Katy, TX – Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy put a final exclamation point on their phenomenal three weeks at the 2023 Pin Oak Charity Horse with victory in the finale $100,000 Third Coast Bank Grand Prix, held on Saturday, April 15 in Katy, TX.
Having already won two grand prix classes during Week II at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy were fan favorites going into Saturday night, but with a field of 23 top contenders, it was still anybody’s game.
Fresh from designing the courses for the 2023 FEI World CupTM Final in Omaha, NE, Bernardo Costa Cabral set a track in the Porter Hedges Main Arena that saw eight entries go clear. When Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy entered the ring as the second pair to return for the jump-off, the time to beat had been set at 35.984 seconds by Australia’s Rowan Willis aboard Wellington Grey Goose.
As Gamboa flew across the final Third Coast Bank oxer in 34.902 seconds, the crowd erupted into cheers, and that clear-round time would ultimately prove good enough for the win. Willis and Wellington Grey Goose took second place while Jacqueline Ruyle and Cyramo Z finished in third with four faults in a time of 33.892 seconds after a heartbreaking rail at the final fence.
“It’s been a great way to wrap it up!” said Gamboa of his win. “[NKH Mr. Darcy] just tried and tried and tried his heart out. He knows the drill when he walks in there. He feels the audience, and he knows he has to leave the jumps up. He takes care of the speed himself.”
Gamboa has been partnered with the 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion, owned by Neil Knox of NKH LLC, for roughly a year; the pair’s string of successes kicked off last year with Gamboa’s first-ever grand prix win at the 2022 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.
“Honestly, he was brought along for a long time by the previous rider, and they just did a fantastic job with him,” said Gamboa, who rides for October Hill Farm and Heineking Show Stables. “When I get on that horse, he just knows what to do, where to go. He knows where his feet are, and he knows where his mind should be. He knows when it’s game time.”
In addition to the top honors in Saturday’s class, for which Gamboa was presented the Uncle Sam Trophy, he also earned the Antarès Leading Grand Prix Rider Award. As the rider with the most points earned over all five grand prix classes held during the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, Gamboa received a $1,000 bonus check and a new Antarès saddle. Knox of NKH LLC was also recognized with the Clayton Stone Trophy as the high-point grand prix owner.
Gamboa concluded, “Thank you again to everybody, the whole team and staff. Everybody that’s at the gate when I walk out and at the gate when I walk in, especially the Heineking family and Neil Knox. I cannot do it without their support, so thank you.”