Edited Press Release
Wayne, Ill. – July 15, 2022 – On Friday morning, Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy took center stage in the HITS Chicago winner’s circle after earning the top spot in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix at Lamplight Summertime II. With four horses and riders moving onto the jump-off, Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy were the only pair able to master both tracks to capture the leading title.
The first-round track, designed by Thomas Hern Jr., was a 12-obstacle course with three double combinations resulting in 15 efforts. With four lines scattered throughout the track and half connected to combinations, Hern Jr. forced riders to overlook the simplicity of the flowing course. Identifying the horse’s stride and adjusting it throughout the track was the key for the four riders who advanced to the jump-off.
Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy were the first pair to try their hand over the short course, and Gamboa knew he needed to set the pace. After completing a crafty turn from one to two, as well as remaining careful and tidy, Gamboa was able to apply the pressure he wanted for the other three contenders with a time of 36.249 seconds. “I thought I might as well take a risk and make people chase me, and it ended up working out today,” explained Gamboa.
Linda Radigan and Balveneur Z were the first duo to challenge Gamboa’s time, but opted to skip the inside turn from one to two. With an unfortunate rail at the out of the combination, the pair ended up in third place with a time of 40.892 seconds. Katie Leverick and Hardy were the closest to catching the winning time but a heartbreak rail at the last fence landed them in second place with a time of 40.642 seconds. Kyle Perkovich and Hit Me Van’t Zorgvliet rounded out the top four.
Gamboa began riding NKH Mr. Darcy in March, and their short partnership has quickly proven to be a successful one. “I’m so thankful to NKH LLC and Christian Heineking that I got to take him over – we just really clicked,” expressed Gamboa.
A new competitor at Lamplight Equestrian Center, Gamboa has been enjoying his time at HITS Chicago and will be staying for the remainder of the season, noting, “This is my first year here at Lamplight, and it’s a great setup for our next couple shows!”