Saturday, February 1, 2020 — Wellington, FL — Last to go in the 1.50m $36,600 CSI4*-W Turkish Airlines Classic at Deeridge Farms, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA) knew she had one more ace in her pocket aboard Akuna Mattata.
“She’s very funny, she covers a lot of ground. When you land and you accelerate, she kicks into turbo, and she really grabs the ground,” said Shahinian-Simpson, who dashed through the jump-off timers in a winning time of 33.01 seconds. “Over the years and time [together], I’ve become comfortable with that. She can leave out a stride easily, and that’s where she won today.”
The pair finished just ahead of a foot-perfect Karl Cook (USA) and Fecybelle with 33.48 seconds and a smooth-but-speedy Rodrigo De Paula Pessoa (BRA) in third with Venice Beach on 33.81 seconds.
Held in the Sand Arena during the Palm Beach Masters Series® Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Week CSI4*-W/CSI2, Course Designer Alan Wade’s (IRL) 12-obstacle, first-round track proved challenging for a number of combinations in the 30-horse field. Ten moved forward to contest the shortened course, and there, the ability to harness Akuna Mattata’s raw power moved Shahinian-Simpson to the top of the pack.
“[Akuna Mattata] is super sensitive, and although she looks very active, she’s not at all strong. She roots, but she’s very manageable and easy to rate to the jumps,” the Wellington-based rider said. This is the second win of the week for Shahinian-Simpson and the 12-year-old American-bred Holsteiner, who also topped the 10,000 CSI4*-W Palm Beach Masters Warm-up on Thursday.
Despite Akuna Mattata’s specialized program for loading into the start-gate and exiting the arena, Shahinian-Simpson says the mare’s unconventionality is part of her strength. “We’ve done some training with her, keeping her manageable in the [schooling ring], and getting into the ring. We got a little bit of a handle on it, because it was getting pretty out of control—all of it is adrenaline with her.”
Shahinian-Simpson, who also rode Akuna Mattata’s mother, Carole Rosenstein’s M-Dragonfly, says that knowing the mare for so many years has helped them build a special bond. “A lot of it is trust. I couldn’t imagine trying to change her in any way, because I don’t think I would win, or anybody would win, so you just accommodate,” she said.
“I guess it’s what makes her good!”
The stage is set for the $213,300 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington.
The $213,300 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington CSI4*-W highlights the first week of Palm Beach Masters Series® competition at Deeridge Farms for the fifth straight year.
The main event will feature the 40 best athletes from Friday’s $72,900 Candy Tribble Qualifier CSI4*-W.
An incredible field will line up to compete in what will be the penultimate qualifier of the 2019/2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League season. Points received from the event will determine the seven east coast U.S. riders and three west coast U.S. riders that will earn invitations to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas in April. The top two Canadian and Mexican riders in the standings will also qualify out of the North American League.
Three former World Cup Final Champions will come forward Sunday, including Beezie Madden (USA), who has twice won the Final (2011, 2018). McLain Ward (USA) won the Final the last time it was held in the United States, triumphing in Omaha in 2017, while Beat Mändli (SUI) won the Final in 2007, one of six previous occasions when the Final was held in Vegas.
Also among the field will be the event’s defending Champions, Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W. The pair recorded their first World Cup victory at Deeridge Farms in 2019 and went on to represent the United States in the 2019 Pan American Games (PER), where they earned a team bronze medal.
The leaders of both the east and west coast sub league standings of the North American League, Brian Moggre (USA) and Karl Cook (USA), will line up, as well as the World’s No. 1 ranked rider, Martin Fuchs (SUI). Fuchs captured the 2019 FEI European Championships after making his Palm Beach Masters Series® debut last year.
The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ is set for 1:30pm on Sunday, Feb. 2. Admission and parking at Deeridge Farms are free.
Previous Winners of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington
-2019: Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W
-2018: Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Cita
-2017: Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Lordan
-2016: Kent Farrington (USA) and Uceko