Chasing the Sun in Vilamoura, Portugal with David Simpson for #TeamTredstep


Hello and welcome to “Chasing the Sun” – a weekly blog in partnership with Tredstep. I’m currently in sunny Portugal at the Vilamoura Champions Tour with the DLS Team. We’re heading into week 3 and it’s already been a successful show for us. I have a really exciting team of horses here and I can’t wait to share some behind the scenes insights with you.

As we’re based in West Sussex, it takes us three days to drive down to Portugal, but it’s worth the effort when you can spend six weeks showjumping in the sun. The horses travelled and settled in well. It’s great for them to have the sun on their backs for a while longer. I just have three horses competing here, which is a much lighter workload compared to the busy days at home.

Foudre F is my top horse and together we’ve been competitive up to the 5* level. He’s a 10-year-old dark bay gelding by Namelus R out of a Cavalier mare. So far, he has had a brilliant show here, he was 10th in the 3* Grand Prix and also in the money in the 3* 1.40 and 1.45 classes in the first few weeks. He’s really proven himself again this week, going fast and clear in a 4* 1.50 two-phase and then putting on a really exciting performance in the 1.55 Grand Prix on Sunday for a 2nd place finish. I couldn’t be happier with him.

Kurly V/D Gorten (pictured) is another 10-year-old, and this grey gelding is a strong contender in the 3* 1.40 classes. In his first class in Vilamoura he came 14th and is becoming more and more consistent at the higher levels.

Caluna Z is a very new ride for me – Vilamoura is actually our first show together! Although we were just getting to know each other in the first week, we were placed 7th and 6th in the 1.35 two-phase and the 1.30 Accumulator, respectively. We’re now moving up to jumping the bigger classes and hopefully our consistency and our competitive streak continues.

Although half way through our tour, I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks with the team. I’ll keep you all updated along the way and hopefully give you an interesting inside look at life on the tour.


Week Four at the Vilamoura Champions Tour brought a week off for our team of horses, after three weeks jumping in the warm weather, they well and truly deserve it. We always have the fact that they are living breathing athletes in their own right at the front of our minds and our primary focus is looking after their physical and mental wellbeing. This has been particularly important for Foudre, my top horse, who put in a show stopping performance for 2nd place in the Grand Prix during 4* week. His time off will also prepare him for an extra week out here, with the announcement that he and I have been selected to represent Ireland in the Nations’s Cup competition from November 16th. I feel like Foudre really deserves the recognition, so I’m super pleased for him and looking forward to seeing his good form continue into that all important week.

In the down time, Joe our key groom keeps all the horses healthy, happy and busy. We don’t want them just standing in their stables 24/7. We are really lucky that the showground backs on to a nature reserve, so we are able to hack around it’s paths. Other than the 3 main competition rings, there are 5 other surfaced arenas and two lunge pens here. We can set up bounces, grids and pole work exercises to keep the horses ticking along and interested without high impact jumping. Lunging and hand walking is also a key part of their week off regime and while grazing is limited here, they can often find a good pick of grass when they are out for a stroll.

We are back to jumping this week, so I will look forward to bringing you a full competition update after the weekend.


We are back in competition out here in Vilamoura and while most showjumpers are drawn to these tours because they allow a sort of “summer extension”, the weather has been a bit wild this week. We had some serious rain last week that actually saw a few classes cancelled and the scheduling of the Grand Prix to an earlier time, to avoid incoming thunderstorms. Portugal gets real “light show” type storms and once there’s lightning, it’s deemed too dangerous to have everyone out jumping. And when the rain comes down here, it really comes down. The visibility changes and the going becomes a bit uncomfortable for the horses. However, a little bit of sun is never far away and that dries it quickly.

I must say I have been incredibly grateful for my Tredstep gear – it’s been through every sort of weather condition out here – hot, sunny, windy, wet, humid, dusty, you name it – and really stood up to it.

This week I had a great 3rd place finish with Caluna Z (pictured) in the 1.30. I am super impressed with this horse and really pleased with our consistency. While a lot of riders and horses will start to make the journey home now, I am delighted to be staying on for the coming week’s Nations Cup competition. It is always a tremendous honour to represent Ireland and we have a terrific squad, so I am looking forward to a successful campaign and bringing you all the highlights here next week.

Cheers for now,


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