Sunday, Apr. 14, 2024

Simpson And Fellers Finish With A Flourish At L.A. National

The lure of two World Cup-qualifying classes draws them to Los Angeles.

World Cup points were the name of the game at the Los Angeles National, Nov. 14-18 in Los Angeles, Calif.
   
The show hosted two $50,000 World Cup-qualifying grand prix events. The Los Angeles National is always an important show for West Coast riders, but with the addition of another grand prix class, it was doubly so.
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The lure of two World Cup-qualifying classes draws them to Los Angeles.

World Cup points were the name of the game at the Los Angeles National, Nov. 14-18 in Los Angeles, Calif.
   
The show hosted two $50,000 World Cup-qualifying grand prix events. The Los Angeles National is always an important show for West Coast riders, but with the addition of another grand prix class, it was doubly so.

In September, the Los Angeles International had to be cancelled midway through the five-day show due to torrential rains and a power outage on Friday night that left the Los Angeles Equestrian Center dark until Monday. The outdoor rings were too wet to ride in and the covered Equidome could not be utilized because there were no lights, so the $50,000 L.A. International Grand Prix, a World Cup-qualifier, never happened.

After some deliberation, FEI officials asked show chairman Larry Langer if he would host the $50,000 L.A. International Grand Prix at the Los Angeles National, which had its own World Cup-qualifying grand prix.

This meant that grand prix riders were jumping for a total of $100,000 in a week, and they came by the droves. “The L.A. National became a really important week,” said Will Simpson, who won the Thursday night $50,000 L.A. International Grand Prix CSI-W. Two days later, on Sunday, Rich Fellers added to his World Cup point total by winning the $50,000 L.A. National Grand Prix CSI-W aboard Flexible.

Jack Robson set a big track for the riders for the L.A. International, and Simpson mastered it with aplomb on El Campeon’s new mount, Carlsson Vom Dach, purchased in March of this year. “He was being ridden by an amateur and was just starting some grand prix classes in Europe,” said Simpson. “He is a really, really brave horse, scopey and fast.”

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Although it took some time for the pair to get used to one another, Simpson now understands his new horse much better.

“He is a red-line ride, kind of like a Ferrari,” he said.

Simpson liked the challenge of two major classes in a week.

“We had a real championship week and we don’t have much of that in the United States, but this is what the Europeans do week after week. They have to be on form,” he commented. “Usually we have some kind of warm-up class like a speed class or 1.45-meter, then a Saturday or Sunday grand prix. At best it is a dress rehearsal, but to have big money twice in one week means we have to be ‘on’. I came out swinging on Thursday and got the job done, but on Saturday I had two rails. My horse jumped well, but I have to learn how to maintain at the very top level. I feel like I learned volumes.”

Simpson’s 8 faults in the L.A. National CSI-W put him 11th on Saturday, and Fellers got his chance to enjoy the spotlight. Fellers hadn’t originally intended to attend the L.A. National show, but when the L.A. International class was rescheduled, Fellers knew he couldn’t afford to skip two $50,000 classes in one week.

Flexible and Fellers placed 15th in the L.A. International CSI-W with a four-fault first round.
Last year Fellers won the class on Harry and Mollie Chapman’s McGuiness. This year Fellers had a new ride on the chestnut gelding Flexible.

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“He’s had some really tough injuries, and we’ve even had the vets tell us he wouldn’t be able to jump,” said Fellers of Flexible’s inexperience in the grand prix ring. Patience, care, and a little luck saw Flexible, an 11-year-old stallion, easily jump clean over Anthony D’Ambrosio’s track.

“I was really in the cat bird’s seat for the jump off,” said Fellers, who jumped fifth of the five riders. Spooner blazed around the course on both Cristallo and Ace, but 8 faults on each horse kept him out of the winner’s circle.

Jill Humphrey rode Lou Bega cautiously, and although they left all the rails up, 2 time faults kept the door open. Chris Pratt tried to match Humphrey’s care, but Airtime had two rails. Fellers faced the same task and he met it, as Flexible jumped clean and fast enough to stay under the time allowed.

“He’s a great horse and I am really happy for Harry and Mollie,” said Fellers after his win. “They are great owners.”

The win put Fellers ninth in the West Coast League World Cup standings. Simpson’s win—added to his win on El Campeon Tosca in the $50,000 Antares Grand Prix CSI-W at Del Mar (Calif.) in September—puts him third in the standings, behind Keri Potter and Mandy Porter.

The Los Angeles National wraps up the major show jumping circuit on the West Coast for the year, and riders plan to give their horses some time off before gearing up for the 2008 show season and the remainder of the World Cup-qualifying events. With only two slots available to West Coast riders for the 2008 FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden, in April, the competition is fierce.

Marnye Langer

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