It was Holly Smith’s first time in Zinc Management speed horse of the year on the final night of HOYS but she made it a winning one with the versatile Quality Old Joker. The Irish nine-year-old finished equal second in last night’s Puissance, but turned fleet of foot here.
“He can turn to anything, I can use him for grand prix, speed and Puissance. He’s not an Olympic horse but he’s the type of horse you want in your string,” said Holly.
Twenty-one tackled course-designer Kelvin Bywater’s 12-fence track with Belgium’s Francois Mathy taking an early lead on Casanova De L’Herse, but three horses later Holly found a slightly quicker route to take just 0.08 sec off the time to secure the title.
“I heard a lot of comments in the collecting ring it was a lot bigger than it used to be when a Tab;e C speed (four sec added for each knock down), but it suited us.”
Old Joker (George to his friends) is a gentle giant at home.
“He’s like a big dog and licks you, but he’s scared of his own shadow and can be naughty when turning him out, he runs off, but he’s very kind-hearted,” said Holly on the gelding originally bought as a four-year-old with hunting in mind.
“His joint-owner James Mossman did hunt him, but he’s not allowed now.”
Ireland’s Shane Breen claimed third on Hallowberry Cruz behind Francois followed by two Brits – Nigel Coupe filling fourth spot on Jubilee III and Mennell Watson’s early round on Helen van Heyningen’s Whisper In The Wind taking an eventual fifth with the steadiest of the clears.
Photo © Jumping Around