Sophie Simpson Captures the Win in the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West
San Juan Capistrano, Calif. – Taking home the win in the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West was Sophie Simpson (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), earning high scores in each phase of the four-phase competition.
USEF Talent Search judges, Ronnie Beard and Michele Grubb of Wellington, Fla., designed the courses with Anthony D’Ambrosio of Red Hook, N.Y., serving as Technical Delegate.
Friday morning’s flat phase was split up into groups as the riders were tested on their basic dressage movements such as the counter-canter, leg-yield, turn on the haunches, and other exercises where Simpson earned the highest score of 91.0. The gymnastics phase followed, testing their flat work and jumping patterns, including an S-line with a simple lead change which proved to be the most challenging.
“In a split second you have to realize what lead you landed on, get them back down to the walk or the trot and then pick up a different lead in a matter of five strides,” explained Simpson.
Riding Henri HX, a six-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Sloan Lindemann-Barnett, Simpson earned a cumulative two-phase score of 223.0 going into the jumping phase. The competition was tight with the top three riders only points away, however, once the top four were named, they each started the final phase with a score of zero.
Simpson was joined by Austin Krawitt (Okotoks, Canada), Kaitlyn Lovingfoss (Canyon Country, Calif.), and Jake Wasson (Laguna Beach, Calif.) in the fourth and final phase of competition, riding their mounts over a shortened course, followed by a trip on each of the other three horses. Only being allowed a two-minute warm-up aboard their competitor’s horse, the riders were tested on their ability to ride an unfamiliar horse.
When asked about which ride was their favorite, Krawitt explained it was watching Simpson ride his horse. “She went in, didn’t swap once, didn’t cross-canter and got every single distance perfect and walked right out of the ring like it was her horse.”
For her prestigious win, Simpson received the Denali Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mrs. Maya Z Hamburger. Scirocco 91, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding ridden by Reserve Champion Austin Krawitt and owned by A.E.S. Equestrian, Inc, earned the Gulliver Perpetual Trophy, donated by Karen Healey, as the best horse per the judges.
Fifteen-year-old Austin Krawitt, the youngest of the four riders, had never competed in this final before earning today’s reserve champion title. Riding under the guidance of his mom and trainer, Sandra Anderson, Krawitt has many notable achievements just from this past year including Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships presented by Gotham North junior team bronze, Thunderbird Nations Cup junior team bronze, and top ten at the Maclay Zone 8 Regional Final and CET Medal Regional Final.
Taking a new mount into the ring, Kaitlyn Lovingfloss had only been riding Carlos since Tuesday and expertly guided him through his first equitation class to finish third overall. While she had many great rides, she felt her best ride in the final phase was aboard Simpson’s Henri HX.
With one more junior year left, Jake Wasson dedicated his ride to his mom, explaining that she always pushes him towards his goals and dreams. He achieved this year’s goal by qualifying and finishing in the top four of the Talent Search and hopes to have similar, if not better results next year.
Over the course of the next year, riders all over the country will be working on qualifying for the Talent Search Program with hopes to earn a spot at the 2019 East or West Final event in the fall. The Talent Search Program encourages young and junior riders to develop the skills needed to become and effective jumper rider and prepares them to be the next generation of international riders.
Image courtesy Captured Moment Photography