‘Without the horses, we’re nothing’: rider salutes his HOYS winner

Ireland had even more to celebrate yesterday (7 October) as David Simpson took the illustrious title of leading showjumper of the year at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

While the Irish showjumping team secured Tokyo 2020 qualification by winning the Longines Nations Cup final in Barcelona, David and Gentlemen VH Veldhof fought off competition from 15 top combinations at the NEC in Birmingham in the jump-off to secure the HOYS title on 33.43 seconds. Harry Charles was second on Valkiry De Zance, while Michael Whitaker was third on Strides Hilanasterne.

David described the 13-year-old gelding, who he has had the ride on since June, as “absolutely incredible”.

“Firstly I have to thank the Vitak family for the opportunity to ride such an incredible horse. Without the horse we’re nothing,” he said.

“I got him the Monday before the Hickstead Derby and that was our first show together. A month later he won the Queen’s Cup (27 July), a month after that he was double clear in the Nations Cup in Gijon (30 August) and a month later he wins here.”

David said the gelding is “very consistent”.

“He has so much ability. He’s not naturally a quick horse but he’s a big jumper. I thought if I can go as tight as I possibly can [in the jump off] then hopefully the other guys will try to catch me and make mistakes,” he said.

“HOYS is something I’ve watched since I was a kid. To win this grand prix is an incredible feeling and I’m so happy to be part of what is the Horse of the Year Show.”

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Team Ireland; Peter Maloney, Darragh Kenny, Paul O’Shea and Ciaon O’ Connor had finished on one time-fault to win in Barcelona.

“What those guys pulled together and did – we’re one of the best nations in the world right now and we just weren’t nailing it at the championships, not since the 2017 Europeans in Gothenburg – and the guys just did it. Cian, Darragh, Peter and Paul, they just absolutely nailed it,” said David

“Everything we’re doing at the minute is for a very close teammate and friend of ours, Kevin Babbington, who’s fighting a really tough fight at the minute – this is for you Kevin.”

Kevin is recovering from a serious spinal injury sustained in a fall at the Hampton Classic Horse Show in New York on 3 August.

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