By Emily Randolph/Randolph PR
Katy, TX – Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy topped a field of 30 horse and rider combinations to win Thursday night’s $25,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix, marking the pair’s second grand prix victory at the 2022 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Katy, TX.
Of the 30 entries in the April 7 class, 10 combinations qualified for the jump-off, with nine opting to return to tackle Michel Vaillancourt’s seven fence jump-off course. As the second-to-last combination, Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy, owned by NKH LLC, turned in the winning time of 28.593 seconds.
Shawn Casady had all three of his mounts qualify for the jump-off, each besting the previous. However, with sharp turns and slices, Gamboa shaved more than two seconds from the leading time of 31.564 seconds previously set by Casady and Ekstra MF. As the last to go in the jump-off, Casady’s third and final mount, Sunny Boy 372, was the fastest of his rides, but the pair’s time of 31.483 seconds was not quite fast enough to catch Gamboa. Casady ultimately took home second aboard Rabbit Root Stables LLC’s Sunny Boy 372, third on Ekstra MF, and fourth with NKH Shiloh.
“I know the first horse Shawn went with in the jump-off,” said Gamboa, 21. “I thought he rode it quite quick and I knew I had to be on it to win it. I knew Shawn was behind me, and he’s a quick rider. I put the gas down and was quite happy with how my horse performed. I was pretty confident in my horse after walking out of that ring. I know he tried his heart out and I was happy either way.”
Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy, a 9-year-old Holsteiner stallion, are newly partnered and have had great success at the 76th-annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show thus far. The pair claimed Gamboa’s first grand prix victory of his career during Week I’s $30,000 Third Coast Bank Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix as well as third in Week II’s $25,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix.
Now, the pair has amassed a second grand prix title under their belt at just their first show together. The combination has been nurtured well under great management and are thriving together.
“He was brought along by Christian Heineking; he’s owned by Neil Knox, and he’s just been a super good guy to me,” says Gamboa, 21, who acquired the ride on the gelding while Heineking is out of the saddle due to an injury. “All the horses have been jumping great these three weeks. It’s just a great venue. I’m just happy to be here.”
With his consistent record, Gamboa is in the running for the leading rider title as well as a good chance at taking home Saturday’s $100,000 Pin Oak Grand Prix victory.
“Overall, these past three weeks, my horses have been jumping great. It’s been going well,” concluded Gamboa, who was also presented as the winner of the U25 Grand Prix held simultaneously with the $25,000 Grand Prix. “I’m looking forward to Saturday night. I’m kind of neck and neck with Shawn Casady for leading rider. I have a good string of horses and a great team behind me with the Heineking family, our grooms, and staff. We want to end the show on a good note and to keep going strong.”
Don’t let Gamboa’s rapid success during Pin Oak fool you, he has not been showing here for long.
“Last year was my first year here at Pin Oak,” said Gamboa. “I was just here the final week. This year we started off Pin Oak strong. We want to keep going for Week III. I think it’s a great place. My mom, [Jennifer Gamboa] has been working in the show office here for a while, so it’s great to be in Texas and to see her.”
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