Olympic gold medalist and grand prix veteran Will Simpson made it look easy on Sunday afternoon, May 9, in the $100,000 Riders Cup Grand Prix held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Laying down the fastest jump-off time by more than 2 seconds aboard Chacco P, he took the win and the largest share of the prize money.
“My plan was mostly just to hold on with that horse,” Simpson said of the 12-year-old Mecklenburg gelding (Chacco Blue—Cera P) owned by Will Simpson Stables Inc. “He wants to go. He’s just so brave and athletic, I just try to hang on and remember the course.”
The boutique jumper competition, put on by West Palms Events, saw 29 horse-and-rider combinations take on a course designed by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. Eight pairs went clear to return for the short course, an ideal number for Jorge.
“Eight is the number I normally look for in the jump-off,” he said. “Even if the class is 20 riders or 40 riders, eight makes for a good jump off and an exciting first round.”
Kyle King and Etalon were first to test the short course with a nice track but 4 faults. Second back in the ring was Simpson and Chacco P, whose tidy turns and quick ground speed no one was able to catch.
Jorge was impressed with Chacco P’s performance: “The horse is 18 hands with a lot of scope,” he said. “His turn to the double showed the tremendous scope the horse has. He was just very, very efficient on the turns and proved unbeatable.”
Chacco P and Simpson won the $40,000 1.50m Gold Tour Welcome Speed Stake at Blenheim Spring Classic II and the $75,000 1.50m Interactive Mortgage Ticket to Ride Grand Prix at Blenheim Spring Classic III, both held in California in April.
“It’s been a project with this horse,” Simpson said. “I’ve been working with him for three years, and now, all of the sudden, it feels like it’s coming together. I’ve heard it’s typical of the breed, with Chacco Blues, they peak later in life. We look for balance in a horse; we want them to be careful and brave and sound and rideable. Those are the four ingredients. Well, he’s 200% brave, and so he’ll go down to anything. It’s just a matter of getting him balanced, and counter-balanced, so he’s on his hocks and wants to be careful, so that’s what’s taken a while.”
At the post-show press conference, Simpson made a point to mention that he’s a new grandfather and was excited to wish his daughter Sophie Leckie a Happy Mother’s Day.
“It’s been a lot of fun to celebrate her today,” Simpson said.
Also finishing double-clear and landing in second place was Cassio Rivetti and Go Eldor, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Bridgeside Farms LLC. Matt Archer and Luigi VD Bisschop, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Rhys Farms LLC, rounded out the podium in third.
Watch their winning jump-off round: