The SA Derby rider profiles: Nicola Sime-Riley

By Caroline Malan

Photo credit: Denford Studios

What makes Derby so amazing for you?

It’s the biggest show of the year and has the most amazing vibe throughout the whole show. The final day is particularly amazing. The show organisers just have it all worked out and everyone has their role.

What are your thoughts on this year’s Derby?

There is no big sponsor this year. It’s a bit scary that we are seeing less and less of the big sponsors at shows. I’m not sure if its the economy, politics or what the reason is. This year a lot of smaller sponsors have pulled together so support the Derby, which is great!

Which horses will you be jumping in the show – what grades?

I have Connoissuer for Derby this year as Elpaso has a stifle injury and he’s busy with rehab, but next year he’ll be back. In terms of other horses I have Reach for Gold in the 1.40m, Lazer in the 1.35m/1.40m, Crispin in the 1.35m and Contessa in the 1.30m.

What horse are you most excited to compete on for this show & why?

They’re all so different – I just love riding them all. Connoissuer has to be mentioned. I love riding him. He’s my “Rolls Royce” and is a Derby pro – he knows the course like the back of his hoof 😜

Explain your best ever Derby round to us

My best Derby was the year I won it, 2017. I can never beat that feeling. I went and sat in the warm-up arena on the fence while the other two jumped their jump-off. I couldn’t watch. I was first to go so I put the pressure on without being crazy. Both Anna and Ronnie were behind me and they are both fast against the clock. They each had an unlucky rail down making me the only double clear. When I knew I’d won it – wow, wow, wow – the feeling was just unbelievable. It’s an amazing feeling to have won one of the most prestigious classes🤗

Who are your horse and rider combo favourites for this year and why?

As always Nicole Horwood and Don Cumarco as they have won it so many times before. They’re a force to be reckoned with!

What is the one improvement you would like to see made to Derby to make it better/ more appealing?

Hmm… That’s difficult for me as I’ve always found it great from my end. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and just so amazing to be in that ring!

What are some of the techniques that you use to calm 1) yourself and 2) your horse down before entering the main Derby class?

I can’t say that I have any specific techniques. I get myself in my zone with my horse and ride the best round I possibly can.

In the parade do you ride your horse or a borrowed horse and why? 

I like to ride my horse in the parade to get him in the arena, feel the vibe and see the jumps.

Who is your favourite horse on the SA circuit at the moment and why?

My horses 🙄😂😜 They are the best 🤗😂

What is your biggest challenge whilst jumping that Derby championship?

Keeping it cool throughout the entire track.

https://horse.co.za/the-sa-derby-rider-profiles-nicola-sime-riley/

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