Temecula, Calif. – May 30, 2018 – Week III of Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National Horse Show equestrian competition returned Wednesday to Galway Downs, with the final week of the circuit commencing on a high note for Will Simpson aboard Attention ET Z and Whoop De Doo as he captured the lion’s share of the purse with a champion and third place finish in the $5,000 Moon Valley Nursery 1.35m Welcome Stake. Across the showgrounds in the manicured Grand Hunter Arena, Nick Haness piloted Kumano to the top of the scorecard twice in the Green 3’6” Hunters to take the early lead, and Shauna Pennell similarly guided Saturday Night to the day one division lead in the Performance 3’3” Hunters.
No stranger to the winner’s circle, Olympic gold medalist Simpson faced a talented field of horses and athletes in the $5,000 Moon Valley Nursery 1.35m Welcome Stake, but brought two contenders of his own in the form of Callie Smith’s Attention ET Z and Coxe Horses, LLC’s Whoop De Doo. Operating under an immediate jump-off format, the class was initially led by Hugh Mutch and his own Cristar, the fourth pair to qualify for the jump-off and the first to go double clear in a time of 40.791 seconds. Only a handful of trips later, Simpson and his first mount, the grey Attention ET Z, turned in the second double clear of the afternoon to barely nab the lead in 40.600 seconds with little less than half the pack still to take their turns around designer Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) 13-fence track.
Unlike the first half of the class, the latter exhibitors proved to be up to the challenges of Petersen, Jr.’s course, with eight of ten pairs following Simpson and Attention ET Z’s ride leaving all the fences intact within the time allowed. Though none were able to surpass the leading combination, Natasha Traurig and Poden Farms’ Ereina came the closest to making the time with a brisk trip in 41.066 seconds but clipped a pair of rails to keep them out of contention. The last to go with his second ride, Simpson could do no worse than first place, but still pulled out all the stops to earn the third-place finish with Whoop De Doo, crossing the timers in a clean 42.767 seconds to capture the yellow ribbon as the seventh double clear of the class and the fifteenth duo to take a turn over the short course. Mutch and Cristar retained their reserve position, finishing just less than one-quarter of a second behind the champions.
The grass Grand Hunter Arena kicked off in the morning with Haness and Kumano, owned by West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, riding to an early lead in the Green 3’6” Hunters during the first day of competition. The pair demonstrated their dominance in the division by sweeping blue ribbons in one of the over fences and the under saddle phase and placing second in another over fences class. Haness and the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding claimed the Green 3’6” Hunter championship title during the first week of competition in April and are aiming to add another tricolor ribbon to their list of accolades when riding concludes Thursday.
Pennell had successful rounds aboard Beverly Engelberg’s Saturday Night, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, during the first day of the Performance 3’3” Hunter division. They topped the leaderboard in both over fences classes and placed second in the hack to claim the early lead.
A destination horse show for more than its action in the ring, the Temecula Valley National Horse Show concluded the opening day of the third week with a festive “Circus! Circus!” Welcome Party, sponsored by Dechra Veterinary Products, in the nearby Carriage House. Following the last class of the afternoon, athletes, families and spectators all enjoyed the oyster bar, delicious dinner cuisine and incredible entertainment, in addition to a special surprise for two of California’s most beloved equestrians, Hap Hansen and Susan Hutchison. Hansen and Hutchison were awarded personalized plaques to commemorate their positions in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame to the sound of much applause.
The Temecula Valley National Horse Show will continue Thursday for the second day of competition, with the $20,000 Equifit 1.40 – 1.45m Speed Classic serving as the spotlight class in the Audi Grand Prix Arena. Hunter riders will conclude the first group of divisions to determine the week’s first champions.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Will Simpson -$5,000 Moon Valley Nursery 1.35m Welcome Stake champion
On his two mounts, Attention ET Z and Whoop De Doo:
“Attention is a new horse for me. I had a good go last week, winning the 1.30m, and I tried the 1.35m and they had a bounce. I think that threw me and the horse off a bit. We made a tight turn back to a jump and the horse never even recognized it as a jump and went around it. Today though he was spot on. To me, it felt like a new definition of fun. He is allergic to wood, thinking about the next jump and jumping way over the jumps. I’m really excited about that horse and where he’s going. Whoop De Doo is a young horse that I’ve had for a couple of seasons. At seven years of age, we are just sneaking up into these grand prix classes and she’s as brave and consistent as can be and very nice. We are working on the speed a little bit. She really uses her body.”
On the course:
“I thought the track was fabulous. Getting started on the first day of the week I thought the jumps were really nicely placed and tactful. Nothing extremely risky but a nice track. You are always guaranteed a good track with Olaf [Petersen, Jr.].”
On competing at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show:
“I’m a southern California guy and we have been waiting for years. We had some great shows here, we have great horsemen here and the great weather. Ali [Nilforushan] was talking about this show for a long time and I said, ‘I just have to be on the ground floor getting this thing off.’ We are jumping on world-class footing and the venue is top-notch. It’s really horse country with the racetrack and watching the Thoroughbreds working in the morning. It’s an atmosphere of horsemanship here. This show is going to take off. The seating for the fans — everything is incredible here. I felt it was the right thing to do to support this and I’m certainly glad I did. It’s been a pleasure to be here and I can’t wait for next year!”
Nick Haness – Green 3’6″ Hunter leader
“I really appreciate that he is a dependable horse. He is always the same every day and very easy-going. This was his first time in this venue’s grass ring, and he was perfect. It makes for an easy ride. It feels like you are riding on the East Coast here — it seems very similar to Upperville, Virginia. The scenery is really beautiful and the trees create a nice atmosphere.”
On competing at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show:
“I have been here all three weeks. I live in Temecula and it’s really exciting that we have a new horse show here that we can participate in. All of the horses that I have brought here have been really good and the management has been super. We are really enjoying our time here.”
$5,000 Moon Valley Nursery 1.35m Welcome Stake
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. William Simpson / Attention Et Z / Callie Smith / 0 / 0 / 40.600
2. Hugh Mutch / Cristar / Hugh Mutch / 0 / 0 / 40.791
3. William Simpson / Whoop De Doo / Coxe Horses, LLC / 0 / 0 / 42.767
4. Mandy Porter / WT Leapfrog / Wild Turkey Farm, LLC / 0 / 0 / 43.350
5. Julia Nagler / Killosery Kuidam / Julia Nagler / 0 / 0 / 43.718
6. Lindsay Archer / Jamaica / Rhys Farms / 0 / 0 / 44.197
7. Janet Hischer / Livia Z / Sharon Granberg / 0 / 0 / 45.395
8. Jenny Williams / Everclear / Jenny Williams / 0 / 4 / 41.141