Outspoken and a phenomenal character, the talented Yorkshireman remains one of showjumping’s biggest names, says Jennifer Donald
Ask any member of the public to name a showjumper and the first name to roll off the tongue is likely to be Harvey Smith. It is testament to the Yorkshireman’s brilliance in the saddle – as well as his antics out of it – that even 30 years after he left the sport, he remains one of the world’s most recognised equestrians.
For decades, this likeably controversial and straight-talking character held the nation in thrall, ascending the ranks of a traditionally stuffy, upper-class sport to reign in an era when showjumping was prime time viewing and the leading riders became household names.
Outspoken? Yes. Rebellious? Often. But Harvey will always be remembered for the immense contribution he made to the sport, not only as the ultimate showman, but as an Olympian who represented his country with fierce patriotism and whose desire never to be beaten drove him to win more than 50 grands prix, four Hickstead Derby titles, six championship medals and a swathe of prestigious trophies.
So it’s almost incomprehensible that this astute horseman has never had a riding lesson in his life.