‘It means the world’: Bolesworth winners carry touch of orange to moving victory in support of owners’ grandson

  • Paul Sims and Dream Roller carried orange ribbons to victory in support of a five-year-old boy undergoing treatment for Leukaemia in Friday night’s CSI3* feature class at the Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth International Horse Show (29 June to 3 July).

    The pair were drawn last to go in the eight-strong jump-off in the Dodson & Horrell-sponsored 1.50m grand prix qualifier and ended Carmen Edwards and Happy Valerie’s short-held lead to score an emotional win.

    Paul wore an orange pin on his lapel and the 11-year-old gelding wore a ribbon in his tail in support of owners Karen and Pete Littler’s five-year-old grandson Charlie, who was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia in January.

    “It means the absolute world to the owners and to me,” Paul told H&H, adding his thoughts are with “little Charlie” and raising awareness of the condition.

    Paul and the Diamond Roller son are both converts from eventing to the coloured poles.

    Paul was known on the eventing circuit for his partnership with the great five-star contender Glengarnock, with whom he completed Badminton and Burghley on a combined total of eight occasions.

    The 35-year-old produced Dream Roller from a five-year-old to intermediate level, before they switched to showjumping.

    “I decided I was going to stop eventing a couple of years ago and he was eight at the time, so he was the first horse I started showjumping on,” said Paul, adding he has taken things steady with the Irish gelding, as he has taken a while to develop into his frame.

    “He just gets better and better all the time,” he said. “We have to keep him fit and trim, he would be a good doer. He’s an incredible horse and an unbelievable character on the yard. We love him to bits.

    “Yesterday was my first ever ranking class and I came second, today was my first 1.50 and we won.

    “Over the last month he has been going really well. He jumped Bramham grand prix for four faults, where I let him down. I let him down yesterday where we had four faults, I jumped an area trial with him a few weeks ago, where I let him down as we had one down. I wanted everything today to just go right, and it has. It’s unbelievable.”

    He added: “He was a bit sticky on the line from two to three – he clocked an umbrella at the back of the arena and I thought ‘are we going or not?’ After that everything felt foot-perfect.

    “In the jump-off I thought ‘I’m last to go, I’m qualified for the grand prix, I’m going to get stuck in and see what happens.”

    The decision paid off and Paul stopped the clock 0.19 seconds ahead of good friend and football team-mate Carmen.

    “I thought I’d done enough, but I got a bit carried away and Paul has just done an unbelievable round. It’s fantastic to have both of us here, it’s a home show for both of us. So to have that result at home, you can’t describe it,” said Carmen, who overcame a double wardrobe malfunction that meant both horse and rider needed “re-showing” ahead of their round.

    The mare pulled a shoe off in the warm-up, and Carmen’s boots gave way. One farrier and some gaffer tape later, and the combination produced a lightning performance to pile the pressure on Paul.

    “I was sweating a little bit when I came in, I lost a shoe and so did the horse! She’s a wonderful mare, I’ve had her since she was a three-year-old,” said Carmen, thanking his parents and the Kelletts, who own the 10-year-old Verdi daughter.

    “They’ve supported me with this horse. Like Paul, we usually produce and sell them, so for me to be able to compete in this ring and in this class and then to have that result, you can’t really put that into words,” said Carmen.

    “It’s always nice to win, but me and Paul see each other on the four-year-olds at Kelsall day in, day out, ducking and diving and I have as much respect for him and how he works as he does for me. Yes of course I would love to have won, but for Paul to beat me is like a win.”

    Carmen was wearing a yellow heart pin on his lapel, in support of Shaz Quigley, who sustained serious head injuries in an accident a year ago.

    “My mum is one of Shaz’s best friends and goes to see her everyday, it means something to my mum and to Shaz and it’s something I’ll never take off now,” he added.

    Third place went to Yazmin Davis, riding Alison Davis’ 13-year-old Zandor gelding Zanbowa Z.

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