July 20, 2002, San Diego, CA -- Thirty-eight top riders from across the United States convened Saturday at Del Mar Showpark to begin trials that will continue Sunday with the second and third rounds and conclude next weekend up the coast in San Juan Capistrano.
It was a tough course plotted out by course designer Leopoldo Palacios. Only seven competitors went clean over the course that consisted of high wide oxers and tough double lines that caused faults for many riders. Some horses had trouble at the tall and imposing Ford-sponsored vertical, while others seemed to have the jump to get over it but ran into trouble staying round enough to clear the wide double and triple oxer lines.
Kimberly Frey took the lead early on with a clean round and time of 77.92 seconds aboard Bergerac, a 13-year-old Selle Francis gelding. Kimberly made headlines in 2000 when she won the Swedish Hill Winery Speed Stake, grabbed second in the $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Lake Placid, and finished fourth in the $35,000 I Love New York Grand Prix. This year Kimberly and Bergerac have been busy as well, with two Grand Prix wins already under their belts.
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson followed Chris Kappler, whose close call at the seventh jump almost took it down. Nicole was among the top seven, taking fifth place aboard El Campeons Cirka Z.
"I thought the course route was nice, it seemed fair." said Nicole. "There were a couple places that were harder than others, like the double line down the middle of the course. My horse is little but he has a big scope and a big stride." With a time that was only three seconds behind the leader, Nicole and El Campeons Cirka Z will be back Sunday for rounds two and three.
Lauren Hough had a doubly successful day, winning third place on Clasiko, a 10-year-old German Warmblood gelding owned by The Clasiko Group. Lauren came back later in the lineup and took the ribbon for fastest ride aboard her second mount, 10 year old Holsteiner gelding Windy City.
The USET wisely chose San Diego to host the trials for the first time ever on the West Coast. The local Grand Prix riders, including Will Simpson and Nicole Shahinian-Simpson, are more than happy to be riding in front of their family and friends through next weekend. When The USET Show Jumping Trials concludes at The Oaks in San Juan Capistrano, a team of horses and riders will be on their way in September to Jerez, Spain, this year's host of the World Equestrian Games. They will be well prepared after spending this time in Southern California, with its warm, dry climate and Spanish tradition.
The remaining two rounds Sunday and the final selections next weekend will determine who is best qualified to represent the United States through cumulative scores. From a starting field of thirty-eight it will be interesting to watch as the competition heats up over the next week.
For more detailed results, go to www.uset.org