November 2018 - Zazou Wows Del Mar!


World Cup winner checks off another milestone on an exhilarating night in Del Mar.

article & photos by Kim F. Miller

Having temporarily moved the Del Mar International to the Del Mar Horse Park last year, West Palms Events chief Dale Harvey acknowledged he was a little worried about the turn-out and atmosphere when it returned to its normal home at the Del Mar Fairgrounds this year.

He needn’t have worried.

nov2018 gallop1Zazou Hoffman & Samson II.

A nearly sold-out crowd of enthusiastic and savvy fans cheered hard-working young horsewoman Zazou Hoffman to a major milestone in her lifelong quest for success as a professional rider. As one of 34 contenders in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Del Mar, the 26-year-old rode Saree Kayne’s Samson II to the win and into the top spot in the West edition of the North American World Cup League, with three rounds done and four to go.

nov2018 gallop2Eduardo Menezes & H5 Quintol.

nov2018 gallop3Will & Sophie Simpson celebrate their win of the Land Rover of San Diego Ride & Drive, in front of the snazzy new EQ International Riders Lounge.

In the four-pair jump-off, Zazou followed Brazilian Olympic pair Eduardo Menezes and H5 Quintol, the first pair to be fault-free after 21 triers could not quite pull it off over Marina Azvedo’s solid course.

They were smooth and fault-free at a pace Eduardo later described as “too shy.” Zazou followed their track, shaving a few tenths of a second through tidy turn-backs and a bold angle to the imposing wall with lightweight blocks that had dashed many hopes in the first round. Throughout, she looked confident and in control, epitomizing the idea of a Maclay Medal Finals winner applying her equitation foundation to effective riding over a Grand Prix track.

nov2018 gallop4Riding last in the jump-off, Nicki Shahanian-Simpson & Akuna Matata had the win in hand, but for a heartbreaking last rail!

nov2018 gallop5Georgina Bloomberg & Chameur.

In the press conference, Zazou gave all the credit to the “amazing” horse Meadow Grove amateur rider and friend Saree Kayne has provided for her to campaign. The year’s been full of four-fault jump-off rounds with Samson, Zazou explained, so she felt confident of going fast and was happy to have found the balance between speed and carefulness. Clearly on Cloud 9 in her own modest way, Zazou was charmingly delighted to learn she could take the Longines watch home with her. “I thought it was just for display!”

Having travelled from New York, Georgina Bloomberg was very happy with her third place finish aboard relatively new mare, Charmeur. Double clear was her goal for the night, and they achieved that without putting pedal to metal.

Riding last in the jump-off Nicki Shahanian-Simpson and the feisty-looking Akuna Matata sliced a daring and unique track between two mid-course fences. They had the win in hand by one second, but incurred the heartbreaker rail while racing over the last fence on course.

Francie Nilforushan was another star of the night aboard Chatinius. Riding fourth in the field, they established that a clear-go was possible, with the round only marred by a time fault that put them fifth. Another relative newcomer at this level, Savanah Jenkins made her mark, too. Riding first, she and Quintana had just one rail and one time fault to finish 11th.

nov2018 gallop6Francie Nilforushan & Clarinius after a clear round, with just 1 time fault, for 5th.

nov2018 gallop7Richard Spooner & Quirado RC were the fastest four-faulters, for 6th.
North American League

Del Mar’s traditional party atmosphere was taken to new heights this year with the addition of the EQ International Rider’s Lounge at one end of the arena. The Land Rover San Diego Ride & Drive was lots of fun as a warm-up act for the Grand Prix. A live band, Common Sense, livened things up before and after the class, while the rider autograph sessions was swarmed with fans despite the late hour.

With two more World Cup qualifier classes in the Western United States this year, the hunt for points is heating up. Zazou now leads, followed by Eve Jobs, Uma O’Neill and Richard Spooner, while Eduardo Menezes moves into fifth-place overall.

nov2018 gallop8Jamie Barge & Luebbo were one of three to suffer the cruel fate of a single brick off the wall. They finished 8th.

nov2018 gallop9Nicki & Ty Simpson clear the liverpool in the Land Rover San Diego Ride & Drive, later won by the rest of their family, Will & Sophie.

The HITS Sunshine Circuit in Thermal hosts the fourth qualifier on Nov. 10, followed the next Saturday in Las Vegas Nov. 17. It will be interesting to see how many, if any, tackle back-to-back weeks of World Cup jumping, especially for those with only one horse. After Las Vegas, the West league goes to Mexico: Guadalajara in January and Leon in February. That’s versus Thermal in March, which has been the final West League qualifier for several years. That should change who and how many of our familiar California contenders contest the shows in Mexico. One thing for sure, the Finals are in Gothenburg, Sweden, April 3-7.

The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 949-644-2165.