Thermal, California (March 14, 2015) – As equestrians prepare for Sunday's AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Thermal, Olympic Gold Medalist Will Simpson claimed his ninth Grand Prix victory at HITS Desert Horse Park this season. His latest win came on Katie Riddle, owned by Monarch International, in the $25,000 SmartPak Wild Card Grand Prix on Friday afternoon.
"It's out of control," said Simpson, after trumping a field of 38 riders. Simpson will ride S.F. Ariantha, owned by Olivia Cox-Fill, in Sunday's match.
No rider made it double-clear in Friday's class. Simpson and Katie Riddle were first to go and were very fast, in a time of 32.641, but had the “A” element of the combination down. The combination proved to be almost every riders’ nemesis in the jump-off, and it became the focus of the remaining riders’ warm-up preparation.
"I used a little too much extra leg there," Simpson said of the tricky combination. But his aggressive ride, even with the rail, was worth it. "It was a very quick jump-off," he continued, but his fast time held up through the rest of the round.
Simpson’s son, 13-year-old Ty, came out and joined him at HITS Thermal Friday and will be there for the Million. “He brought me really good luck on Friday the 13th,” he said. S.F. Ariantha also qualified for Friday's jump-off, but Simpson decided to give her a rest so she would be fresh for Sunday's Million and so did not return for the speed round. The pair, nonetheless, placed seventh in the class.
Five other riders made it to the jump-off, with the second through fourth place spots going to other four-faulters. Richard Spooner placed second on Chivas Z, owned by SN Stables LLC in 32.758 — just a tenth of a second behind Simpson; Kilian McGrath took third on BB Casablanca, owned by Georgy Maskrey-Segesman in 36.930; and Chris Pratt rounded out fourth on Zetro Sent, owned by the Epic Group LLC in 40.105.
Marina Azevedo, of Brazil, designed the course.
General admission tickets are on sale now for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, presented by MortgageCall, Sunday, March 15! General Admission tickets are $10 per person. Children under 12 are free. Tickets are available at the Main Gate on the day of the show. For more spectator information, click here.
$25,000 SmartPak Wild Card Grand Prix - HITS Thermal - Week VIII
Place Horse Owner Rider Prize Rd. 1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Katie Riddle Monarch International William Simpson $7,500 0 4 32.641
2 Chivas Z SN Stables LLC Richard Spooner $5,500 0 4 32.758
3 BB Casablanca Gregory Maskrey-Segesman Kilian McGrath $3,250 0 4 36.930
4 Zetro Sent The Epic Group LLC Chris Pratt $2,000 0 4 40.105
5 Goodwill VB Caledonia Stables Greg Broderick $1,500 0 8 39.451
6 Paloma Melanie Brooks Keri Potter $1,250 0 8 44.974
7 S.F. Ariantha Olivia Cox-Fill William Simpson $1,000 4 * *
8 Atlantis T Grafton Farm Brian Morton $1,000 4 * *
9 Ace of Hearts Little Valley Farms Ashlee Bond $750 4 * *
10 Utopia John Perez Bohm John Perez Bohm $500 4 * *
11 Baldira Mirador and Paul Schockemoh Ray Texel $500 4 * *
12 Gitano Federico Fernandez Sender Federico Fernandez Sender $500 4 * *