David Simpson provided a devastatingly quick round in strong jump-off to land the world ranking 3* grand prix to conclude Horse of the Year Show 2019 with Gentleman VH Veldhof.
“I’m so lucky, he is incredible to ride with so much ability,” said David, who got the ride on the Quite Easy/Calido I 13-year-old in June and won the Queen’s Cup at Royal International a month later.
He immediately dedicated the grand prix win to fellow Irish rider Kevin Babington, who is currently in hospital with paralysis fears following a fall.
“This one’s for Kevin, he’s fighting a tough fight at the moment but he has amazing strength and is making progress, although it is a long road ahead,” he said.
A surprising 16 from the original 29 starters found all the answers over course-designer Kelvin Bywater’s 1.60m 12-fence track to make their way forward to the jump-off.
“When I walked the course I thought it was tough enough, tall verticals, fences coming quick off the corners and committed distances but it was such a strong field the clears kept coming,” said David.
But four competitors in, the winner was found. David used every inch of Gentleman’s ability to take the tightest of turns and took a risky flyer to the final vertical.
“He has plenty of ability and a big jumper but he’s not naturally quick so I came in as tight as I possibly could,” explained David, who had changed his tactics for tonight.
“I’d never ridden him indoors before and for the past two days I was riding him like I thought he should go indoors and he had fences. So, I’ve changed back to riding him like I did outdoors.”
“I didn’t watch anyone go before me, I like to have my plan and stick to it, although I hadn’t realised how much the fences had gone up. I’d planned to take out a stride and go on five strides to fence two until I saw how big it was, I soon changed my mind,” added David, and gave a special mention to course-designer Bob Ellis.
“It’s an honour to win at Bob’s last HOYS – he deserves his retirement but we will miss him a lot.”
Harry Charles chased hard encouraged by shouts from the crowd and came the closest to David’s time but was still one whole second out to take the runner-up spot on Valkiry De Zance.
Michael Whitaker eased Strides Hilanasterne into third ahead of Georgia Tame in fourth with Jeff Ten Halven. Ireland’s Denis Lynch was fifth on GC Chopin’s Bushi and Julie Andrews produced the steadiest of the double clears for sixth on Ayrton IV.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around