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Riding to Excellence - The Veredus Awards: Will Simpson, Michael Williamson, Estelle Navet, Christine Hoch and Allison Yantos
Del Mar, CA - The stories from the last two weeks of the 2016 Showpark season are plentiful, from medal winners standing on the podium in the CPHA Foundation Equitation Championships to veterans Will Simpson and The Dude leading two victory gallops. Plus young horses strutting their stuff in the 2016 Sallie B. Wheeler U.S. Hunter Breeding National Championship, West Coast, to impressive young jumpers having quadruple clean rounds over three days in the Western League edition of the Young Jumper Championships. In addition, Veredus recognized five Leading Jumper riders with sashes and Veredus Horse Boots Gift Certificates, for accumulating the most points on their highest placed horse from their respective section and classics.

Leading Open Jumper Rider: Will Simpson
After winning both the $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix and the $50,000 Showpark All Seasons Grand Prix on The Dude, Olympian Will Simpson earned 30 points, edging out Jaime Azcarraga, who had 24 points.

The victories are sweet for this pair, and together they are often unbeatable. In 2014, Simpson purchased the bay Oldenburg gelding for Nicoletta Heidegger to show, but her busy schedule didn't give her time to ride, so she asked Simpson to take over. Soon after The Dude and Simpson were show jumping superstars, winning grand prix after grand prix in the winter of 2015.

In January of this year, he was sold to Nicole (Nikki) Walker (CAN) but Walker realized that although The Dude is truly a talent, his past rider often brought out the best in him. She asked Simpson to once again show the horse.

Simpson and The Dude quickly got reacquainted and the victory gallops ensued. In June they won in Thunderbird, in July they conquered Colorado and then upon returning to California they repeated their stellar performances at the Showpark All Seasons Summer Tournament. See the details of these wins in the Markel Insurance Grand Prix Press Release and the Showpark All Seasons Grand Prix Press Release.

Veredus Leading Open Jumper Rider Will Simpson with Melissa Brandes of Blenheim EquiSports

Simpson said, "This last class he felt as good as he ever has. Now that he's ten-years-old, he feels ready to do it all. I'm honored to be riding him again."

Leading Junior Jumper Rider: Michael Williamson
Michael Williamson donned the Leading Rider Sash for the second time this year, as he previously had earned the title in the Junior Jumper Division during the Showpark Festival Series this summer, accumulating points on his horses Gucci and Casco Junior. This time no one could catch his 24 point total from one week at the Showpark Summer Classic. Williamson won two 1.30m Junior-Amateur/Owner classes and was second in the 1.30m Junior-Amateur/Owner Classic on Gucci.

Williamson acknowledged that consistency was what earned him Verdus Award for the second time. He credits his experienced mount.

Michael Williamson and Gucci

"I really just try to stay out of his way. He does his job extremely well," Williamson noted. The pair don't spend much time practicing at home. "I mainly just condition him at home and keep him fit. He's in really good shape for his age (17)."

From the Sacramento area and training with Patty Ball, Williamson is serious about equestrian sport - horses are his future. Working his way up, he started with winning the local pony medal final in 2012 and continues to add to his accolades, including top finishes in the Maclay Regional, USEF Talent Search Finals West and an invitation to the EAP Nationals last November. The future is bright for this two-time Veredus Award winner.

Leading Amateur Jumper Rider: Estelle Navet
In her first year as an Amateur rider, Estelle Navet was over the moon when she won the Verdus Leading Amateur Jumper Rider Award. Her victory in the 1.30m Junior-Amateur/Owner Jumper Classic on Sunday of the Showpark All Seasons Tournament clinched the Leading Rider win.

The eldest daughter of French Show Jumping Champion Eric Navet, she was her own trainer this week while her parents were in Europe. Her younger sister, Laurene, set the jumps. Estelle credits Laurene for her victory, as well as her parents and most importantly her partner for the last year and a half, Revann de Lojou.

"My dad found him in France for me and he's just a winner in his mind. I just follow him and he takes me. I started in the Children's Jumpers and now we are at 1.40m. We'll see how far he will take me," she said of her mount. "I'm just very proud to be consistent. My horse did a great job the whole season, and it's great that we're rewarded for that."

Leading Adult Jumper Rider: Christine Hoch
As a member of Team Copper Hill, Christine Hoch rides with Nicki Mathen out of Austin, Texas. Earning a total of 41 points in the Low Adult Jumpers, Hoch and Fantasma dominated the division, winning two classes and division champion as well as bringing home the blue in the Low Child/Adult Classic.

Knowing the Veredus Award was on the line for Hoch, the crowd went wild at the end of the classic when she was announced as the winner of both the class and the award! An exciting California victory for the team from Texas.

Blenheim looks forward to seeing Copper Hill at The 2016 Las Vegas National in November, where possibly Hoch will be hot on the Veredus Leading Jumper Rider Award trail once again.

Leading Children's Jumper Rider: Allison Yantos
Allison Yantos can wear the Leading Rider Sash with pride after earning 50 points in the Children's Jumper Division with her equine partner, Tasi's Sophia.

The pair won the Children's Jumper Classic at the Showpark Summer Classic and then each class they entered at Showpark All Seasons. Yantos rides with Jess Wentworth at Royal Heaven Farm in Escondido.

The Veredus Leading Jumper Riders - Ride to Excellence!


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