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Coupe looking to build on Hickstead Derby glory

Gulf News 2018-01-10 17:38:00

Abu Dhabi: British showjumper Nigel Coupe has arrived in the capital for the Al Shira’aa International Horse Show at the back of a tremendous 2017 season.

Coupe enhanced his reputation by winning the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby and Leading Showjumper of the Year following Grand Prix triumph at the Horse of the Year Show. He will be trying to make a mark in Abu Dhabi with his Hickstead partner Golvers Hill, also known as Ricky. That’s not all. He has also arrived with two more horses Jubilee and Dragon.

“Yes, I have brought three horses — Golvers Hill is one. Jubilee is a chestnut mare and she has been quite successful as she won a national Grand Prix in November. Dragon, who is a bit younger and who can hopefully step up to the grade in one or two Grand Prix because Ricky won’t be jumping in every Grand Prix every weekend,” said Coupe, who won the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby following a two-way jump-off with Harriet Nuttall.

Hickstead success was a huge shot in the arm for Coupe as he had been eyeing the derby for a number of years since he first rode in this class in the 1990s. His best finish before clinching the title had come in 2015 where he finished second.

The 46-year-old revealed he was full of mixed emotions after winning Hickstead. “Not many people know the feeling. Probably only 40-50 riders have it in the history of the competition. But it feels amazing. I mean, however, you think it would feel, it feels 100 times better and it’s still not sunk in yet,” said Coupe, adding once he jumped clear at Hickstead there were only three riders left and as he was close to realising his dream, Harriet too jumped clear and he was forced to do it all over again.

“I had to regroup my thought. I went first in the jump off and I had one down which was slightly annoying. I have watched that video and I’m still not sure why that happened. After the finish I thought it was all over. But Harriet then had the same fence down and had to do catch-up on time and eventually has another fence down. It was pure elation but to watch her round was terrible. It was like going from the depths of lows to an absolute high — just amazing,” recalled Coupe, who rated his partner in success — Golvers Hill as a ‘grumpy monkey’ with lot of appetite for food.

“He can be grumpy at times, except for when he’s got his feed. He is a great horse and kind of wants to do well for which I think is a trait in a horse that is impossible to buy,” said Coupe also announcing that the Golvers Hill would retire along with him.

“He means a world to me. He will live out his days on my farm and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s won for me. Not just Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby, he’s won quite a few grand prixs. Hopefully, he can do well here as well.”