470a7706jpg

A winning debut

Chloe Winchester, winner of the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 2015, chats to Victoria Spicer about her winning debut at Hickstead

Read more

470a9752jpg-1

Elizabeth the first

Last year Elizabeth 'Beezie' Madden became the first woman ever to win the Longines King George V Gold Cup. In 2015, she did it again. Hickstead's Press Officer Victoria Spicer caught up with America's first lady of showjumping. 

Read more

whitaker-12-jpg

12 moments we loved at this year's Derby meeting

There was rain, there was mud, but much more importantly there was some brilliant competition at this year's Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting. We choose our top 12 moments from this year's show. 

Read more

jp_b1743-large-jpg

Back on top

Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Spicer chats to the connections of Loughnatousa WB, a horse who holds a very special record in the Derby...

Read more

corrada-02jpg

Three in a row

Journalist Andrew Baldock takes a look back over the Hickstead archives at the three riders who have won the Derby three times in succession - and finds out which other riders came close...

Read more

jp_a1891-large-jpg

A cool guy

Victoria Spicer chats to Guy Williams, the winner of the 2015 British Speed Derby, about setting records and why Hickstead will always be special to him

Read more

2014derbysun-0171jpg

Eight great Derby rivalries

There have been some amazing clashes in the 56 years of the Hickstead Derby. Pippa Cuckson takes a look at some of the great rivalries over the years...

Read more

2014derbysun-6012jpg

Breen’s Derby dream comes true

Hickstead's Press Officer Victoria Spicer chats to the 2014 winner of the Equestrian.com Derby, Trevor Breen. 

Read more

10499590_10152593085572845_1006106591594047306_o-medium-jpg

Five Minutes with Fran Callan

Continuing our new Five Minutes With... series, we caught up with Fran Callan, the head travelling groom for Trevor Breen. As part of her job, she looks after Hickstead megastar and reigning Equestrian.com Derby winner Adventure De Kannan...

Read more

derby-sun2013sam-3916jpg

Miller's tale

Victoria Spicer meets Phillip Miller, winner of the 2013 Hickstead Derby, to talk about his rise from riding school lessons to Hickstead champion. 

Read more

hdc13phillaughjpg

A lesson with Derby winner Phillip Miller

When we ran an exclusive Hickstead Derby Community competition to win a lesson with the 2013 Derby winner Phillip Miller, we had a great response. In the end, we selected 25-year-old Jodine Brooks from Kent and her seven-year-old Dutch gelding, Camorasun.

Read more

dougsidewaysjpg

Five minutes with Douglas Hinckley

Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn continues her 'Five Minutes With' series with Douglas Hinckley, the managing director of WHMG, the firm responsible for all of Hickstead's on-site security and stable management…

Read more

2014derbysun-5998jpg

15 facts about the Derby course

From poles that 'twang', resident newts and motorway fences turned into showjumps, Victoria Spicer investigates 15 things that you might not know about the most famous course in British showjumping...

Read more

philip-miller-hdc-selfiejpg

Five minutes with Phillip Miller

Her latest victim in the 'Five Minutes With Series…', Daisy sits down with natural born comedian and Hickstead Derby superstar, 2013 winner Phillip Miller…

Read more

bobheadshotstaringjpg

Five minutes with Bob Ellis

Daisy Bunn is back in the interviewer's chair this week with Hickstead's very own Bob The Buider, world renowned, Olympic course builder Bob Ellis...

Read more

image3jpg

10 iconic Derby moments

Last seen disappearing into our dusky archives, Hickstead Press Officer and journalist Victoria Spicer has put together a review of 10 of our most iconic Derby moments over the years, specially for our HDC members. 

Read more

stevewildewithmicfrontbankjpg

Five Minutes with Steve Wilde

Continuing our new Five Minutes With... interview series, Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn sits down with Hickstead's 'golden tonsils', commentator and Director of Ceremonies Steve Wilde...

Read more

daisyjpg

Five minutes with Daisy Bunn

As part of a new series, exclusively for our HDC members, Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn is going to catch key members of the Hickstead team for mini 5 minute interviews, to give our members a unique, behind-the-scenes take on everything Hickstead. Who better to start with than Daisy herself!

Read more

jwhitwinningderbypng

The best of the best

Equestrian journalist Charlotte Ricca-Smith asks Hickstead Derby winners to name the performance - apart from their own! - that impressed them most. 

Read more

paulbeechernoflagsjpg

A Hickstead first

In 2013, Paul Beecher became the first person to produce a clear round having been drawn first to go in the Hickstead Derby, then go on to win the class. Victoria Spicer spoke to him about his achievement.

Read more

bwharveybankpng

A National treasure

Harvey Smith is the only man to have won both the Hickstead Derby and trained a Grand National winner. Victoria Spicer reflects on his remarkable achievement.

Read more

london2012goldwinnerspng

Olympic heroes

Did you know that three out of the four showjumping gold medallists from London 2012 are past winners of the Hickstead Derby? Victoria Spicer catches up with them to find out what those wins meant.

Read more

Worth The Wait

Victoria Goff describes the wait Nigel Coupe had before he finally become the Al Shira'aa Derby Champion last summer. 

Read more

FOLLOW US

CONTACT US
 

THE ALL ENGLAND
JUMPING COURSE
HICKSTEAD
WEST SUSSEX
RH17 5NU
UNITED KINGDOM

Tel: +44 1273 834315
Fax: +44 1273 834452

View our Privacy Policy.