There was a strong field of contenders for this Grand Prix track designed by Kelvin Bywater, with 16 horse and rider combinations through to the jump off. With a mix of youth and experienced riders, the jump off separated the field seeing very few double clears.. David Simpson took some brave turns riding 13-year-old bay mare Gentlemen VH Veldhof and came over the finish in an unbeatable time of 33.43 seconds. Harry Charles had to settle for second place with Valkiry De Zance and Michael Whitaker in third with Strides Hilanasterne.
Speaking of his win ahead of the HOYS finale, David commented: “He’s an incredible horse and I really have to thank the owners for the opportunity to ride him; without the horse we are nothing. I only started riding him a week before the Hickstead Derby and then a month later we won the Queen’s Cup, another month later we were jumping double clear in the Nations Cup in Gijon, and then a further month later we are winning here at HOYS.
“He is very consistent, and a big jumper but he is not particularly fast, so I really wanted to ride to his strengths. When I walked the jump off course I thought ‘wow this is tough’. The field of riders was so strong this year, there wasn’t anyone who I thought couldn’t beat me. I made my plan on which turns I was going to make and stuck to it. To win this Grand Prix here is an incredible feeling. It is something which I have watched since I was a kid and I am so happy to be part of what is Horse of the Year Show.”
Tonight’s Grand Prix course proved extra special, as it was the final time course builder Bob Ellis would be lifting a pole or measuring a distance in the Andrews Bowen International Arena. David continues: “To win the final track of Bob Ellis’ time at Horse of the Year Show is a real honour. He is a great friend of mine and what he has brought to our sport is unbelievable.”
David dedicated his win tonight to his teammate, Kevin Babington who suffered a catastrophic fall whilst competing in New York this summer.