David Will lifted the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead, becoming the first German rider to win the trophy since Holger Wulschner in 2008.
Will, 31, was aiming to ride one of his other international horses in today’s Grand Prix, but ended up having to change plans and compete his new ride, the nine-year-old Holsteiner Never Walk Alone, instead – a decision that certainly paid off when he finished top of a five-strong jump-off.
“It’s actually only our fourth show together, we did one show in Poland two weeks ago and won the Grand Prix there,” said David. “The horse I’d planned to ride was a little bit sick and had a bit of a temperature on the first day. She’s recovered, but we thought it would be better not to jump her, so we thought we’d give it a shot with Never Walk Alone and it turned out to be great! I thought he jumped both rounds exceptionally good. He was really, really fighting.”
David in winning form at Hickstead Photo: Julian Portch
The Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup is one of the most coveted Grands Prix in the world. First held held in 1911, it has since been won by many of the sport’s biggest names.
“It’s something very special to be on the trophy forever. I couldn’t be happier. As we know, it’s a very special arena – a horse has to really be brave and try his best, and mine couldn’t have been better.”
Asked if he was a Liverpool fan, given his winning horse’s name, he said: “I’m certainly a Liverpool fan now! They have a German manager in Jurgen Klopp, so now we’re following them a bit more in Germany too.”
Olympic silver medallist Peder Fredricson (SWE) was first to ride against the clock, setting a time of 45.28sec with Zacramento, before David shaved more than a second off his time to take the lead.
“Of course I’d like to have my name on the trophy, but we had a great week and I’m really happy with how my horse jumped,” said Peder, who was part of Friday’s winning Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ team but had to settle for the runner-up spot today.
Swedish rider Fredrik Jonsson (Cold Play) and Brazil’s Luiz de Azevedo Filho (Chachito) both produced double clears but neither could catch David’s time.
Ireland’s Michael Duffy came closest after finishing in the second fastest time on Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars, but unfortunately he was later eliminated under FEI blood rules, and dropped to fifth place.
No British rider has won the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup since Ben Maher in 2013, and today none of the home contenders made it through to the jump-off. Guy Williams (Rouge De Ravel) and Amy Inglis (Wishes) came closest, with just four faults apiece.
Shortly before the King George, Tripple X III – the horse who took Britain’s Ben Maher to Olympic team gold at London 2012 – was officially retired. The last time Ben rode Tripple X III was in 2013 when he won the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup here, and today the crowd gave the horse a standing ovation as he returned to the scene of one of his biggest wins.
Tiffany Foster, who has competed the horse at the top level for the past six years, was also there to say farewell to the 17-year-old black stallion. Tripple X III was ridden into the arena by Ben, before the horse’s saddle was removed and he was led out of the arena by Tiffany.
In the morning, young talents were on show in the Old Lodge International 7&8 Year Old Championship, with the spoils going to Brazil’s Thiago Ribas Da Costa
His win came courtesy of seven-year-old Mano Negra Van De Bucxtale, who often saves his best for last. “He always jumps his best on the last day, and he’s got some really good results,” says Thiago, who has been based in the Netherlands for the last four years and was making his first ever visit to Hickstead. To compete at the home of British showjumping, and even better to win here, was the realisation of a longheld ambition. “It’s unbelievable – it was my dream, one day, to be here,” added the emotional rider.
The Longines Royal International Horse Show finished ended, bringing six days of competition to a close. The next fixture to take place at Hickstead is the Hurst College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships (Thursday 1 August), followed by the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships (29 August to 1 September). Admission to both events is free to spectators.