By Penny Richardson
Four British riders faced considerable overseas opposition while the jump-off over yet another brilliant course set by Alan Wade had everything. Second-drawn James Wilson set the crowd alight with a round on Imagine De Muze that was good enough to win most big classes. But this wasn’t any ordinary competition.
William Whitaker had already warned that RMF Cadeau De Muze is a big jumper, but not a speed horse and although they jumped clear again, they were more than two seconds off the pace. Then in came Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and with some terrific turns on Identity Vitseroel she took the lead by more than two seconds.
When Holly Smith and Hearts Destiny missed her time by a fraction, Edwina must have thought that the prize-money was in the bank. She was still leading when Scott Brash came in on Hello Vincent, a horse better known in Britain as Coquin De Coquerie Z when ridden by Jodie Hall-McAteer.
Scott has only had this 10-year-old stallion for four months and had previously concentrated on getting to know him. He certainly let the handbrake off this time and they proceeded to jump the perfect round. They were down on the clock coming into the penultimate double, but with an amazing gallop to the final oxer, they finished almost a second ahead.
Scott spotted Vincent at shows in England with Jodie.
“I’d always liked him and thought she was doing a great job producing him,” he said. “He absolutely loves jumping and the faster I go the more he seems to like it.”
After regrouping due to the retirements of Hello Ursula and Hello Sanctos, Scott is now back with a strong team of younger horses.
“It’s taken me a couple of years to bring on the next generation, but things are looking good now,” he said.
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Holly Smith was extremely happy with third place and the show’s leading rider award.
“Hearts Destiny has taken me to places I’d only ever dreamed of,” she said. “I’m off to Liverpool next with the same horses and then I’ll have six weeks at home to regroup before a trip to Spain for the sunshine tour. After that it will hopefully be Nations Cups and Tokyo, which is the ultimate dream.”
It will be a quick turnaround around for James Wilson, who leaves for Mechelen’s World Cup show in Belgium on Boxing Day.
It has been a year of firsts for the rider from the West Country.
“It’s all a bit of a dream. I’ve jumped in my first Nations Cup, then been placed in my first World Cup qualifier and now I’ve finished fourth in the grand prix at my first Olympia,” he said. “Getting to Las Vegas and the World Cup final wasn’t even on my radar, but she keeps getting placed in qualifiers and I think I’m going to have to try now.”
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