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Riders Rave About the Evergreen Invitational Grand Prix

Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata put their name at the top of the leader board to win the 2016 Evergreen Invitational. Photo Chicago Equestrian.

Great Event for a Worthy Cause 

Bristol, WI – September 11, 2016 - The sixth Evergreen Invitational took place M.K. Pritzker’s beautiful Evergreen Farm in Bristol, Wisconsin, to benefit the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Founded by M.K. Pritzker and hosted in partnership with The Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Evergreen Invitational has raised over $6 million to date for historically underfunded programs and research for women’s health services throughout the Chicago area.

The gorgeous Evergreen Farm.  Photo Chicago Equestrian.

The event is first class from beginning to end for both spectators and exhibitors. The feature event, The Evergreen Invitational Grand Prix, presented by the Wood-Prince Family, brought 21 riders from across the country to compete for $75,000 in prize money. Seven riders made it around the Ken Krome designed grass course, fault free, to move into the jump off. Krome, an FEI course designer, pays attention to the detail and decoration of the track, making it attractive and inviting for both spectators and horses. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata, owned by Silver Raven Farms, Malibu, California, conquered Krome’s challenges to earn the top prize with the fastest double clear round of the day.

FEI course designer Ken Krome. Photo Chicago Equestrian

“This event is all about showing off how impressive our sport is,” said Krome. “We spend days decorating and building to really showcase the horses. It’s a beautiful field and the size is fantastic so you can spread the jumps out so the horses can really gallop and jump on grass like they were meant to.”
It was David Jennings of Franklin, Tennessee, and Blue Moon 22 who set the pace in the jump off with a clean and fast round and a time of 41.995. Angel Karolyi and Indiana 127 were next to try to catch Jennings’ fast time, stopping the clock at 40.635 but pulling an unfortunate rail in the process.
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson of Jupiter, Florida, and Akuna Mattata were up, galloping faster than the rest in 40.177 and fault free for the lead.
Haylie Rolfe with Caretina II, Derek Braun and Lacarolus and Colin Syqua with Adventure E, all tried to capture the leader but sacrificed rails dropping while trying to catch her. Shahinian-Simpson had a second ride, April Moon, but could not outdo her performance on Akuna Mattata, the winner.
Akuna Mattata is one of a set of Holsteiner triplets, using surrogate mares, out of Shahinian-Simpson’s mare SRF Drangonfly, who she won the 2008 Olympic Trials on. She has raised the triplets herself, with this win being extra special as the first win for the eight-year-olds. April Moon, another one of the sisters, finished in 7th.
“This is just an amazing event with all the work they put into it and the amazing sponsors,” boasted Shahinian-Simpson. “It’s a special event and you’re wanted and welcomed from the way they provide for the grooms and for us and the attendance, really makes it really special. It was great to give these younger horses some mileage to see how they react to a big event like this."

David Jennings and Blue Moon 22 rode to the second place spot. Photo Chicago Equestrian.

Second place rider David Jennings commented, “Evergreen was one of the nicest classes I think I have ever done. Everything from the people who run the show, the food, the stabling, footing, ring size, jumps, etc., I can’t speak enough about how nice it was. I only wish there were more shows like this one. I want to especially thank the owners of the show for putting it on. If they are going to have it again in another two years, I will be there!”

Angel Karolyi and Indiana 127 took home the third place ribbon. Photo Chicago Equestrian

Third place rider Angel Karolyi, Wellington, Florida, added, “We are lucky to have people like this supporting the sport at a beautiful venue, we can’t thank them enough. Kenny (Krome) did a beautiful job there’s not enough show jumping in the grass these days. It’s a totally different style of riding than in the all weather footing. It was fun riding on the grass and for a great cause, what more could you ask for?”

Caelinn Leahy and Caribe won the SJHOF Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic. Photo Chicago Equestrian. 

The morning featured the $25,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur Owner Classic sponsored by the Kovas Family. A field of 15 riders braved the scattered showers for the chance to ride on the gorgeous field. Five horse and rider combinations left all the jumps up, earning the chance to put their name at the top of the leader board.

Annabella Sanchez and Zanta Fee T Hofterruckel finished in second in the SJHOF Junior/Amateur Classic. Photo Chicago Equestrian.

Annabella Sanchez,15, of Glencoe, Illinois, qualified both her rides for the jump off along with Caelinn Leahy and Caribe, Emma Sargent and Didgeridoo and Tara Gallagher and Brightly. Sanchez had two shots to gallop to the fastest time but Leahy, 14, of Maple Park, Illinois, had the luck of the draw to go last and the advantage to know what she had to beat. Known for her fast jump offs like trainer Steve Schaefer, Leahy put the pedal to the metal to take the lead by over 2 ½ seconds for the win.

VIP ticket holders enjoy a fantastic brunch while enjoying the excitement of the Grand Prix. Photo Chicago Equestrian.

“This event is phenomenal and the sponsors are amazing,” said Leahy. “This was my first time here. The footing felt great so the rain really didn’t faze me. Annabella (Sanchez) had great rounds so it was the luck of the draw that I got to watch her before I went in and I knew what I had to do. I decided while I was on course to do the five strides instead of the six which worked out well.”
Leahy has eased her way into the Grand Prix arenas this year, riding in many of the 1.30m Grand Prix classes offered now. She has two other jumpers she rides, Esquilino Bay and Tztargazer and also just took over her mother’s horse, Sonas Douglas.
“It was good for my horses. I wanted to keep them confident before going to WEF,” said Sanchez.  “I was really focused so the rain didn’t bother me. I didn’t want to go too fast on the first horse but I knew I could go faster on my second horse.   This was an amazing event! It’s so beautiful, I hope we come back again.”
Sanchez, who rides with Katie Kappler, finished in second on Zanta Fee T Hofterruckel and third on Zersina.

VIP ticket holders are treated to the Promenade of Shops featuring high-end clothiers, gourmet food purveyors and other upscale merchants, valet parking and an exquisite gourmet meal with cocktails. It is the most sought after social ticket in the Chicago area.
Since its inception, funds raised by the Evergreen Invitational have been granted to support 63 projects and programs bringing new, innovative healthcare ideas to Northwestern Memorial Healthcare.
For more information on the event, visit
Special thanks to the 2016 sponsors:
Founding Sponsor - J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation
Presenting Sponsor - The Wood-Prince Family
Gold Medal Sponsor - The Cressey Family Foundation
Junior/Amateur Owner Classic Sponsor - The Kovas Family
Automotive Sponsor - Ferrari North America with Lake Forest Sportscars
Silver Medal Sponsor - Joan and Charles Moore
For a complete list of sponsors, please visit
Evergreen Farm
Kate Geraldi
14000 128th St.
Kenosha, WI 53142
Pl  #  Horse                                                    Rider                                                    Faults    Time      Faults    Time
1   199 AKUNA MATTATA                           NICOLE SHAHINIAN-SIMPSON   84.838              40.177
2   340 BLUE MOON 22                                DAVID JENNINGS                      85.861              41.995
3   239 INDIANA 127                                     ANGEL KAROLYI                        87.027       4      40.635

4   334 ADVENTURE E                                COLIN SYQUIA                           89.976       8      43.080
5   289 CARETINA III                                    HAYLIE ROLFE                           89.131       8      49.513
6   314 LACAROLUS                                     DEREK BRAUN                          88.133      12      41.612
7   266 APRIL MOON                                    NICOLE SHAHINIAN-SIMP       87.456                  RT

8   360 CLIMBUS                                           NICK NOVAK                                                4     84.618                   
9   310 BACHELOR 4                                    FREDDIE VAZQUEZ                                     4     86.228                   
10  287 PLAYBOY                                          CHARLIE JAYNE                                         4     86.490                   
11  247 ANNA                                                ANGEL KAROLYI                                            4     87.015                   

12  339 AVENTADOR                                   DAVID JENNINGS                                          4     90.999

Pl  #  Horse                                                    Rider                           Faults    Time      Faults    Time
1   387 CARIBE                            CAELINN LEAHY                                     78.596              38.470
2   345 ZANTA FEE VAN T         ANNABELLA SANCHEZ                              88.651              41.120
3   343 ZERSINA                         ANNABELLA SANCHEZ                             84.910              42.830

4   391 DIDGERIDOO                 EMMA SARGENT                                       90.623       4      51.640
5   204 BRIGHTLY                       TARA GALLAGHER GALLAG                        87.426      23      66.219
6   299 JERICHO                         PAUL YANKE                              4     82.112                   
7   303 CHALCO                          JENNIFER MORTON                 4     91.953                   
8   341 QUARTUS                       MARY KATHERINE HARGRE    4     92.290                   
9   381 SONAS DOUGLAS         CAELINN LEAHY                         8     81.380                   
10  332 BELVUE BEN                 SARA KEMPER                          12    95.347                   

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