Mavis Spencer and Disco Lady Top the Interactive Mortgage U25

September 1, 2016 – Del Mar, CA – Today’s $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix in Del Mar was truly tremendous sport. Some superb horse and rider pairs came to compete, 52 in total, with veteran pair Will Simpson and The Dude (Nicole Walker, owner) taking the win in a 14 horse jump-off.

California native Mavis Spencer rode Disco Lady (owned by Neil Jones Equestrian) to the win in the Interactive Mortgage U25 qualifier. Having lived and worked in Europe for several years and on the East Coast for a few years as well, Spencer hasn’t competed in California since 2008.

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Mavis Spencer and Disco Lady, owned by Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc.

The 1.40 class is often popular as a way to move up young grand prix horses, as a chance for U25 riders to compete with veteran show jumpers, and also as a warm-up for many of those competing in the weekend Grand Prix. With a large group of entries varying in experience, the track needs to be both inviting and technical;A big challenge for the course designer.

FEI Course Designer Catsy Cruz (MEX) explained her strategy: “It offers a little bit of everything – I tried to use the material, to use the ring, and used specific questions to try to make it interesting and make it a challenging class.”

Asking horses to stretch in longer lines and also shorten, plus using a skinny vertical early in the course, a liverpool, combinations, planks as well as a tight time allowed, Cruz created a track that demanded a plan. “It’s all related, you have to ride with rhythm and in coordination with your horse. The speed as posted for the class is a much more ‘going forward’ speed. So if you don’t keep on the rhythm, then time is a factor, too. Hopefully we’ll have a good class with about ten or so clean.”

The first of the 14 horse and rider combinations to jump-off set quite a precedent: Mavis Spencer and her horse Cornetiero flew through the shortened course in a fault-free time of 40.71 that was not able to be caught by the following 11 horses. Spencer’s effort held the lead through four double-clear trips, including Nicole Haunert riding NJK No Regret, Laura Hite on Solos Consept, Christian Heineking aboard AJE Cluny, and Tina Yates on Highpoint Farm, LLC’s Bowmore VDL.

unnamed (2)Third place went to Tina Yates on Bowmore VDL, owned by Highpoint Farm, LLC

Thirteenth to jump off, Will Simpson strode into the ring on Nicole Walker’s The Dude. Simpson’s bold decisions, in conjunction with The Dude’s large stride and impressive scope, enabled him to perfect a hairpin turn back to fence 6B while still maintaining his prompt pace.

“He laid down a real tight turn [to fence 6B] and then jumped across the plank [7], and he was already headed towards the next jump. We really took a risk there but he was still a foot and half over the jump. So he was just incredible. He’s ten years old and really coming into his own,” Simpson said of The Dude.

Simpson’s eye was at work immediately after landing from fence 9 – he chose a big stride for a big distance into the combination. His confidence placed The Dude in a strong position for the oxer at the A element, but required some careful backing up at the B element. Like Simpson said, though, The Dude “came to play today in Del Mar.” The pair whizzed through the timers in unbeatable 38.92.

“He’s an unbelievable, capable horse that can do just about anything,” Simpson beamed.

The 2008 Team Gold Olympic Medalist continued. “This sport is so rewarding – even on a day like today – to have a horse that can go and lay down a trip like that. I’m on cloud nine right now. I’ve been doing this a long time and it is still as exciting as when I first started.”

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Will Simpson and The Dude, with Melissa Brandes of Blenheim EquiSports
and Brandon Seger of Markel Insurance

Simpson is staying on the West Coast this fall, planning to compete in the North American League World Cup Qualifiers. He and The Dude will return to the grand prix field on Saturday for the $50,000 Showpark All Seasons Grand Prix.

The Interactive Mortgage U25 Qualifier hosted eleven entries, with two riders going clean. Spencer rode the young and talented Disco Lady to the win. New to the grand prix level, the mare was third in her first grand prix a few weeks ago in Lexington. Also clean around the first track was Jamie Taylor on Jet Pets Equine’s Formax.

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Jaime Taylor and Formax, owned by Jet Pets Equine

Spencer and Disco Lady had two rails in the jump-off, but Sailor had an unfortunate dismount towards the end of the round.

Mavis works with Neil Jones Equestrian, which is based in Belgium, and together they decided to open up a location in North America. “I brought six horses out here with me, and we figured, we don’t really get the chance to jump on the grass where we are for the rest of the year, so it’s nice to come here with a different environment, and different footing. And obviously the horses really like it!”


Both the Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix and the Interactive Mortgage U25 Series have two more qualifiers at Blenheim fall shows in San Juan Capistrano. And each series will have its final at The Las Vegas National in November.

Stay tuned for more jumper highlights at the Showpark All Seasons Summer Tournament, including the $45,000 Young Jumper Championships (YJC) West Coast Finals, the $20,000 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity Finals, plus the $50,000 Showpark All Seasons Grand Prix.

$30,000 Markel Insurance 1.40M Grand Prix
Place – Entry Number – Horse – Rider – Owner – Faults/Time
1. 442 – The Dude – Will Simpson – Nicole Walker – 0/0/38.923
2. 210 – Cornetiero – Mavis Spencer – Mavis Spencer – 0/0/40.712
3. 435 – Bowmore VDL – Tina Yates – Highpoint Farm, LLC – 0/0/41.663
4. 294 – AJE Cluny – Christian Heineking – AJE Equitation, LLC – 0/0/41.968
5. 420 – NJK No Regret – Nicole Haunert – Njk Show Jumpers, Inc. – 0/0/44.562
6. 236 – Solos Consept – Laura Hite – Laura Hite – 0/0/47.154
7. 241 – Camerone – Lindsay Archer – Rhys Farms, LLC – 0/4/41.487
8. 190 – Cupilor – Michelle Parker Cross Creek Farms, Inc. – 0/4/41.981
9. 484 – Anton – Jaime Azcarraga – Jaime Azcarraga – 0/4/42.774
10. 106 – Apex – Harley Brown – Emma Reichow – 0/4/45.120
11. 458 – NKH Calango – Christian Heineking – NKH, LLC – 0/4/47.060
12. 181 – Disco Lady – Mavis Spencer – Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc. – 0/8/45.293

$2,500 Interactive Mortgage U25 Developing Rider Series Qualifier
Place – Entry Number – Horse – Rider – Owner – Faults/Time
1. 181 – Disco Lady – Mavis Spencer – Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc. – 0/8/45.293
2. 280 – Formax – Jaime Sailor – Jet Pets Equine – 0/EL
3. 460 – Butterfly Tibri Z – Lindsay Douglass – Lindsay Douglass – 3/72.127
4. 105 – Abadan – Sarah Baz – Sarah Baz – 8/65.992
5. 122 – Birhan – Julia Nagler – Julia Nagler – 8/67.831
6. 279 – Veneto DH Z – Jodie Camberg – Jodie Camberg – 8/68.270
7. 215 – Adamus – Leslie Wright – Pinnacle Equine Group – 8/68.349
8. 172 – Voila – Chenoa McElvain – Guy McElvain – 8/69.206