The Dixon Oval welcomed its first international show jumping competition at the 2019 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair on Tuesday evening with the $50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake CSI4*, sponsored 5R Farms LLC – Helen Rich. After making their Devon debut in 2018 with multiple top placings, the United States’ Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Silver Raven Farms’ Akuna Mattata returned to Devon, Pennsylvania, all the way from California, to take home their first win together and the Sylvester L. Quigley Memorial Challenge Trophy at the iconic venue, besting 25 other horses and athletes.
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata (Photo: The Book LLC)
Seven combinations returned to compete over Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge’s shortened track. Of the seven, only two were able to produce double-clear efforts.
The early double-clear pathfinder was 25-year-old Catherine Tyree (USA) and Mary Tyree’s Bokai as second in the jump-off order-of-go. They pair successfully completed all of the obstacles and stopped the clock in 38.16 seconds to move to the top spot on the leaderboard.
Shahinian-Simpson has a history at the Devon Horse Show: “I’ve always loved it here. It’s just a great atmosphere and a great ring to ride in. My first year here was in 1985 and I have been Best Child Rider here on ponies and horses. Last year was [Akuna Mattata’s] first year here and it was her first big season on the international circuit. She got a ribbon in every class so it was fun to come back. She thrives on the energy here.”
That energy helped Shahinian-Simpson as she expertly navigated the short course with ease and crossed the finish line just one second faster in 37.74 seconds, ultimately securing the win as the remaining two competitors incurred faults. As a result, Tyree settled for second place, while Lillie Keenan (USA) and Chansonette Farm LLC’s Fasther rounded out the top three as the fastest of the 4-faulters in 36.34 seconds.
“She’s very animated,” said Shahinian-Simpson of her mount. “She’s not a kicker or anything luckily, but she is difficult to contain. She was eager to compete tonight. She loves to go fast. Even in the first round with the time being tight, I thought, ‘Just ride it like a speed class.’ That’s sort of her gear. I’ve started using her stride to do the leave-outs and it’s all just sort of come together. She responds great and her rideability doesn’t change.”
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata. Photo by Phelps Sports
In 2018, the pair finished fourth in the $50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake CSI4* and later claimed runner-up honors in the $70,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake CSI4*. This year, they are already off to a strong start in the popular Open Jumper division and look to continue their streak throughout the rest of the week.
Shahinian-Simpson has formed a strong partnership with Akuna Mattata since the mare was famously born as a triplet via embryo transfer in 2008 out of SRF Dragonfly. Fondly known as “Nahla” in the barn, she quickly realized the mare’s potential bringing her up through the ranks and now the pair are competing at the CSI5* level and representing the USA on Nations Cup teams, including during the CSIO5* Coapexpan in Mexico earlier this month, where the NetJets® U.S. Show Jumping Team took home the silver medal.
$50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake CSI4*, sponsored 5R Farms LLC – Helen Rich:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Akuna Mattata / Nicole Shahinian-Simpson / Silver Raven Farms / 0 / 0 / 37.74
2. Bokai / Catherine Tyree / Mary Tyree / 0 / 0 / 38.16
3. Fasther / Lillie Keenan / Chansonette Farm LLC / 0 / 4 / 36.34
4. Chippendale’s Boy DZ / Sloane Coles / The Springledge Group / 0 / 4 / 37.79
5. Azilis Du Mesnil / Sydney Shulman / Jill Shulman / 0 / 8 / 41.74
6. Breitling LS / Beezie Madden / Abigail Wexner / 0 / 8 / 43.60
7. Dsarie / Beat Mandli / Grant Road Partner Gmbh / 0 / 10 / 50.39
8. Pembroke / Adrinne Sternlicht / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / 1 / 70.23
9. Quality FZ / Rodrigo Pessoa / Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC / 1 / 70.39
10. Casall / Ali Wolff / Blacklick Bend Farm / 4 / 66.42
11. Chandon Blue / Laura Chapot / mary Chapot / 4 / 66.97
12. Chanes STE Hermelle / Michael Morrissey / 4 / 69.61