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Simpson Show Jumping debuts at HITS Desert Circuit

THERMAL, CA (February 28, 2009)—Olympic show jumping Team Gold Medalist Will Simpson and his wife, internationally renowned rider Nicole Shahinian Simpson, are launching Simpson Show Jumping, a high- performance training and riding operation for owners who want to compete at the elite level of the sport. The venture marks a unique opportunity for owners to work with two of the world’s top show jumping athletes, applying their unparalleled horsemanship skills to world championship competition using their signature “American Style” of riding.

The announcement was made at the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California, where Will Simpson bested two fellow Olympic contenders to take the blue on his new ride Archie Bunker in the $50,000 Purina Mills FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan earlier this month.

In discussing their exciting plans, Simpson explained that that the focus and drive that’s made the couple world champions will be powering every facet of the Simpson Show Jumping operation. Shahinian Simpson spent the past year competing in Florida and throughout Europe as a finalist on the USEF’s “short list” for the 2008 Olympic team.

“Our immediate goal is to focus on assembling the quality of horses necessary to qualify for the 2012 Olympics and other championships,” said Will Simpson in announcing the venture. “From the World Cup to the World Equestrian Games, we intend to be competing at the highest level, in North America and throughout the world,” said Nicole Shahinian Simpson.

In addition to the Simpsons’ highly-sought services as competitive riders and trainers, Simpson Show Jumping will host clinics, develop and train young horses and offer coaching to a limited number of serious students. But the couple’s focus will be the international arenas that host competition at the highest level of the sport.

The Simpsons are off to a great start. In November, Will won the $50,000 Los Angeles National aboard Archie, owned by California client Linda Smith. Nicole has had a stellar season piloting Dragonfly for owner Katie Polk and Silver Raven Farms and racking up points for the World Cup Finals.

Will is also training Narina VI 2 and Alesi for owner Linda Starkman, and has also been tapped to ride the 14-year-old mare Nadia for New York-based Georgina Bloomberg. In addition, Simpson is bringing along his own prospect, the eight-year-old Westphalian gelding London Calling. He achieved his Team Gold Olympic Medal riding Carlsson vom Dach under the banner of El Campeon Farms.

“Will is very talented,” said Starkman, who has been in the business for 40 years. “He understands a horse’s mind. He speaks their language. While he’s very good with a quick and spirited animal, I feel confident in his abilities on any horse. He’s a kind rider and very cool under pressure. I don’t know anyone else like him. It’s been amazing to watch him develop over the years.” While slots at Simpson Show Jumping are filling up fast, a limited number of availabilities remain. “We’re going to keep the numbers down and the quality high and focus on horses that have championship potential,” Will noted.

Unique in the show jumping world as a couple riding at equal levels of skill at the highest realm of the sport, the Simpsons last year helped drive the U.S. Nation’s Cup Team to a high degree of success, including second place at the Samsung Super League contest in Rome, with Will on Carlsson and Nicole piloting Dragonfly. In Wellington, Simpson and Carlsson won $100,000 Zada Enterprises Masters Cup while Nicole and Dragonfly came in third. He has represented the United States in five World Cup Finals and she in an astonishing seven.

“Nicki is such a natural talent,” said Polk of Dragonfly’s rider. “She makes everything look like an equitation course, just beautiful and effortless, and all very positive for the horse. She’s done an amazing job of training Dragonfly and bringing her along without changing the horse’s style. She really knows how to bring out the best out in a horse.”

Will Simpson jumped to the top of the sport in Cincinnati in 1985, when he cleared a solid 7-feet, 9 ¼ inch slab riding Jolly Good, setting an outdoor high wall record that stood for 15 years. He went on to more than two decades of success and became a fixture in the winner’s circle during the ’01 to ‘02 season, with six Grand Prix victories on El Campeon’s Ado Annie, propelling him to the USEF’s high point rider for the Western League. After a 10-year stint at El Campeon that culminated in his Olympic victory, the formation of Simpson Show Jumping marks the first time in a decade that Will’s services will be available to outside clients.

Nicole Shahinian Simpson began establishing her extraordinary track record as a junior rider, becoming in 1993 the youngest competitor to take part in the American Invitational. Just four years later she competed in her first World Cup Final and won the Leading Rider Award at Spruce Meadows. She was a member of the U.S. team at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain. She is one of only 11 riders to win both the ASPCA Maclay National Championship and the AHSA/Medal Championship, the most prestigious junior competitions in the U.S.

The couple have two children – eleven-year-old Sophie, who is currently competing on the pony hunter circuit, and Ty, seven.

Simpson Show Jumping is based in Hidden Valley, California, with a barn at Royal Oaks Farms and also at the adjacent Fieldstone Farms, where the operation will take over a brand new 16-stall facility following the winter circuits.

 

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