Nicolas Gamboa Gets the Win in $100,000 Lone Star State Grand Prix
Nicolas Gamboa rode away with the top two spots in the $100,000 Lone Star State Grand Prix, sponsored by American National Insurance, on Saturday, February 25, in an exciting conclusion to grand prix competition at the 2023 Texas Winter Series in Katy, TX.
Gamboa clinched the win aboard NKH Mr. Darcy, owned by Neil Knox, and finished second riding Gin, owned by Ella Heineking.
Gamboa’s entries made up two out of six horses from the original 17-horse starting field that qualified to come back for the jump-off, designed by Michel Vaillancourt. As the second to return, Gamboa and Gin set the early clear time to beat at 40.042 seconds. That time would only be toppled when Gamboa returned two horses later aboard NKH Mr. Darcy and tripped the timers in 39.460 seconds.
Colleen Acosta and Lancome, owned by CAAcosta LLC, were the second-to-last to return, and while they looked like they could have the time, they ultimately finished just off Gamboa’s pace to take third with a time of 40.364 seconds.
Finishing in fourth place was Leah Curtiss riding Fortuna, owned by Kent Farrington LLC, and both fifth and sixth place went to Alwaleed Alrashid riding RSH Grand-Dessert and RSH Freedom, respectively.
In speaking of his win, Gamboa was quick to first acknowledge Gin and NKH Mr. Darcy.
“They’re super, super horses,” said Gamboa, who hails from a family of equestrians and rides representing Colombia. “Those horses, those people on the ground, the entire team – that’s what makes the difference.”
Gamboa began riding for Heineking Show Stables in 2021, and the 22-year-old earned his first grand prix victory less than a year ago at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, also aboard NKH Mr. Darcy. In the months since then, Gamboa has impressively notched more than half-a-dozen additional grand prix wins.
“That horse, [NKH Mr. Darcy], and Neil Knox, the owner, have changed my life,” said Gamboa. “I want to say one big thank you to the whole Heineking family and October Hill Farm and the whole team there; I can’t do it without them.
“Tonight, first I wanted to go clean. The first horse I had in the jump-off, Gin, he’s a fairly new mount,” said Gamboa of the 10-year-old gray Hanoverian gelding. “He jumped great in the first round; he felt really confident toward the end. I wanted to test him a little bit in the jump-off but also just give him a good round. With Darcy, I’ve known that horse a little while now. He had a bit of a break, so he’s a bit fresh, and he’s game for anything.”