David Will lifted the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup today at Hickstead, becoming the first German rider to win the trophy since Holger Wulschner in 2008.
David, 31, was aiming to ride one of his other international horses in today’s Grand Prix, but ended up having to change plans and compete his new ride, the nine-year-old Holsteiner Never Walk Alone, instead – a decision that certainly paid off when he finished top of a five-strong jump-off.
“It’s actually only our fourth show together, we did one show in Poland two weeks ago and won the Grand Prix there,” said David. “The horse I’d planned to ride was a little bit sick and had a bit of a temperature on the first day. She’s recovered, but we thought it would be better not to jump her, so we thought we’d give it a shot with Never Walk Alone and it turned out to be great! I thought he jumped both rounds exceptionally good. He was really, really fighting.”
Only five of the 40 starters provided clears over the Paul Connor designed track – none of them Brits. Guy Williams was best of the home contenders, just tapping out one rail on Rouge De Ravel to return as the fastest of the four-faulters to take sixth while Jodie Hall-Mcateer, 19 – jumping her first 5* grand prix – impressed to also finish on four to take eighth with Salt’N Peppa.
Sweden’s Peder Fredricson was the first against the clock and set a competitive standard on Zacramento, but David shaved off more than a sec to take the lead.
Swedish rider Fredrik Jonsson (Cold Play) and Brazil’s Luiz de Azevedo Filho (Chachito) both produced double clears but neither could catch David’s time.
Ireland’s Michael Duffy came closest after finishing in the second fastest time on Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars, but unfortunately he was later eliminated under FEI blood rules, and dropped to fifth place.
The Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup is one of the most coveted Grands Prix in the world. First held held in 1911, it has since been won by many of the sport’s biggest names.
“It’s something very special to be on the trophy forever. I couldn’t be happier. As we know, it’s a very special arena – a horse has to be really brave and try his best, and mine couldn’t have been better,” said David.
Asked if he was a Liverpool fan, given his winning horse’s name, he said: “I’m certainly a Liverpool fan now! They have a German manager in Jurgen Klopp, so now we’re following them a bit more in Germany too.”
No British rider has won the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup since Ben Maher in 2013, and s hortly before the King George, Tripple X III - the horse who took Britain’s Ben Maher to Olympic team gold at London 2012 – was officially retired. The last time Ben rode Tripple X III was in 2013 when he won the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup here, and today the crowd gave the horse a standing ovation as he returned to the scene of one of his biggest wins.
Tiffany Foster, who has competed the horse at the top level for the past six years, was also there to say farewell to the 17-year-old black stallion. Tripple X III was ridden into the arena by Ben, before the horse’s saddle was removed and he was led out of the arena by Tiffany.
Brazil’s Thiago Ribas de Costa raced ahead to take the Old Lodge seven and eight-year-old title on Mano Negra Van De Bucxtale over a 1.45m track. Eight of the 20 starters reached the jump-off with Thiago on the the Mylord Carthago/Concorde seven-year-old to win by 3.98 sec.
“He always jumps his best on the last day, and he’s got some really good results,” says Thiago, who has been based in the Netherlands for the last four years and was making his first ever visit to Hickstead. “It’s unbelievable – it was my dream, one day, to be here.”
Georgia Tame posted the only other double clear to take second on the Quaprice Z seven-year-old Harvey with William Rekert’s fast four faults on Tom Williams’ Hot Bluebird in third. Laura Kraut finished fourth on Galliano VM and William Funnell took fifth aboard Billy Spiral.
Text © Jumping Around/Photo Hickstead/Julian Portch