Will Simpson and Chacco P. PC: McCool Photos
September 24, 2017 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – Out of the 50 entries that took to the Oaks International Grand Prix Field in two concurrently run classes, the $30,000 1.40m Markel Insurance Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by ACE Equestrian, and the the $5,000 Interactive Mortgage U25 Series Qualifier, ten were clear in the first round and five finished double clean.
Will Simpson and his new mount Chacco P clinched the Markel Insurance Grand Prix win in an exciting jump-off that left the audience on the edge of their seats. Cristobal Collado took home the blue ribbon in the Interactive Mortgage U25 class, while earning fourth place in the Markel Insurance Grand Prix.
In the rigorous track designed by FEI course designer Leopoldo Palacios from Venezuela, the first two entries were clear. After more than half the class had tried, only six more managed to ride fault free. Time faults were plentiful, as were difficulties with the triple combination at the top of the ring and the double combination in the last line coming away from the gate. Nearing the end of the order, Nicki Wilcox and Ashlee Bond, were the last clear bringing the jump-off group to ten.
With a quick group of riders vying for the win in the jump-off, third to go was Simpson, who was the first to jump clear. Try as they might, the next seven riders could not catch his time of 30.016. Second place finisher Tina Yates aboard Ceasar came close stopping the clock in 30.183, just .167 of a second behind the leader. Ashlee Bond also put pedal to metal. She and Ace of Hearts crossed the finish line at 31.039 for third.
Tina Yates and Ceasar. PC: McCool Photos
Simpson was ecstatic to win on one of the newest additions to his string. This was his fifth class on this mount, going clear in each class and winning two of them. He complimented Chacco P for his bravery, “Even the walls won’t back him up: that horse, he’s a lion.” The course required a forward step but nothing the 2008 Olympic Gold medalist couldn’t handle.
“The course was nice,” he noted. “There were some technical lines, mostly forward and not very trappy. It was very suited to my horse.”
His winning speed came from a specific strategy for the jump-off. “I did the six strides to the wall, which almost everybody did. The horse has fast feet, even though he’s a big horse, he really moves fast and keeps moving forward no matter what he’s doing. I made a nice turn back to the oxer after the wall and I was a little wide, so I hustled down and did not take back to the planks. He’s so careful I could take a real shot at the planks. Then I scissored into the combination on a right-to-left angle and came out going straight. That gave me a little more room inside the combination and made the five stride easy to the last,” Simpson explained. “And the horse, he just thinks like a winner.”
Along with the prize money, Simpson received a pair of Roeckl Sports gloves, an embroidered SmartPak cooler, and an engraved pewter plate. In addition, he took home the SmartPak Fastest Jumper In the West honors, earning a $500 shopping spree at SmartPak for being part of the horse and rider combination with the fastest round.
Will Simpson and Chacco P with Matthew and Shannon Cotton, Melissa Brandes, Robert Ridland, and Josh Mullins
Cristobal Collado Tops the Interactive Mortgage U25 Qualifier
Out of the 12 entries that tried to tackle the U25 Interactive Mortgage Finals Qualifier, Shota Ogomori aboard SIG Iron Man and Cristobal Collado on E2 Stables’ Diamond both rode clean. When Collado emerged the only double clean, he took the win.
Cristobal Collado and Diamond. PC: McCool Photos
Moving up the ranks, the 19-year-old wants to further his U25 track, seeking to compete in the division next winter in Wellington, FL.
Collado rode with extreme precision. “I walked the course and it seemed like it might be pretty difficult,” he explained. “But the first two to go were clear, so by then I thought I really had a chance. My horse jumped amazing, he really did his job well and I’m happy about the results.”
A prior horse of his father Enrique Gonzalez, Collado took over the reins on the nine-year-old Diamond, about a year ago. “He’s not a difficult horse but has a lot of blood so you have to get used to it and get to know him. I think we click now so I’m looking forward to the future.”
As the International Jumping Festival wraps up the Blenheim EquiSports outdoor season, this was the last chance for riders to qualify for the Markel Insurance Grand Prix Finals. The HITS Sunshine Series offers the final the Interactive Mortgage U25 Developing Rider Qualifiers. The Finals for both Series are at The Las Vegas National on the evenings of November 15th and 17th, respectively. The competition will certainly be fierce come November.