Temecula, Calif. – April 20, 2019 – The first week of the Temecula Valley National Horse Show (TVNHS) concluded Saturday afternoon with the featured show jumping class of the week, the $40,000 KindredBio National Grand Prix. Out of a field of 37 horse-and-athlete combinations, the Audi Grand Prix Arena, presented by Evergate Stables, saw only seven competitors find their way to the jump-off, and ultimately it was defending title-holder Mandy Porter and Milano that saved the best for last to ride away with top honors. Will Simpson and Whoop De Doo were awarded second place, with Nayel Nassar rounding out the top three riding Lordan.
Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) 12-obstacle track proved challenging for the field of competitors as rails fell in various places on the course. The time-allowed for the first round was adjusted to 74 seconds to accommodate for the tight and difficult track, with two riders going clear while still obtaining time faults. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata, owned by Silver Raven Farm, were the first to leave all of the fences intact without incurring any time faults, with other clear finishers including Kyle King, Everado Hegeweisch, Julia Nagler, Simpson, Nassar, and Porter.
As the first pair to go clear, Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata were the pathfinders for the eight-obstacle jump-off track. No stranger to a quick jump-off, the pair left all of the rails up, setting the pace to beat at 37.295 seconds. Shahinian-Simpson’s time was quickly taken over by the next competitors, King and Christian, as they left nothing to chance and finished on a fault-free time of 36.973 seconds.
King’s lead was short-lived when Olympic veteran Simpson entered the arena riding Coxe Horses, LLC’s Whoop De Doo. Simpson and the 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding put down a swift and tidy track, shaving over one second off of the leading time to finish in 35.768 seconds. For a final time, the lead would change hands as last year’s winners, Porter and Milano, entered the Audi Grand Prix Arena.
Coming back to defend her title, Porter and the 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding took every opportunity to shave time on course, tackling rollbacks and corners with ease. The pair just narrowly bested Simpson’s time, finishing just three-tenths faster in 35.471 seconds to take the win. Simpson and Whoop De Doo would ultimately be awarded with second place, while owner-rider Nassar and Lordan rounded out the top three.
Porter has had the ride on Abigail Archer’s Milano for the last three years, and the pair has been accumulating winning titles up and down the west coast. Most notably, Porter and Milano won the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in 2017 at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. Porter and Milano were the 2018 $60,000 KindredBio Grand Prix winners during the inaugural TVNHS, as well nabbed the top spot in the $40,000 Aon Grand Prix later in the series.
Run concurrently with the grand prix, the U25 Jumper Classic offered riders under the age of 25 the chance to compete over the same track to gain points towards the U25 division championships. To cap off the evening of awards, 20-year-old Sloan Elmassian and her own mount, Centurion, bested the field of U25 competitors to ride away with the blue ribbon. This year is Elmassian’s fifth year partnered with the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, and the pair are eager to continue climbing the ranks in both grand prix classes as well as the U25 division.
Saturday’s competition concludes the first week of the TVNHS, but another exciting three weeks of equestrian competition will commence Wednesday, May 15, and will run through Sunday, June 2.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Mandy Porter – $40,000 KindredBio National Grand Prix winner
On her plan for the first round:
“To be honest, I was not feeling on my game today. I did not like the way I rode my other two horses so I was a little disappointed in myself, but then [Milano] was jumping so well he sort of took it over and so I tried to ride better than I did on my first two.”
“We have had him in the barn since he was 8 years old, so 6 years. His owner rode him for three years and then I started riding him after that. He is cheeky and really competitive, and I really like that about him.”
On the jump-off:
“I just went to go and be as fast as I could. I did not think for a second that I would be faster than the first two, [Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Will Simpson]. I just didn’t think it was possible, but Milano had other ideas and it all worked out.”
On showing at the TVNHS:
“I like that it is an exhibitor-friendly show and that you feel very welcome here. Everyone involved with Nilforushan Equisport Events is always trying to improve and do what they feel is right for exhibitors, owners, and spectators. They are making great sport with good energy!”
Sloan Elmassian – U25 Jumper Classic winner
On her horse:
“I bought him as a 7-year-old. I had just moved up, so we have been on this grand prix journey together. I am so proud of him. It’s really rewarding to see the hard work that you’ve put in pay off. He is 11 years old now, turning 12 at the end of the month. He acts like he’s slow in the warmup arena and he likes to fake you out because he saves all of his energy for the show ring. He’s a show ring horse, he loves to perform. The bigger the crowd and bigger the hype, he loves to show off. He’s my best friend and he gives me 110 percent every time. I couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
On the course:
“Olaf [Petersen, Jr.] is great, it was honestly a great course. He really challenges the riders and puts the responsibility on them and gives you all the tools to succeed. It’s up to you to make it happen. I was really worried about the track from the AIG jump to the Voltaire oxer, whether to do five or six strides, and I ended up going with six. From the KindredBio vertical to the Audi oxer, I was debating whether to do it in eight or in seven strides, but I ended up doing it in seven so that the in-and-out combination wasn’t too long.”
On competing at the TVNHS:
“Everything has just gotten better. Ali [Nilforushan] has a really unique perspective as an exhibitor, so he knows how to cater to the exhibitor’s needs but also put on a very professional horse show. It’s really cool to have the VIP ring-side, it’s just like a show in Europe. He really raises the bar for the quality of a horse show and what it should be.”
On riding in the U25:
“This is my second year in the division, I started competing in it last year and I’m 20 years old. The plan is to keep going and just go out there and do my best. I have big aspirations, so I’ll just keep working hard and putting the work in, giving it all I have. I’ll be back here in May for all three weeks, I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
$40,000 KindredBio National Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Milano / Mandy Porter / Abigail Archer / 0 | 72.513 / 0 | 35.471
2. Whoop De Doo / Will Simpson / Coxe Horses, LLC / 0 | 72.400 / 0 | 35.768
3. Lordan / Nayel Nassar / Nayel Nassar / 0 | 72.373 / 0 | 36.433
4. Christian / Kyle King / Joyce Pedigo / 0 | 72.017 / 0 | 36.973
5. Akuna Mattata / Nicole Shahinian-Simpson / 0 | 71.124 / 0 | 37.295
6. Killosery Kuidam / Julia Nagler / Julia Nagler / 0 | 71.947 / 4 | 38.216
7. Ircos IV / Everado Hegeweisch / Everado Hegeweisch / 0 | 72.636 / 8 | 41.215
8. Ulysse / Ali Leopold-Moreno / Phyllis Thomas / 2 | 76.348
9. Cadillac / Nikolaj Hein Ruus / Spruce Meadows Ltd / 3 | 77.292
10. Donatello 141 / Ashlee Bond / Little Valley Farms / 4 | 71.816
11. Laurence Z / Susan Artes / Alix Fargo / 4 | 71.816
12. WT Ca Pow! / Mandy Porter / 4 | 72.988
For more information, please visit www.jump-nee.com.