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Will Simpson continues mastery of HITS Thermal with fifth Grand Prix win

Sunday, 01 February 2015
HITS Thermal 2015

Will Simpson on S.F. Arlantha. Photo (c) ESI Photography.
Will Simpson on S.F. Arlantha. Photo (c) ESI Photography.

Olympic Gold Medalist Will Simpson has virtually shut out the field of Grand Prix riders so far at HITS Desert Horse Park. Simpson, riding S.F. Ariantha, claimed his fifth consecutive victory with a first place finish in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Friday. S.F. Ariantha, a new mount for Simpson, is owned Olivia Cox-Fill.

Thirty-five riders competed in the class and 11 returned for the jump-off. Simpson took home the $7,500 top prize by cleanly completing the jump-off course in 39.033 seconds -- just a tenth of a second faster than  second place finisher Karl Cook on Basimodo, owned by Signe Ostby, with a time of 39.130 seconds. A little more than a full second behind Simpson and Cook, to finish in third, was Kara Chad, riding Stone Ridge Farms LLC’s Alberto II, in a clean 40.551 seconds. Both Cook and Chad finished in the top six on other horses, Cook with Ostby’s Tembla in fourth, and Chad on Stone Ridge’s Zamiro 16, in sixth.

Simpson said S.F. Ariantha “is a really fast horse and a different ride, for me but I loved it." He praised the setting, too, adding, "It's such a nice circuit here and I am in my zone, as they say. Everything is rolling along pretty good…I probably need to pinch myself a little.”

Second-place finisher Cook said, “We went as fast as we could but Will went faster. I am really proud of both horses. They are really ready for Sunday (the $50,000 Horze Equestrian Grand Prix).” He said of his strategy, “I took a chance on the inside turn toward the last two jumps and it worked. I knew on this horse I couldn't do the eight strides later so I had to ramp up somehow. I thought I'd do what no one else did, and see if I could get an advantage but still do the nine strides. Will was just faster."

Chad, in third place, noting the competitive spirit of the jump-off said, “It was a fast jump-off for all of us. The course was not 'too' big but it got bigger as it went along so you had to take that into account -- leave the jumps up but go as fast as you can. I tried to give Karl a run for his money but he just out did me a bit in the end.”

Select HITS Thermal and Hits Ocala Grand Prix events are available to watch live and on-demand at

Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix


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