Sammie Jo Coffin lived what felt like a lifetime between her third draw and the end of the Prenetics Castle Stakes at the Royal International Horse Show — but she and her seasoned campaigner Willem De Lux had done enough to secure the CSI2* win.
Sammie Jo and the 18-year-old with whom she has enjoyed a superb career, including completing the Hickstead Derby course four times, coming sixth in 2018, set a time that could not be beaten by any of the 47 riders that followed them in the two-phase class.
“It felt like a lifetime!” she said. “I didn’t overthink it; I was early to go and hadn’t had much time to walk the course so I just went in and did what was in front of me, and he was amazing; he did everything I asked of him.
“He never disappoints when he comes here.”
Sammie Jo said the sharp, quick-thinking KWPN gelding always tries his hardest.
“He’s got a massive heart, and probably jumps above his scope,” she said. “There were so many people to come after me but I couldn’t have done any more, especially to the last; we literally galloped to it.”
Sammie Jo added that the question over how many times Willem will have the chance to jump in the international arena he likes so much is always in her mind owing to his age.
“I almost didn’t bring him as I’ve got another one who’s really scopey, but he had to come, and good job he did!” she said.
“We look after him; he doesn’t jump much in winter, but he’s just a legend, isn’t he? You won’t find many more like him, he’s such a dude, and he loves it here.”
Sammie Jo said horses have to be brave to excel in Hickstead’s “amazing” grass ring, as “it’s not like any other”.
“You wouldn’t want a chicken-hearted one in there!” she said.
Willem and Sammie Jo will now contest the CSI2* Science Supplements BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup tomorrow (25 July).
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