Twenty-five-year-old American rider Zazou Hoffman topped the field in the $25,000 SmartPak Open Prix on Friday, March 3, 2017 during Week VI of the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit in Thermal, California.
This win follows closely on the heels of Hoffman’s first ever grand prix win in the $25,000 SmartPak Open Prix during Week III of the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit.
The Santa Monica, CA based Hoffman rode Woodacre Stables’ W Zermie 13, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Rupert R. x N. Zermie 4) to the win. Forty-four challengers entered the arena, but Hoffman was one of only six to go double clear in the class.
In the jumpoff, she crossed the timers in 42.81. Half a second separated her from Eric Navet and Basimodo with a jump off time of 43.35. Third place finishers Michelle Parker and Vancouver 45 had a jump off time of 44.070, only 0.04 seconds faster than her 4th place finishing mount Cupilor.
It seemed that success came in pairs in this class as both Navet and Parker piloted two mounts each to secure the top five placings. Navet claimed 2nd place aboard Basimodo and 5th aboard Catypso. Parker rode her Vancouver 45 and Cupilor to 3rd and 4th place, respectively. Even Hoffman seemed to follow the trend as her second entry in the class Sampson II rounded out the ribbons with an 8th place finish.
Hoffman’s success this season at HITS Coachella is the result of years of hard work, and her recent wins are just a few things to add to an already impressive resume. A graduate of UCLA and former equestrian journalist, Hoffman has over 15 years of experience in the show ring. In this time she has accomplished a string of impressive wins. In her final junior year she won the 2009 ASPCA Maclay Final Championship, and more recently Hoffman was the recipient the 2016 North American Riders Group Rider’s Grant, meant to support riders toward achieving levels of performance otherwise not attainable.
Hoffman credits her success to her team of trainers, Dick Carvin and Susie Schroer of Meadow Grove Farm, and client supporters such as Saree Kayne who have given her the opportunity to compete at the grand prix level. She feels their support has been indispensable and is the biggest reason for her current momentum. Hoffman knows this kind of momentum can happen to riders.
“It’s really nice if you get on a roll,” she said. “You get some confidence and you really go in feeling like you totally can win. You can go fast enough to beat those good riders. On these winter circuits like this when you show in the same place week after week it makes it easier to gain that momentum. You can step right into a bigger class and go for a win.”
Hoffman points to some great advice she received from trainer Carvin; “I was at Spruce Meadows and I was really trying to win a big class,” she relayed. “He kept telling me you have to keep trying for the time and a clear round will come with the time. It’s really important to keep pushing yourself to ride fast and not just try to back away from those winning times.”
Pushing herself is just what Hoffman plans to do. Her goals for the remaining HITS Coachella circuit include competing in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix. She’s hoping to be placed with not one but two qualified horses.
Not unlike when Will Simpson set an unprecedented, record number of grand prix wins at HITS Coachella in 2015, Hoffman now has a chance to prove she is a force to be reckoned with. With several grand prix classes still to come this circuit, the grand finale of which being the coveted AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, she might be peaking at just the right moment. What is it they say about good things? They always come in threes.