Hendrik-Jan Schuttert made history at Hickstead by becoming the first Dutch rider to win the King George V Gold Cup Grand Prix, which was first run in 1911. Riding Cerona HS, the 22-year-old rider’s target was too good for Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum and Chiara to snatch a late victory, relegating the multiple-medal winner to second.
Just nine of the 47 starters went clear of London Olympic course-designer Bob Ellis’s track. “He’s done an amazing job,” said Ludger. “With a lot of first team horses not being competed this week in preparation for the Olympics, he had a real mixed field of top combinations and some that were not so experienced.”
A double of gates on a slight downhill run at five caused the most problems, with 19 of the starters hitting one of its elements. Riders were obviously disappointed not to make the jump-off, but a couple turned their misfortune into comedy for the crowd.
Having had the first two down on Uppercut II, Britain’s Geoff Billington stopped, reached in his pocket for a white handkerchief and waved it in the air. Dutchman Albert Voorn, who followed immediately after Geoff didn’t even get to jump the first fence. Tobalio stopped and unseated his rider just after they had crossed the start line. Albert then dropped to his knees and bowed elegantly to the crowd.
However, things returned to the serious business of winning for the jump-off. Pieter Devos was first out for Belgium with Candy, and came home clear to set the standard. Soon after, Marie Hecart, riding Myself de Breve for France, found an extra 1.5seconds.
The home crowd went wild as their own Louise Pavitt – who lives at Hickstead with her boyfriend David Simpson a stable jockey of Shane Breen’s – and Don VHP entered the arena. At her first attempt at a five-star Grand Prix, she went clear and slotted into the order just behind Marie. “I am absolutely thrilled,” said Louise, who has won numerous national classes with the eight-year-old stallion. “I am now hoping that I can take him abroad a bit now.”
For a brief moment it looked like Marie could have been the class’s first female winner, but Hendrik-Jan pulled off a route nobody had yet tried. “As I came over [the second last] brush oxer, I saw a line to the last,” said Hendrik-Jan, who won the Copenhagen Grand Prix earlier this year. “But knowing that Ludger was behind me, I thought I was going to finish second.”
However, an extra stride down to the double of gates lost the legendary rider time and he and Chiara finished second. “I am still very happy with my horse,” he said. “I have only had her for eight months so we are still building our relationship. I haven’t been to Hickstead for a few years, but Marcus Ehning told me the improvements were really good. And I must say the going has been perfect from day one, so well done to everybody involved.”
Written by: Kerry Bowness
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