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1971: 'V-sign' costs rider victory

VIDEO : Footage of Harvey Smith showing final jump hand sign

Controversial horse rider Harvey Smith has been stripped of his 2,000 winnings and a major show jumping title for allegedly making a rude gesture.

Mr Smith was seen to make a two-fingered 'V-sign' in the direction of the judges after winning the British Show Jumping Derby.

The rider has protested his innocence, claiming the judges mistook his gesture.

"It was a straightforward V for victory. Churchill used it throughout the war," Smith said.

Both signs are made using an upwards motion with the first two fingers extended.

However the victory sign is made with the palm outwards and the obscene gesture with palm inwards.

The judges said that HarveySmith was clearly seen to make the latter gesture towards them.

Clashes

Known as "Heathcliff on horseback" Harvey Smith is credited with bringing show jumping to a mass audience.

His rebellious attitude has made Smith - the son of a Yorkshire builder - the scourge of the genteel show jumping world but endeared him to the public.

Since taking up the event in the late 1950s he has frequently clashed with the sport's administrators and event judges.

Smith is said to have had heated words with one judge, Douglas Bunn, on the morning of the competition at Hickstead in West Sussex in southern England.

He arrived without the winner's trophy which he took home after his victory last year.

The rider said he had 'forgotten' it but critics claimed it was because he arrogantly assumed he would be taking it home again.

The trophy arrived from his home in Yorkshire, northern England, just in time for it to be presented to him once more.

In Context
Amid huge publicity and public backing for the rider, Harvey Smith's disqualification was reversed two days later.

However he was later to admit in interviews that he was making an obscene sign at the judges.

The infamous gesture won him an entry in the Chambers dictionary which defined 'a Harvey Smith' as 'a V-sign with the palm inwards, signifying derision and contempt'.

Harvey Smith competed for Britain in three Olympic games but never won a medal.

However, he won the British Jumping Derby a record seven times.

After retiring from show jumping Harvey Smith became a trainer.


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