Nigel Coupe has won the Leading Showjumper of the Year Grand Prix at HOYS on a former working hunter.
Nigel and Golvers Hill were one of seven combinations to make it through to the jump-off. John Whitaker set a fast time of 38.88 seconds with Argento, but Nigel managed to shave 0.88sec of his time to take the title.
“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.”
Golvers Hill previously competing at HOYS in the working hunter class, with his owner Susan Simmons.
“He is a top, top horse,” said Nigel. “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 into second place in the Grand Prix, John Whitaker took the Leading Athlete Award, which is presented to the horse/rider combination to accumulate the most points throughout the show.
Earlier in the week John won the NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes, and he won the Horse & Country TV Challenge Cup on the final day. This is the first time H&C has sponsored a class at HOYS.
The 62-year-old used his years of experience to beat Helen Tredwell by just two hundredths of a second, much to the delight of the crowd who cheered John home.
“The horse is still improving,” said John. “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.”
In showing, 12 champion ponies from across the week gathered in the international arena for the Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year. It was Lucy Richardson’s fabulous Mountain & Moorland lead rein pony Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart who was victorious. Ridden by Olivia Brightmore, ‘Charles’ is produced and shown in the ring by Sharn Linney.
The equally prestigious title of Ripon Select Foods Supreme Horse of the Year Champion went to Diamonds are Forever III, owned by Annabel Jenks.
The unbeaten eight-year-old won the Topham Barnes Riding Horse of the Year Championship earlier in the day with Allister Hood, but the ride was given to Allister’s son Oliver for the Supreme.
Another much-coveted HOYS title is the Prince Philip Cup, which was taken by Oakley Hunt West for the ninth time.
The club was 24 points clear of its nearest rivals, with West Hants and the Eglington finishing joint-second on 99 points, while Romney Marsh took fourth.
You can watch highlights of the Leading Showjumper of the Year on H&C.