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Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata fly to victory in the FEI 1.50 Las Vegas National Welcome Jumper Speed Classic

Saturday, 17 November 2018
CSI4*-W Las Vegas 2018

Photo (c) Andrew Ryback Photography. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata. Photo (c) Andrew Ryback Photography.

Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA) and Akuna Mattata (Quinar x Landwind II) withstood the test of time Thursday night at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, jumping third in the order and holding on through 44 riders to win the $40,000 FEI 1.50m Las Vegas National Welcome Jumper Speed Classic.

The California based Shahinian-Simpson and Carol Rosenstein's 10-year-old mare were simply uncatchable over course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio's 1.50m speed track, which also served as the qualifier for Saturday's $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas, presented by Walter Oil & Gas. The winning time was 63.54 seconds, about a half-second faster than runners-up Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Chameur (Cayetano L x Grossadmiral). Karrie Rufer (USA) and Georgie d'Auvray EC (Vancouver d'Auvray x Nabab de Reve) finished third with a time of 64.10 seconds.

"When I walked the course, I thought it was a really smooth track," Shahinian-Simpson said. "My mare is generally very fast, and she was smooth on the ends of rings, so she felt incredible. Her gallop was great, she's brave, and she can do those inside slices."

Despite having little information to go off of while jumping early in the order, Shahinian-Simpson remained steadfast and confident in her plan. 

"As rider, I like to go early," she said. "Sometimes toward the end [of the class], someone can catch you, but I just had my plan, and I went with it. My horse really was in top form today."

Shahinian-Simpson plans to jump Akuna Mattata, affectionately known as "Nahla," in the week's featured World Cup competition following a successful season competing on the West Coast Sub-League of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League. The duo have competed in three World Cup classes this season, and ribboned each time, finishing twelfth in Sacramento, fourth in Del Mar and, most recently, tenth at Thermal. 

"This is her first indoor season," Shahinian-Simpson said. "Sacramento was her first big indoor show. I couldn't be happier with how she has come along. She's 10 years old now, and I've had her for her whole life; I have her two sisters as well. It's been a fun journey. Everything I ask, she just gives me. She's very easy to ride indoors and seems to like it."

Akuna Mattata's birth story is unique.  Dam SRF Butterfly, who Shahinian-Simpson also campaigned, produced four embryos, resulting in three in-foal mares. All three fillies - Akuna Mattata, April Moon, and Abbey Road -are competing successfully in the sport of show jumping.

"It's so unique," Shahinian-Simpson said. "All three mares, from the very beginning, have just been real competitors. They all have their own way, and I try to stay out of their way. It's just been an incredible journey with owner Carol Rosenstein owning the mom as well. It's really been just a dream." 

Press release from Blenheim EquiSports // Photo (c) Andrew Ryback Photography. 

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