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Nigel Coupe crowned the Leading Showjumper of the Year 2017

Monday, 09 October 2017
CSI3* HOYS /Birmingham 2017

Photo (c) Julian Porch photography. Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill. Photo (c) Julian Porch photography.

Nigel Coupe hailed his horse with "a heart of gold" after completing a spectacular treble on the final evening at Horse of the Year Show, Birmingham’s NEC Genting Arena. Golvers Hill (Ricardo Z x Clover Hill), a 14-year-old bay gelding that once competed as a working hunter at HOYS, took the Leading Showjumper of the Year Grand Prix title.

John Whitaker had set a brilliant time of 38.88 seconds with Argento (Arko III x Gasper), which left Nigel no choice but to do it the hard way. Clocking 38 seconds exactly, Nigel landed the £13,200 top prize, with Robert Smith and Ilton (Dulf van den Bisschop x Calvaro) finishing third.

It proved a pulsating finish to a memorable five days of action at the Genting Arena, but it was Lancashire-based Nigel's night following a finale to savour. "It's amazing," Nigel said. "I first came here in 1986, and we won the leading pony class in 1987, and finally to win the big one here is amazing. He is a top, top horse. He has just got a heart of gold, and there is not a lot more you can say about him. You have got to have a go in the jump-off, but you should also pinch yourself a little bit. We work hard, and this year we have had an exceptional year. He is a horse that just doesn't get fazed."

Despite being bumped to second in the grand prix class, John Whitaker took the Leading Athlete Award which was presented to the horse/rider combination who had accumulated the most points throughout the show.

Holly Smith takes The Zinc Management Speed Horse of the Year

Photo (c) HOYS. Holly Smith with Quality Old Joker. Photo (c) HOYS.

Leicestershire's Holly Smith once again underlined the versatility of Quality Old Joker (breeding unknown) as she won the Zinc Management Speed Horse of the Year title at the Horse of the Year Show.

The nine-year-old bay gelding's career also shows success at two-star grand prix level and in last year's Horse of the Year Show puissance. Now a prestigious speed class has been added to the portfolio, together with a prize of £4,620. "It's absolutely fantastic," Holly said. "I am thrilled with the horse.

"He is a massive horse and he is so versatile. He was third in the Hickstead Derby this year, he has won a two-star grand prix, he can win a speed class, a puissance. He can do anything."

"To win this and to have shared in winning a class earlier this week is great. We have got some of the best riders in the world here, and it's great to be jumping against them."

Holly's time of 61.24 seconds saw her home by just eight hundredths of a second from Belgium's Francois Mathy Jr riding Casanova de L'Herse (Ugano Sitte x Kashmir van Schuttershof), with Irish Nations Cup rider Shane Breen taking third aboard Hallowberry Cruz (Cruising x Clover Hill).

"I did five strides to the last, which I think gained me some time, but I thought I might get overtaken," added Holly, who broke her leg earlier this year. "There was a run of four or five riders towards the end, but they had fences down."

And looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, she said: "I would like to think I can get on a couple of teams next year, then a year later, hopefully back in the big time. All the horses are confident and going well, and to have a couple of wins under my belt this week is great."

A win for John Whitaker in the Horse & Country TV Challenge Cup

John Whitaker with Crumley. Photo (c) HOYS. John Whitaker with Crumley. Photo (c) HOYS.

John Whitaker completed an outstanding double at the 2017 Horse of the Year Show by thrilling a bumper Sunday afternoon crowd at Birmingham's Genting Arena. The 62-year-old Yorkshireman, who has won numerous medals for Great Britain in major showjumping championships, followed up his victory in Friday's NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes by landing The Horse & Country TV Challenge Cup.

The two-phase competition sees riders contest the second part of the course in jump-off mode, and it proved to be an exciting battle between John and his fellow in-form British rider Helen Tredwell.

Drawn second to go, Helen clocked 32.19 seconds with Larksong (Vangelis-S x Larino), and John admitted afterwards that he knew the Buckinghamshire rider had set a testing time to beat.

But John showcased all of his experience with nine-year-old bay gelding Crumley (Cassus x As Di Villagana) and managed to clip two hundredths of a second off Helen's time, while third place went to Belgian challenger Jos Verlooy, riding Caddie R (Come Back II x Lucky Light).

"It's great to win here," John said. "He jumped really well. I was fourth to go. Helen Tredwell was quick enough, and there was an option of an inside turn to the last gate, which was risky, but I realised I had to do if I wanted to beat Helen, and it came off.

"The horse is still improving. He is nine-years-old so he hasn't got much experience and is not quite used to this atmosphere with this fantastic crowd, but he is such a good horse. To win on Friday was exceptional, and to do it again is great, so I am really pleased."

Source: Press release from HOYS // Picture © HOYS and Julian Porch Photography

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