Matt Sampson steals the spotlight at Royal Windsor

Sunday 05 May 2024

Matt Sampson steals the spotlight at Royal Windsor

“I’m delighted, she’s been knocking on the door for a win and after yesterday, she deserved it,” said Matt. 

Twenty-six riders tackled course-designer Bernardo Costa Cabral’s 12-fence 1.50m track in this two-round competition but only four riders mastered the course and, as 10 qualified for the second round, six others carrying their faults made their way into the jump-off going in reverse order of merit.  Two opted to withdraw at this stage to leave eight contenders over the shortened course, where those that dared to take out strides down the distances won out.

First off Harry Charles, on four faults from round one with Bandit – who was making his five-star debut – had nothing to lose and with calculated risks, set the fastest time of the class. He stayed ahead until Austria’s Max Kuhner, on a frustrating first-round one time fault, remained clear second time out to take over a short-lived lead.  The USA’s Laura Kraut piloted Calgary Tame posted the first double clear in a competitive time, but again the lead changed immediately.

Friday’s class appeared a mere warm-up as Matt, now the only British hope of a win, set sail with Isabel Fox’s eager MGH Candy Girl. They gave their all in front of the receptive audience, Matt trusting the Sligo Candy Boy x Cruising 11-year-old to gallop at the tall verticals and bag the win by a slim 0.04 seconds.

Danger in the final draw came in the form of The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders but opted for an easier round on Monaco NOP to slip into third place.

“Candy’s great and has a super character; she’s only 15.2hh and the jumps are nearly as big as her!  She’s a naturally fast horse and when she’s clear, if I ride well, she’s there or thereabouts.  I went as fast as I could and hoped I was quick enough.  I try to stick to my plan and not be swayed by anyone else’s round, it can make you take too many chances and I don’t want to do that with her,” added Matt.   

Joe Stockdale was the fastest man of the match in the 5* Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The King’s Cup but the slightest of touches brought one rail down on the handsome Ebanking knocked him out of the reckoning, leaving The USA’s Kent Farrington – a somewhat Windsor specialist as twice former winner of the Rolex Grand Prix – to pick up the spoils.

Only six returned for the jump-off from the original 25 starters faced with the 13-fence 1.55m track as Austria’s Max Kuhner opted to withdraw Elektric Blue P from round two.  Kent opened with a competitive round on the 11-year-old Landon, setting the target for everyone else to chase. 

Joe was in it to win it and in contention all the way on Barbara Hester and Laura Stockdale’s 10-year-old Etoulon x VDL Sheraton stallion.  They had the crowd’s gasping as negotiated the tightest of turns to beat the winning time by 2.34 seconds, but fell victim to the final fence, so lightly tapping out the top rail and dropping down to fourth.

“I was gutted.  I’d watched Kent’s round and had a good plan; I knew there were only two rollbacks where I could make up the time and he was jumping fantastic.  He just tickled the last behind [with his hind legs], I don’t think he knew he’d even touched it; it was so soft, I didn’t realise until I heard the crowd shout,” said Joe.  “He deserved the win, it was gutting but I was delighted with how he jumped, he was perfect; he’s definitely one for the future with the ability to win.  If I had my chance again, I wouldn't do anything any differently and nine times out of ten he’d come down and jump it.”

Kent remained at the top on Landon, Italy’s Guilia Martinengo Marquet finished second on Scuderia 1918 Calle Deluxe 1.51 seconds off the pace with Harrie Smolders in third, posting the only other double clear aboard Springfield 21.

“Windsor is one of my favourite shows, there’s a great crowd and lots of support for my sport; I really appreciate it and love to keep coming back,” said Kent.

The Kingdom of Bahrain Services Team Jumping at the Royal Windsor Horse Show is a pinnacle event for military sport. The competition awards the Queen’s Plate to the best team on non-military working horses, the Queen's Cup to the best team on military working horses, and the Challenge Trophy to the best international team.  

This year, the Army Team Marlborough of Capt Mary Pearson (RAVC) riding Je Taime Fandango, Pte Will Field (PWRR) riding Graddus T and Gnr Charlotte Pudge (RA) riding Cassinaro Dreamer, took a well-deserved victory in the overall competition and the Queen's Plate. Gnr Pudge's super-swift jump-off time was 10 seconds faster than her closest rival, Sami Ghazwan of the Bahrain Defense Force, whose team took home the Challenge Trophy. The highest placed team mounted on military working horses was the Defence Animal Training Regiment A. Army Marlborough A's Pte Field took the Worshipful Co of Saddlers' Bridle for the highest Under-25. 

Royal Windsor Horse Show – Saturday, 4 May 2024
The Defender Challenge Stakes

1st Matt Sampson (GBR) & MGH Candy Girl – 0/0 - 33.66 seconds
2nd Laura Kraut (USA) & Calgary Tame – 0/0 - 33.70 seconds
3rd Harrie Smolders (NED) & Monaco N.O.P. – 0/0 38.17 seconds 

The Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The King’s Cup

1st Kent Farrington (USA) & Landon – 0/0 35.38 seconds
2nd Guilia Martinengo Marquet (ITA) & Scuderia 1918 Calle Deluxe – 0/0 37.09 seconds
3rd Harrie Smolders (NED) & Springfield 21 – 0/0 38.73 seconds
4th Joe Stockdale (GBR) & Ebanking – 0/4 32.72 seconds 

 
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