Ireland’s David Simpson and the “consistently careful” grey Foudre F were the sole combination to finish on a clean sheet in the Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth International Horse Show’s gripping CSI3* grand prix finale (Sunday, 11 July).
Course designer Louis Konickx’s tightly wheeled 1.50m track took no prisoners and the Bolesworth crowd were forced to wait 36 rounds for the first clear, with no time faults, which came from Holly Smith and her on-song Fruselli.
“[The first round] was tough, to be honest. I walked it and I thought I thought Louis had done a great job. I thought there was going to be about eight, maybe 10 clears, but it jumped tough,” said David, adding he is glad the course designer stuck to his guns with the time allowed.
“A lot of course builders when they get a few shaky rounds at the start, they extend the time. But I think to win a grand prix, it should be tough. You need to deserve to win it.”
The top 12 combinations were brought back to jump off and the rules stand that everyone carries forwards their faults from the first round. This means that unlike a jump-off where all competitors are starting on a zero score, it is possible for someone who had a fence in the first round to leapfrog ahead of those who initially jumped clear, but then added faults in the jump-off.
“Sometimes you can think it’s a bit unfair and feel sorry for yourself with your clear round that somebody might beat you who had a fence in the first round,” he said. “I just zoned out. I went over the course. I knew Holly was the only one I focused on that I had to beat.
“It’s incredible to have spectators back in sport. I can’t speak for all the other riders, but I know myself that there could be a million people here or there could be nobody here when I’m doing my round. I’m completely focused on myself and my horse. But the minute you hit the ground over the final fence, it’s like a rush of noise – it’s incredible.”
This is the second grand prix win in recent months for the 11-year-old gelding (Namelus R x San Patrignano Mister), who David co-owns with Breen Equestrian. The combination were also runners-up in the national grand prix class at Hickstead in June.
“One thing we do make sure with all my horses is that we have them really fit –as fit as I possibly can – because I think if they’re fit, they’re less likely to pick up injuries, and they can do more,” he said.
“I also think about their mind as well to try and keep them fresh. He’ll go home tomorrow and go out in the paddock for two hours and then go for a walk in the evening. We try and vary their work as well.”
David added his thoughts are very much with Sharon Quigley and her family. Sharon is in hospital after sustaining serious head injuries in an accident last week. David and many other riders at the show were wearing yellow heart pins in support.
“We are all praying for her and hoping she pulls through,” he added.
Second place went to another grey, Galtur, ridden by William Whitaker. The pair collected a single time fault in the first round, before producing a flawless jump-off clear to add pressure to those left to jump.
William said he is “delighted” with his horse’s performance and added that tactically, having combinations with first-round faults in the jump-off makes it quite different to ride.
“These grands prix where they take so many back are always difficult to judge, because you can jump a clear or a good round in the first round and if you have faults in the second round, then you can finish at the end. So it’s always a difficult one to judge but today, it worked out in my favour and I’m delighted,” he said, adding the horse’s owners, Philip and Jane Tuckwell, have been “great supporters” through lockdown.
“[The pandemic] was a difficult situation for owners, who had to think about whether they were going to keep horses in training or take them home and give them a break. I suggested that it would be a great advantage for me to be able to use that time to get to know Galtur, and then hopefully that gave us a head start when we got back to the shows. It’s great to be able to pay them back.”
Ireland proved a dominant force in the feature class, with five of the seven Irish riders on the start list finishing in the top eight.
This included third-placed Daniel Coyle and Oak Grove’s Carlyle, owned by Carmen Uwaydah, Gestüt Eichenhain Gmbh and T.J. Van Den Brink. The pair also finished the first round on a single time fault, before jumping a classy, steady clear in the jump-off.
“Everybody wants to win, but that’s my third show with the horse, so I’m really pleased. I’m getting to know him all the time and he has been placed in most classes we’ve jumped together and this is one of the biggest,” said Canada-based Daniel, who has taken on the ride from Jerome Dubbeldam.
“I was running low on horses and I said to Jerome, ‘I need another horse’ and he said, ‘maybe – just maybe – you can have my horse’. There’s nothing been better! The horse has been very lucky to me so far.”
Reflecting on the course, he added: “To have two clears – four [jumping] clears, two with time faults – is pretty good for any grands prix. It means that it’s not easy anywhere in the course. I think course builders did a good job all week.”
Holly Smith and Fruselli were unlucky to clip the rail on the penultimate fence, the upright red post box fence that featured in the London 2012 Olympics, which dropped them to fourth.
Ireland’s Eoin Gallagher and Faltic HB were fifth, adding nothing to their first round score of four, while fellow Irishman Anthony Condon and Zira VH Kapelhof Z finished sixth, with five faults from the first round and with a clear jump-off.
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