Sophie Simpson Leads the Way with Why Not in Phase I of Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships

© Taylor Renner: Sophie Simpson and Why Not
Sophie Simpson and Why Not kicked off the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships at the 2016 Pennsylvania National Horse Show with an early lead following Phase I of competition.

Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 13, 2016 – Junior week at the 2016 Pennsylvania National Horse Show kicked off on Thursday and culminated in the day’s only jumper event, the Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper Individual Phase I, where 35 exhibitors showcased their talent in the faults converted one round speed competition. Sophie Simpson and trusted mount Why Not maintained an early lead as the first pair to produce the first clear round of the evening, setting the pace to beat at 55.710 seconds and kicking off her week in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with a win.

Simpson and Why Not, owned by Simpson Show Jumping, have had an illustrious career throughout their three years together with one of the most recent top highlights including winning an individual and team gold medal at the 2016 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in July.

However as indoor season gets underway, Simpson has been focusing more on equitation and making the most out of her final year as a junior, competing at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, where she was champion in the 17-Year-Old Equitation division with You Wish, and finishing in an impressive second place at the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals East aboard Breckenridge just one week ago.

“USEF Finals was great last weekend,” said Simpson. “It was my first time so it was really exciting. I’m going into this year, my last year, pretty relaxed and just going with the flow. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I think that’s where a lot of kids get all frazzled. They get too wrapped up in the fact that it’s their last year, but I’m better with no stress and no pressure. So I’m just going into this week as relaxed as possible and we’ll see where it goes. Of course I would love to win a final. We’ll see what happens!”

With all of her focus being on the equitation lately, and despite not having ridden the 13-year-old KWPN mare in almost a month, Simpson and Why Not displayed their consistent winning ways and developed partnership on Thursday, blazing around the Steve Stephens-designed course to take an early lead in the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships.

© Taylor Renner: Sophie Simpson and Why Not
Sophie Simpson and Why Not

“My mom’s been riding her for me and keeping her fit,” said Simpson. “I just rode her the other day for the first time in a while. I know her so well and know all of her tricks.

“My plan, always for the speed, is just to have a nice clear,” continued Simpson. “She’s naturally very fast so the second I try to go fast it doesn’t really work out very well. I just have to be smooth and relaxed and it all works out.”

The Individual Phase I of the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships saw only five jump clear rounds, but in a speed class where faults are converted into seconds without a jump-off, even those with faults can still be in contention for a top placing with a fast time.

© Taylor Renner: Katherine Strauss and All In
Katherine Strauss and All In

Katherine Strauss piloted her own All In to a clear finish in 56.542 seconds to take second place honors, while Madison Goetzmann and her own Wrigley tripped the timers in 56.955 seconds and, even with 4 faults to their name, rounded out the top three of the class.

© Taylor Renner: Madison Goetzmann and Wrigley
Madison Goetzmann and Wrigley

Caelinn Leahy and Bellis Ltd.’s Esquilino Bay secured fourth place with a time of 57.555 seconds, while Lauren Fischer and Cheryl Fischer’s Tosca Du Feugre and Cooper Dean and William Upton’s Wec Quidam-Quidam both rode clear rounds in 60.562 seconds and 60.956 seconds to take fifth and sixth place, respectively.

© Taylor Renner: Caelinn Leahy and Esquilino Bay
Caelinn Leahy and Esquilino Bay

© Taylor Renner: Lauren Fischer and Tosca Du Feugre
Lauren Fischer and Tosca Du Feugre

Giavanna Rinaldi and Dulf Van Den Bisschop jumped one of the final clear rounds of the class to grab seventh place in 61.178 seconds.

Friday will host Phase II of the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships with the Neue Schule/USEF Prix des States team competition based on a modified Nations Cup format.

Each team member jumps two rounds with the best three scores counting for the team total. The team with the lowest score wins the championship and gold medal.

Scores obtained in Thursday and Friday’s competitions are converted into points and will carry over into Saturday’s final Phase III competition, where the top 60 percent of competitors from Phases I and II, who had not been eliminated, will be eligible. The individual champion is the competitor with the lowest number of combined penalties after Phases I, II and III, and the top three competitors are then awarded the gold, silver or bronze medals.

Be sure to check back with for daily coverage of the 2016 Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, leading up to the Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Final, presented by Randolph College, on Sunday, Oct. 16. Find more information on the Pennsylvania National Horse Show here.

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