The Incredible Career Of Harvey Smith
The 29th of December, 1938, saw the birth of one of the most successful and controversial British show jumpers of all time. Born into a working-class family in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Harvey Smith first found his love of riding thanks to the local milk pony. He never looked back.
Controversy was never far away from the career of Harvey Smith. In 1971, for instance, he was disciplined for giving a "V" for victory sign (although it appears the judges took it in an entirely different way). An appeal saw the disciplinary action overturned. Which meant the near perfect round that saw him win the British Show Jumping Derby, for the second consecutive year, remained unblemished.
To the Olympics!
Harvey Smith also competed in two Summer Olympics, although Gold eluded him on both occasions with his best finish being fourth in the individual show jumping event in Munich, 1972. Fast forward to the London 2012 Olympics and Harvey is still in the frame. This time, however, Smith was carrying the Olympic flame at York Racecourse!
When speaking about the invitation to carry the flame he said:
"Having ridden for Great Britain in the Olympic Games, it’s a great honour to be asked to carry the flame in my home county".
An Impressive Career
From his first championship win in 1956, at the age of 18, to his retirement in 1990, Harvey Smith won 5 silver medals in European Championships. He also won a bronze medal in the 1970 La Baule World Championship, represented Great Britain in two Olympic Games and won over 50 Grand Prix titles.
By anybody's standards, that kind of medal haul is pretty impressive for a 34-year career. A journalist asked Harvey "Do you miss it?", and despite his incredible haul of medals and titles, he replies with typical Yorkshire bluntness: "Would you miss ironing?".
If winning medals didn’t occupy enough of his time, Harvey also somehow found the time to take part in professional wrestling during the 1970's. He also commentated on show jumping events for the BBC at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. To add to his achievements, Smith was honoured in 1989 for being the first man to have jumped in 100 Volvo World Cup Qualifying Rounds.
Oh, and yes, you read that correctly - Harvey Smith was, for a short time in the 1970s, a professional wrestler. He appeared on the WoS (World of Sport) wrestling programme as Tally-Ho Kaye (otherwise known as Peter Kaye). Smith also once fought against the professional wrestler known as Bobby Bold Eagle.
As always, all good things must come to an end. Harvey Smith retired in 1990. He team up with his wife, Sue Smith, to create a racing team at Craiglands Farm. Both being former show jumpers, Harvey and Sue were destined to train a winner - and that’s exactly what they did.
One of their charges, Auroras Encore, won the 2013 Grand National in fine style. Sue Smith would recall it as being like a "fairy tale". It is certainly a fairy tale ending for an extraordinary career.