Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Simpson Navigates To A Win At L.A. National

Will Simpson showed his Olympic gold-medal mettle in front of an enthusiastic crowd packed in the Equidome at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center for the $50,000 Los Angeles National Grand Prix CSI-W.

Simpson rode a new ride, Archie Bunker, to the top check in the feature event of the Los Angeles National, Nov. 12-16 in Burbank, Calif.

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Will Simpson showed his Olympic gold-medal mettle in front of an enthusiastic crowd packed in the Equidome at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center for the $50,000 Los Angeles National Grand Prix CSI-W.

Simpson rode a new ride, Archie Bunker, to the top check in the feature event of the Los Angeles National, Nov. 12-16 in Burbank, Calif.

Simpson had the crowd on the edge of their seats—but not in a good way—in the first round. He jumped the first fence, then started to head to the wrong jump. “I had a real nice distance picked out [to the jump] and then I saw the number 8 at the bottom of the jump. At the very last second, I got back on it and jumped fence 2,” Simpson said. “I liked my own course better. I thought 1 to 8 worked better, but in the end I went with [Olaf Petersen Jr.’s] course.”

Archie Bunker’s scope and calm demeanor helped Simpson avoid not only a rail but also going off-course. “The time was tight and after almost jumping the wrong jump, I thought I was behind on the time, so I had to kick it into gear,” Simpson said. “I’ve always known Archie Bunker was careful, scopey, and rideable, but I didn’t know that he came with his own GPS.”

Petersen also commented on Simpson’s unique track at the start of the course. “Will scared me a little at the start of the course, but that is an incredible horse. This horse is at least as good as his Olympic horse and maybe better,” Petersen said.

Simpson took over the ride on Linda Irvine Smith’s Archie Bunker this summer while in Europe. “I’ve always liked this horse,” Simpson said. “I watched John [Pearce] develop him and he has all the scope. However, his biggest asset is that he is smart.”
 
Just four of the 34 starters jumped clean in Round 1. Rails dropped throughout the course, as the tight time allowed, combined with the height and width of the jumps, demanded a lot out of the competitors. At first it looked like 13 was the magic number when the first four horses in the class posted 13 faults each.

Then, 13th in the order, Harley Brown piloted Cassiato to a clear round. Simpson then ensured the crowd of a jump-off, and Rich Fellers went clear with McGuinness, assuring that the jump-off would be fast. Darrin Dlin and Catwalk evened out the score as the fourth pair to jump clear.

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Brown put in a careful, clear jump-off in 46.64 seconds on Cassiato to set the pace. “I knew that Rich [Fellers] would be a lot faster with McGuinness, so I realized I had to go for the time,” said Simpson. “I thought about doing an inside turn, but I didn’t know the horse well enough and those kinds of turns can be disastrous [if they don’t go well].”

Simpson chose the safer route but blazed around the course and stopped the clock in 43.20 seconds. Fellers followed, and as Simpson expected, he took the inside turn. However, jumping through the combination later in the course, McGuinness dropped the second element. With 4 faults and a time of 44.08 seconds, Fellers settled for fourth. Darrin Dlin and Catwalk were the only pair that could usurp Simpson’s lead—despite a good effort, they settled for second (44.97 seconds).

For Simpson, the win was gratifying. “I didn’t realize how much pressure there would be after the Olympics,” he said. Leading up to the Olympics, “it was a test of holding my breath for nine months. Then once I was on the team, there was so much pressure on different levels. I didn’t have much team experience, so George [Morris] had me ride anchor on two of the teams while we were in Europe. That really fast-tracked me and exposed me to different kinds of pressure.

“During the Games there was so much going on and I was in the homestretch. After the Games, I got home, got the kids started in school, and I was glad it was over and I could let down. Then my mom said, ‘No, no. Now you’ve got to back it up. You have to go to work.’ Moms have a way of putting things.”

Calloway Comes Back To Win

Sydney Calloway was among the top riders called back for Round 2 of the Onondarka Finals, but a mediocre second round dropped her down in the standings before Round 3. “In the first round, I was a little more aggressive than we planned, but it worked out really well,” she said. “In the second round, I lost a little of my focus. I think I got a little nervous too.”
But in the third round, she regained her composure and went into the work-off in second place, only 11⁄2 points behind the leader. A polished test put her on top.

“I can’t believe I won,” said Callaway. “This is all kind of like I am dreaming.”

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For Callaway, winning the Onondarka Finals was the culmination of a year of goals. She sat down with her trainers, Lori DeRosa and Erin Duffy, early in the year and identified her priorities. The Onondarka Finals were one of Callaway’s goals, along with being able to ride without stirrups for 20 minutes.

With practice Callaway is able to easily ride without stirrups, and over three rounds and a work-off she found herself checking the Onondarka Finals off her list.

Navona Gallegos put in a solid first round in the power-and-speed phase of the WCE Junior/Amateur Medal Finals. The second day requires riders to jump a Table II course, once again with a tight time allowed, and then the top 15 return to jump a jump-off style course.
In the third and final round, Gallegos, who also shows in the junior jumpers, really shone. She rode an accurate and stylish round following a tidy jump-off track. The judges rewarded her with the top score of the night, an 88, and the eventual win.

Hannah Selleck steadily put in better and better rounds, and her third round score of 84 moved her to second. Both riders train with Karen Healey. The surprise of the night was Tara Hill, a young amateur who does not have as much jumper experience as the first two girls. However, with nothing to lose, Hill posted a fabulous third round and finished third.

Tidbits

Will Simpson’s ride at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, Carlsson vom Dach, was sold following the Games to Double H Farm and is now being ridden by Darragh Kerins.

Mandy Porter won the $25,000 Welcome Stake aboard San Diego; they were first to go in the seven-horse jump-off and set a time no one could beat. She’s only been riding the horse since the beginning of September, when his owner, junior jumper rider Danielle Korsh, went to college. “He’s inexperienced at this level,” Porter said. “But he’s my only World Cup candidate.” Unfortunately, Porter’s mount for the 2007 FEI World Cup Finals (Nev.), Summer, is sidelined, so Porter is grateful to the Korsh family for giving her the ride on San Diego. She’s currently tied for second on the FEI West Coast League standings.

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