Simon Crippen is maybe not the most familiar name on the international showjumping scene yet, but as WoSJ sits down with this 30 year old Brit we discover there is every reason it will be. This weekend Crippen made his five star debut in Falsterbo, and with several good rounds with the flashy Voltaire-stallion Voss he made his mark as one to watch.
Simon comes from a family full of horse traditions, and his father was “the real horseman in the family,” Simon explains. “My father started out riding when he was quite young, and he was the type of rider who rode what he got in his hands – he didn’t have the means to be picky. After some time he was known as a guy who could sort the difficult horses out,” Simon tells us. “My father rode at national level, and his interest was so strong that I started out riding as a small boy.”
Simon’s first success came on a pony called Three In One; “I won the National Championship on Three In One in 1996,” Simon says. “Then I was asked to ride some younger horses for Judy Ross, and the first one I got from her –Divines des Cabanes – was a really good one! I won three national classes on her at the Horse of the Year Show, and she won a lot for me when I was a young rider,” Simon smiles. “After some time I went to Peter Charles for two years, which was very good experience for me. Then I spend a brief period in Holland and was based for about 7-8 months at Jan Tops’ stable,” he continues.
Since 2003 Simon has concentrated on producing young horses for top level, and now “it’s all falling to place”. Out of the six horses Simon has available for the international classes, five of them are produced by Simon himself. Simon has been a regular in the national young horse classes and championships in Britain, as well as competing at the World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken on several occasions.
Voss – the beautiful dark chestnut stallion that jumped the Grand Prix in Falsterbo this weekend – is Simon’s current top horse. In the Nations Cup in Copenhagen they were clear for the British team, and at both the three and four star shows in Drammen and Fontainebleau they were high up in the 1.50 classes. In Fontainebleau Simon only had riders such as Bernardo Alves, Rene Lopez and Michel Robert ahead of him – not too bad for a new guy in town. In the Grand Prix in Falsterbo, only one unlucky pole fell to the ground after an impressive round. “I’ve had Voss since 2008, and he is a top horse! When he came to me he had only jumped at 1.20 level, but he went up the classes very quickly. The only thing was that he was meant for John Whitaker, and only came to me as John got injured – so after a while he left,” Simon explains. “But, luckily for me Voss came back to me earlier this year. After a short time he won a national Grand Prix, and now we are here,” Simon smiles about the recent development which has brought him on to the British teams. “The owners of Voss – Mr. and Mrs. Brake – also have a ten year old called Uniek that I just started riding. He’s a very competitive horse, but currently a bit up and down,” Simon explains about the Murano-gelding that won a class in Copenhagen in May.
Then there are the horses owned by Simon’s long-time supporter Judy Ross, and one of the best of them is the nine year old mare Ondine du Logis. “I have had Ondine since she was two years old. She is a fantastic mare and a big jumper! Ondine is definitely a Grand Prix horse, and not one for the speed classes,” Simon tells us of the mare who was placed 9th in the 7 year old final at the World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken in 2009.
“I also have a lovely eight year old mare called Wembley, owned by one of my other supporters Jenny Bingham. She will hopefully be my next star, as she is almost always clear and already has some great results! Wembley was second at the World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken as a five year old, and last year she was second in the Foxhunter final at the Horse of the Year Show, “ Simon says proudly of the Concorde-mare that is now eight years old. “ I saw Wembley as a three year old, but she wasn’t for sale. Seven months later she was, and Jenny and I didn’t hesitate,” Simon says.
Time has come for Simon to focus on a top level career, and his owners are also ambitious for their horses. “There are lots of challenges though; everything now needs to be planned carefully, and when we travel from Britain we prefer to do more than one show while away – that requires that someone is at home riding the younger one’s and so forth. I’m lucky to have two brothers to help as well as my mother; one of my brothers helped me out at the shows, and the other one is at home also doing my horses that are not at the shows with me,” Simon says about what it takes to make everything go around. “So I find the easiest thing about showjumping is showjumping,” Simon smiles.
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