Could Nicole Sime Riley win the Cell C Derby?

She’s a wife, a mom, an instructor and business woman. She’s also in top form on the back of her win at the recent 2017 Revil Stables Reonet FEI World Cup Qualifier riding her horse Sunny Park Stables Elpaso. We caught up with Benoni resident Nicola Sime Riley who says that her horses are going well: feeling fit, fresh and keen.

Derby rides

Nicole Sime-Riley and Sunny Park Stables Elpaso

“I aim to have Sunny Park Stables Elpaso (El) as well as Fulvic Connoisseur (Con) in the main derby, then Reach for Gold in the 1.40m derby, and Insaghi in the 1.35m derby. In the last two weeks ahead of derby, I don’t work them too hard just keep them working normally as I would for any other show. Both horses are such triers: they give me their all. They both are a little fiesty at derby and I think they love it. Con is always keen but he is a little less of a risk taker so I need to ride him a little harder than El. Elpaso is just game for anything that I put in front of him. They both put their whole heart into what I ask from them. Their warm ups can differ, depending on their temperament on the day. The warm up arena isn’t too tense for me as I just love being in the ring and riding. Some days they are fresh and on derby day specifically they feel the vibe and tend to get a bit excited. El my squealer squeaks his way around the practice arena, and Con can get a bit cheeky and as I come around the corner to the jump he decides he’s going his way, which is shoulder bulging running off to the side… but thankfully we do eventually get over the warm up jumps!”

Derby day

When asked what jumps scare her, the mom of two says that balance is key. “To tell you the truth none of the jumps scare me, but the jump I try to give my horses the best ride to is the plank which comes two strides after the bank: I try not to override it and to stay in the best balance possible. Fitness is imperative too: I go to a biokineticist once a week and then train on my own as often as I can. Sometimes I battle to get there on the busy days. I don’t have any real eating plan, but I do have to watch the chocolate intake!”

“In terms of nerves I find that I am quite chilled on the day: it’s just so amazing what these animals do for us, so I try to enjoy every moment! The vibe of the show is awesome and I thoroughly enjoy myself! When it comes to a possible winner, like I say for every show: it’s the best horse and rider combination on the day… anyone can take it!”

Text: Caroline Malan of the PR Machine