David Simpson claims the CSI2* Grande Prix Autumn Met
David Simpson (IRL) concluded what has been a very successful Autumn MET for himself and his team, with victory in Sunday’s CSI2* Grand Prix presented by Suzuki.
Aboard the 12-year-old mare Chessy 17 (Cellestial x Kolibri), Simpson finished off the Autumn MET 2016 in the best possible way as four weeks of competition in Oliva came to an end this afternoon.
“It’s been an incredible Autumn MET,” said Simpson after his victory – referring to how his wife Louise and himself have been constantly present at the prize giving ceremonies in Oliva. “But, to be honest – it is down to the horses. We set up together three years ago, and it takes time to get a new stable going. Suddenly, we find ourselves with a great group of owners and an incredible bunch of horses – so things are good, but it’s down to good horses! The horses we have here, we all produced ourselves – either they have come to us as youngsters or from amateur riders.”
The last Sunday of the Autumn MET reflected the entire Tour. Like any other day over the last weeks, the sun was shining and the weather warm – with lovely conditions for horses, riders and spectators. The sport was also as its best today, with a perfect number of twelve out of nearly 80 riders going clear over the first round track and qualifying for the jump-off.
“The course building the three weeks I have been here has been incredible. It was not huge, it was not gut-busting, it was not a horrible line somewhere that the riders walked and thought was not fair. Today, you had a few options and if you took the wrong one you had a fence down,” Simpson said as he praised the course design at the Tour.
Peter Schumacher’s jump-off track made use of the entire grass ring, with several long and open stretches to let the horses gallop. With the exception of three roll-back turns, the rest of the shortened course was all about speed – and like in the three other Grand Prix competitions at the Autumn MET it finished with a long stretch towards a vertical as the final challenge.
None of the first five riders in the ring could keep the track intact, and left the ring on a four point penalty score or more – leaving the door open for the remaining seven.
As rider no. six in the ring, Nicole Holmén (SWE) rode the first clear round aboard the 11-year-old Cochella (Cartani x Lord) stopping the clock at 46.11 seconds. Her lead was not to last though, as Simpson was next to go. Fresh from a second place in last weekend’s CSI2* Grand Prix, Simpson looked determined to make it all the way to the top this time around and left the ring in the lead after producing a clear round bringing the time down to 45.25 seconds.
With some very fast riders to come, Simpson was holding his breath – and with good reason. Katharina Offel (GER) followed him in the ring and gave everything on the 10-year-old stallion Umeunig Z (Untouchable Z x Chellano Z) to record the fastest time of the class at an incredible 44.09 seconds, but unfortunately a light touch on the top rail on the final vertical caused it to fall and eventually the German rider had to settle for fourth place.
One rider later home rider Luis Jesus Escobar went into third place between Holmén and Offel, much to the joy of the Spanish crowds. Luck was definitely on Escobar’s side in the jump-off, as Conjurer (Coronado x Royal Z II) rattled several poles on the way – but the all stayed in the cups to give the hosts a great finish to the Autumn MET.
As last to go, also Constant Van Paesschen (BEL) gave Simpson a proper run for the money. Known as one of the fastest on the circuit, Van Paesschen gave it a real try on the hughely talented 8-year-old Astro Boy (Sarantos x Guidam) – but on the expense of an early rail which in the end put him fifth on four faults and a time of 44.20 seconds.
“My strategy was just to go as fast as I could,” said David Simpson afterwards. “A lot went on seven strides to the double, but I knew I had to do eight there – so I also knew I would be slower on this line. But, I thought be quick everywhere else and I could still be fast. With people like Constant and Kathi coming behind you, you want to go really fast – otherwise they will beat you. So, I planned to do what I could do and leave it for everybody else to try and beat me.”
Simpson’s winning mount, Chessy 17 has been reunited with her rider after being sold last year. “Her rider Leah DeMartini has gone off to college, so she asked me at the start of the summer if I could ride Chessy again and I said ‘definitely’,” smiled Simpson. “Leah has done an incredible job with her, she came back and has not stopped winning. Chessy is a pleaser; so careful and fast – and she loves grass rings. I just love her; she has everything you want in a horse.”
Simpson is already planning his return to Oliva next year, for the Spring MET 2017. “I absolutely love it here. I think it is the most incredible tour of all. The numbers are just right, you have lots of space to work the horses and I think the beach makes a huge difference. When you can hack them down there, it really freshens them up – and I find that every day that you jump them here they get better.”
Full results can be found here.