Edited Press Release
San Juan Capistrano, CA – July 30, 2022 – Sophie Simpson-Leckie and her newest mount, Hero W, earned victory in the $25,000 Blenheim Racing Festival Grand Prix on Saturday, July 30, in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
Simpson-Leckie and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, owned by Ilan Ferder, looked every bit a veteran winning combination as they tackled Saturday’s track at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. In reality, however, the pair have only been partnered for two weeks, with Simpson-Leckie and Hero W making their show debut together last week before returning to top the leaderboard during the Blenheim Racing Festival.
“I’ve been working through trying to find the right bridle,” explained Simpson-Leckie. “This morning I tried the one I used today, and I was like, ‘Okay. I think this is it.’ He just felt amazing in the first round and even better in the jump-off. I’m just really lucky to be able to ride and have a partnership with him.”
Simpson-Leckie and Hero W were the first of five entries from the original 15-horse starting field to return for the challenging jump-off, set on the grass Oaks International Grand Prix Field by course designer Anderson Lima of Brazil.
While a rail came down at an oxer midway through the course, Simpson-Leckie and Hero W’s time of 41.449 seconds would be enough to secure them the win. Each of the additional returners also saw one rail down apiece, with second place on a time of 41.654 seconds going to Matthew Williams and Joevaro N. Rounding out the top three was Trent McGee who finished in 42.105 seconds riding Boucherom.
“To be quite honest with you, this is my first jump-off on this horse, so I was just wanting to go for a double clear,” said Simpson-Leckie, who trains alongside her husband, Sean Leckie, at their Blue Ridge Farms in San Juan Capistrano, CA. “Obviously, that didn’t happen, but it was just smooth and nice and good to get to know him a little bit.”
With the class held concurrently with a U25 Classic, 24-year-old Simpson-Leckie was also named the U25 winner.
Another notable jumper win of the week at Blenheim EquiSports went to Mariano Maggi on Thursday, July 28. Maggi and Zuperman MT, owned by Jessie Jia, topped a field of 20 entries to win the $10,000 Markel Insurance 1.35m Jumper Classic. Second place went to Jason McArdle on Elicole, and Simpson-Leckie and Daytona Du Sud rounded out the top three.