Sophie Simpson-Leckie Gallops to the Winner’s Circle in $10,000 Welcome Stake at Temecula Valley National

Temecula, California – October 13, 2021 – Show jumping returned to Galway Downs for Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National Fall Week I, presented by Interactive Mortgage. Competition kicked off in the Grand Prix Arena Wednesday afternoon, October 13, with the $10,000 1.35m Welcome Stake, sponsored by Train With Shelby. Thirty-one horse-and-rider pairs battled it out in hopes of taking home the top prize of the day. Ultimately Sophie Simpson-Leckie (USA) and A Picasso De Vie bested the field to take home the lion’s share of the $10,000 prize.

Set in the USEF Table II 2b format, competitors took to the ring hoping to go clear around Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) 14-effort first round and secure their chances at an immediate jump-off. The winding track utilized the expansive Grand Prix Arena, featuring a series of 1.35m fences, including multiple combinations which proved tricky to many. Out of the 31 competitors, 12 advanced to the shortened track in hopes of claiming the first big win of the two-week series.

Eric Navet (FRA) and his well-known speed demon Coronado Blue NF, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Signe Ostby, were the first to go clear in the first round, advancing to the jump-off. Leaving no room for chance, Navet (FRA) and Coronado Blue NF were keen on showcasing their natural footspeed. The pair cleared the track in a blistering time of 38.279, setting the pace for the rest of the pack.

Sophie Simpson-Leckie (USA) & A Picasso De Vie

Following a string of failed attempts to top Navet’s leading time, Sophie Simpson-Leckie (USA) and her long-time mount, A Picasso De Vie, were set on challenging his time. Having previously won the $5,000 1.35m Welcome Stake in June at the Temecula Valley National III, Simpson-Leckie and the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Will Simpson Stables Inc., returned to Galway Downs eager to prove their speed and accuracy once more. Having just come off of a win at the Split Rock Jumping Tour in the Restylane 1.35m National Prix, Simpson-Leckie and A Picasso De Vie raced around the X-obstacle jump-off with a gutsy gallop to the final fence, tripping the timers at an astonishing time of 37.355 seconds. Simpson-Leckie took over the first-place position, besting Navet’s time by nearly a full second.

Jamie Taylor (USA) & Cocoliche Of Greenhill Z

As the class neared the bottom of the order, Simpson-Leckie still held onto the lead with her uncatchable ride. Desperate to unseat the leader, Jamie Taylor (USA) and Cocoliche of Greenhill Z, an 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Spyglass Hill, entered the Grand Prix Arena as the final horse-and-rider pair in the class. The duo hinged their success on sheer speed as they blazed around the course, flying over oxers and riding rollbacks with ease. Galloping to the finish, the duo clocked in a time of 38.948, settling them into a third place finish.

Jumper competition at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National Fall Week I will continue Thursday, October 14, in the Grand Prix Arena for the Low, Medium, and High Junior/Amateur/Amateur-Owner classes before the feature class of the evening, the $20,000 1.40m Speed Classic. 

Sophie Simpson-Leckie (USA) & A Picasso De Vie

From The Winner’s Circle

Sophie Simpson-Leckie – $10,000 1.35m Welcome winner

On A Picasso De Vie:

“I’ve had him for four years, almost five years now. I got him at the end of his six-year-old year and he’s 11 now. My dad, [Will Simpson], owns him so I got Picasso from him. He sent him to me when I first moved to California. I told my dad, ‘If you send him, you’re not getting him back because I love him.’ I’m thrilled and thankful to my father for giving him to me. It’s been a really great partnership that we have. Coming off a win at Spilt Rock, he hasn’t done a ton since then so I think he’s fresh and ready. He felt really great tonight.”

On the course:

“I thought it was a really nice course. Normally I start this horse in 1.30m so starting him right away in the 1.35m, I would only do if it was built beautifully. There were some nice lines and I loved the first few just being off your eye and just kind of loose. I believe that that is just perfect for this horse particularly.”

On Nilforushan Equisport Events:

“It’s our favorite horse show and we love it so much. Ali [Nilforushan] and all of his team do an amazing job. The footing is always amazing and the atmosphere is unreal. The horses always thrive here and we are very thrilled that this is an hour and a half from us and basically in our backyard. We are just always thankful to be here.”

On future plans:

“We’re going to give the 1.40m Speed Classic a shot tomorrow so he’s got to rest up tonight and re-energize. Hopefully, we can do some good there and we’ll potentially do the 1.35m on Saturday.”

Sophie Simpson-Leckie (USA) & A Picasso De Vie during the awards ceremony

Final Results – $10,000 Welcome Stake

1) Sophie Simpson-Leckie (USA) & A Picasso De Vie – 0 / 0 -| 37.355

2) Eric Navet (FRA) & Coronado Blue NF – 0 / 0 – 38.279

3) Jamie Taylor (USA) & Cocoliche Of Greenhill Z – 0 / 0 – 38.948

4) Jamie Taylor (USA) & Quatar – 0 / 0 – 39.47

5) Cassio Rivetti (BRA) & Edesa’s Captain-Fly – 0 / 0 – 41.028

6) Bjorn Ikast (DEN) & Chicharito LS – 0 / 0 – 42.872

7) Jamie Taylor (USA) & Chaman Semilly – 1 / 0 – 44.123

8) Alexandra Biederman (USA) & Interactive Mortgage Cayjano – 0 / 2 – 46.059

9) Mandy Porter (USA) & Triskel De Kerliven – 0 / 4 – 40.183

10) Alexandra Biederman (USA) & Interactive Mortgage 07 – 2 / 4 – 44.459

11) Emily Esau Williams (USA) & Gezan Van Beek – 0 / 8 – 42.177

12) Bjorn Ikast (DEN) & Classini – 0 / 80.968 – RT

Source: Press Release from by Cassidy Klein / Phelps Media Group for Nilforushan Equisport 

Photo: © Olivia Airhart