Tag Archives: Richard Spooner

Longines Streak Continues for Nassar and Lordan in Las Vegas

Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Lordan. (FEI/Andrew Ryback)

Just a week after topping the World Cup qualifier in Thermal (USA), Nayel Nassar (EGY) and his longtime partner Lordan led another victory gallop after clinching the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas (USA).

Nassar, 27, and his 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding were fastest in a six-horse jump-off set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA). The pair used their natural foot speed and tidiness to their advantage, coming through the timers in 34.57 seconds, over a second fastest than their closest competitors. It was an international podium, with Wilhelm Genn (GER) and Bugatti earning runner-up honors (35.73 seconds) and Harley Brown (AUS) and Mylord Cornet finishing third (40.34 seconds).

“It was a fast jump-off,” Nassar said. “Wilhelm set a really tough time to beat, and he was really efficient everywhere on a horse that has a bigger stride than mine. I just knew I had to be nice and neat in the turns and not go too crazy down the long lines.”

“It was a fast jump-off… Wilhelm set a really tough time to beat… I just knew I had to be nice and neat in the turns and not go too crazy down the long lines.” — Nayel Nassar (Egypt)

The top three were the only combinations to turn in double-clear rounds on the evening. Brown was the first to navigate the jump-off without fault, but he was forced to take a more conservative route with his less experienced 8-year-old. Genn, who won Sacramento’s (USA) World Cup qualifier in October, jumped ahead by nearly four seconds with an outstanding right turn to the jump-off’s second fence and a bold gallop down to the final obstacle. As the last to go, Nassar knew exactly what he had to do to win his second straight World Cup qualifier, and he executed, despite having a precarious rub two fences from home.

“I had the luck of the draw a little bit. I had the pole position coming in,” Nassar said. “It always helps when you know what you need to do, and I relish the pressure as well. Lordan can feel that, too; I was getting tingly walking in [the ring], and he really tried his heart out.”

Shifting Standings

Richard Spooner (USA) may have been kept off the podium, but he took over the lead in the west coast sub league standings of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League with his fourth-place finish aboard Quirado RC. He now boasts 49 points, one ahead of Eve Jobs (USA). Nassar moved up to third in the standings; he now boasts 46 points.

“[Quirado RC] is just knocking my socks off,” Spooner said. “He’s been unbelievable in the World Cup season. He’s a huge horse — he’s about 18.1, maybe 18.2 hands — but he somehow is still very elastic with his body. I just feel graced every time I get to ride him, because the power that you feel with that horse is absolutely awesome.”

Genn took over second in the east coast sub league standings, behind only Molly Ashe Cawley’s (USA) league leading 55 points. Genn has 47 points, one ahead of defending World Cup Champion Beezie Madden (USA).

“Bugatti is 12, and every year when I take him to a new level, and I think it is about as big as he can jump, he surprises me and makes it work,” Genn said. “Who knows what the future brings? I’m super proud of him.”

After a brief holiday, the North American League resumes in Guadalajara (MEX) on 26 January 2019.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 46

Richard Spooner and Chatinus Claim Longines Victory

Photo: Richard Spooner and Chatinus (FEI/Amy McCool)

The old adage claims that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but it will be hard to keep secret the talent of Richard Spooner’s (USA) new equine star, Chatinus. Spooner piloted the 10-year-old Hanoverian to the gelding’s first World Cup qualifier victory in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas (USA).

“I’m just very optimistic for the future with this horse. It’s just absolutely blowing my mind!” — Richard Spooner (USA)

Spooner defeated Alison Robitaille (USA) and Serise du Bidou to claim the top check, outpacing that duo’s time by nearly three seconds. First to go in a select jump-off field of three, Robitaille and her mount crossed the timers in 40.20 seconds; Spooner and Chatinus finished in 37.30 seconds. Karrie Rufer (USA) and Georgie d’Auvray EC, the only other combination to advance to the shortened track, finished in the third position. Last to go and Spooner to catch, Rufer elected to retire after her mount pulled a rail, but it was still a career-best finish for the amateur rider, who was competing in just the second World Cup qualifying competition of her career.

The course designed by Oscar Soberón (MEX) made for great show jumping, as the crowd on hand was on the edge of their seats waiting for a clear round. They did not get one until 21 horse and rider pairs had competed, but they did not have to wait much longer for a second: The west coast audience showed their appreciation when fan favorite Spooner, 24th to go, guaranteed a jump-off. A total of 29 competitors jumped in Round 1.

“I stuck with my plan. I walked the course and just did what my original plan was, and it worked out!” — Richard Spooner (USA)

Spooner now sits atop the standings of the west coast sub league of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League with 58 points. Robitaille leads the east coast sub league standings; she has 52 points.

“For me, it’s unfamiliar ground to have a horse that just kind of goes in the ring and is just like an ATM machine at this point!” Spooner said of Chatinus, whom he has only had since the summer. Chatinus also posted top five finishes in World Cup qualifiers at Sacramento (USA) and Del Mar (USA) this season.

The next event on the North American League will take place in Guadalajara (MEX) on Saturday, 27 January 2018.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 46

Richard Spooner and Cristallo Repeat Victory in CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby at Spruce Meadows

Richard Spooner and Cristallo. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.

Calgary, AB, Canada – One of the most challenging competitions at the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby always has plenty of drama for spectators. Sunday was no different as Richard Spooner (USA) and Cristallo won for the second year in a row and third time in their careers. Lisa Carlsen (CAN) and Worlds Judgement finished second, while Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Ridley were third.

In the ATCO Classic 1.45m, Conor Swail took the win aboard Cenzo. Sunday’s competitions marked the end of the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex. It was another incredible week of turnout at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, with 34,561 in attendance on the final day and 79,455 throughout the week.

The Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ Tournament runs June 15-19 with more top CSI 5* show jumping competition, featuring the Scotiabank Cup 1.55m on Friday, June 17, the Repsol Cup 1.50m on Saturday, June 18, and the highlight competition, the CP Grand Prix, on Sunday, June 19.

There were 15 entries in the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby, and 12 completed the course. The course, which was designed by Leopoldo Palacios nine years ago, is the same each year. The test of endurance and stamina asks questions at a variety of jumps, including double liverpools, the table bank, the derby bank, and the Devil’s Dyke. There are 19 numbered obstacles and 25 jumping efforts on course. While the derby has been held since 1990, the course changed in 2007. Since then, there have only been three clear rounds.

The early pacesetter was Irishman Daniel Coyle on Ridley, a 10-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding (Ustinov x Adiantus AS) owned by Susan Grange. They just missed joining the jump-off as they had four jumping faults and one time fault in 166.91 seconds. They would finish in third place.

Coyle only recently traveled to the United States for a job through Conor Swail and Barry O’Connor, so his relationship with Ridley is a new one. But he has experience in derby competition, having competed in the Hickstead Derby for the last three years.

“I never won it or came close to winning it, but I always loved doing it,” he said of the Hickstead Derby. “I actually hadn’t planned to jump this class on the horse. We thought maybe it would be too much for him; he’s only nine and only just getting to this level. When I heard there wasn’t an awful lot in it, I said we might as well try. It’s his type of thing. He’s so quiet and does absolutely everything you ask of him. He’s a brilliant horse for these types of classes. He’s a real trier; he’ll try every time. I’m really glad now that we jumped him in it.”

Eleven trips later, it was Lisa Carlsen and Worlds Judgement, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Judgement, a horse that Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden rode to victory in this same event three years in a row in 2006-2008. Their four faults in the first round in 158.74 seconds put them into the lead.

When asked about Worlds Judgement’s lineage, Carlsen remarked, “She’ll eventually win it three times too, I think. She’s going to live up to her father. This is her class. It will be in the future. I think she’s just going to learn as she goes a little bit. She’s made the mistake at that Devil’s Dyke (twice). Last year we came in too fast and had it in front, and this year it was slow and we had it behind. She keeps learning as she’s doing it. I think eventually I’ll be sitting there (as the winner) and Richard will be sitting here.”

Spooner and Cristallo went last and had a rail for four faults in 162.45 seconds to tie Carlsen and force a jump-off.

Carlsen and Worlds Judgement returned for the jump-off first and had electric speed from the start. In a short rollback to the “Canadian flag planks” jump, they had a slip, and the horse was unable to get her feet under her to clear the fence. They finished with four faults in a very fast 42.89 seconds.

“She really lost her balance in the corner to the plank, which was unfortunate,” Carlsen said. “But that’s the shot you take when you go that fast. [Richard is] fast; he could outrun me. My strategy was basically to make him chase me, go clean, and hope he makes a mistake.”

Spooner went in knowing that he could go slower for a clear round and the win, and that was exactly what he did. They were clear in 52.38 seconds for victory.

“When I watched [Lisa] go, I was sweating,” Spooner admitted. “I was deeply concerned as fast as she was going. It was not going to be so easy. I got lucky.”

Spooner described Cristallo as a bird in a horse’s body. He said, “All that horse wants to do is fly.

“Lisa left the door open for me by having the rail. I made the decision just to chicken-peck my way around and take my time. But if you have one down anywhere on the course with that strategy, your goose is cooked…I’m done with my fowl jokes,” he laughed.

Cristallo, an 18-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Caretino x Cicero) owned by Show Jumping Syndication Intl, shows no signs of slowing down as he repeated his derby victory at Spruce Meadows. They also won the competition in 2012, and competed for the first time in the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby in 2006.

“On the ground he’s as sweet as can be, and he doesn’t want to go anywhere. When you get on him, he wants to go everywhere,” Spooner said. “In the prize giving, he basically ran away with me. I had to pull up so I wasn’t lapping my fellow competitors.”

The love that Spooner has for Cristallo is obvious and shows when he talks about the horse.

“That horse has meant so much to me and done so much for me,” he expressed. “At this point in his career, every time we have a round period, let alone a successful round, it really strikes a chord in me. He’s been a huge part of my life, my family’s life, for over a decade. I just look forward to every ride on him.”

Swail Continues Winning Streak

Conor Swail of Ireland continued his streak of leading the victory gallop at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex, when he topped the ATCO Classic 1.45m with Cenzo, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Harley VDL x Cavalier), owned by Ilan Ferder and Tal Milstein.

Conor Swail and Cenzo
Conor Swail and Cenzo

Swail was the last to go in a jump-off of 15, out of an original starting order of 39. The leading time was set early in the jump-off by Antonio Chedraui (MEX) on Corcega La Silla, who finished in 36.07 seconds. Swail and Cenzo sped around the course and won with a time of 35.56 seconds.

Swail had never gone that fast with Cenzo before, he said. “The plan was to run and try to keep it as smooth as possible,” he continued. “His left turn is not as good as is right, so the turn back to the Rolex (jump) I thought would be too slow for me to be the winner, but he actually did that quite good. I got a lot of time up to the last. He cut in and raced hard at it and jumped it really well.”

Third place went to Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Acita with a time of 36.61 seconds. Leslie Howard (USA) and Up & Blue Chapelle were fourth in 37.11 seconds, while Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Fortis Fortuna were fifth in 37.23 seconds.

Swail started riding Cenzo this past winter in the 1.30m Jumpers and had moved up to the 1.45m division by the end of the winter circuit. He competed in Mexico before trying his hand at Spruce Meadows.

“He’s got a little bit of mileage,” Swail said. “He’s a little bit difficult in the mouth, but very careful. He’s a good jumper. He scared himself a little bit in the 1.50m the last time he was out, so that was a great comeback for him.

Cenzo will stay competing at the Summer Series for the four weeks of tournaments to further his education and gain consistency.

“We want to improve the rideability,” Swail explained. “That’s why we’re here at Spruce Meadows, to try and collect prize money, jump clear rounds, and work on things that need to be improved. It’s a great place to be to do that.”

The Spruce Meadows Summer Series continues with the ‘Continental’ tournament on June 15-19.

For full results and schedule, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

Spruce Meadows Media Services

Jennifer Wood
Jump Media

Richard Spooner and Big Red Bring Home Clears for U.S. Show Jumping Team

Richard Spooner and Big Red. Photo By: Anwar Esquivel.

Xalapa, Mexico – May4, 2016 – After a two year absence, California born and raised Richard Spooner, near the top of the list of America’s most successful grand prix riders, has brought his winning ways back home. Spooner plans to spend more time focusing on helping the United States win Championships and Nations Cups, and he thinks he has just the horse to make that happen.

A longing to compete for the red, white and blue has brought Spooner back to American shores and a pairing with the aptly named, Big Red, a new mount that Spooner feels is championship caliber. Big Red, owned by Gerardo Pasqual, “is the real deal,” according to Spooner.

On his first United States team assignment this year, the FEI Nations Cup in Xalapa, Mexico, Spooner and Big Red were double clear for the home team to earn a hard-fought second place tie for the United States.

Big Red jumped brilliantly and was very consistent as the partnership continues to grow and get stronger. Just a couple of weeks after gaining the ride on Big Red, Spooner galloped home with an exciting third place finish in the $200,000 Longines World Cup Grand Prix at the Wellington Masters in South Florida.

Big Red is a horse with unlimited potential and with championship ability according to Spooner, who said after his double clear in Mexico, “He has all the scope and all the talent. I haven’t sat on many horses like him, and I am very excited about where this partnership could go. He is the type of horse that can really excel at a championship event.”

“On Friday, we knew the stakes were high and Big Red was ready to perform,” added Spooner. “There were a few tough questions on the track and he answered them all perfectly. I am thrilled with the way he jumped and excited that our scores were able to help the Team. I only brought one horse to this event and we were totally focused on the Nations Cup, ready to deliver a great performance.”

As United States Show Jumping continues to develop into one of the strongest and most consistent programs in the world, having a veteran superstar like Spooner mounted on fresh, new and exciting horses, could be a perfect fit. Having competed at almost every major international show across the globe, Spooner’s ability to communicate and impart his vast experience to his teammates is a valuable asset as the United States program continues to grow.

The next goal for Spooner and Big Red will be the Nations Cup event during the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament later this year.

“I want to help America continue to be at the top of the sport and I am excited to contribute to that by participating in Nations Cups and other team events,” Spooner said. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work!”

Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Phelps Media Group, Inc.
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)

USEF Names Hermès US Show Jumping Team for CSIO4* Coapexpan

From left to right: Richard Spooner, Jonathan McCrea, Ali Wolff, and Christine McCrea.

Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the athlete-and-horse combinations who will represent the United States on the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team in Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup competition at CSIO4* Coapexpan, in Coapexpan, Mexico, April 28 through May 1, 2016.

The following athletes and horses will represent the United States (listed alphabetically):

Christine McCrea (East Windsor, Conn.) with Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables’ Dynamo, a 2003 Belgian Warmblood gelding

Jonathan McCrea (East Windsor, Conn.) with Candy Tribble’s Special Lux, a 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding

Richard Spooner (Agua Dulce, Calif.) with Gerardo and Alfonso Pasquel’s Big Red, a 2005 Warmblood gelding

Ali Wolff (New Albany, Ohio) with her and John Wolff’s Quirie 2, a 2007 German Warmblood gelding

Robert Ridland will serve as Chef d’Equipe.

AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: USEF Communications Department

Richard Spooner and Chivas Z Win $86k Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at WEF 7

Richard Spooner and Chivas Z. Photos copyright Sportfot.

Sarah Bian Rides to Top of THIS Children’s Medal 15-17

Wellington, FL – February 28, 2016 – Week seven of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Suncast®, concluded on Sunday featuring the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. The win went to Richard Spooner (USA) aboard Little Valley Farms’ Chivas Z, with Eduardo Menezes (BRA) and Caruschka 2 in second, and Eric Lamaze (CAN) aboard Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Rosana du Park in third. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.

Santiago Varela of Spain was the course designer in the International Ring for week seven’s competition. Varela concluded the week with 75 entries in the 1.50m class and 25 clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. In the tiebreaker, 11 entries jumped double clear rounds, the fastest of which belonged to Richard Spooner and the 17-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Chivas Z (Cumano x Lord Gotthard).

The second through sixth place finishers all clocked in within the 39-second mark, while Spooner was the only rider to break through to a time of 38.67 seconds for the win. Menezes and Carushka 2 finished second on their time of 39.32 seconds. Lamaze and Rosana du Park were just behind with the third place time of 39.35 seconds. Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Stephex Stables’ Egano van het Slogenhof finished fourth in 39.55 seconds. Laura Kraut (USA) and Star and Stripes’ Andretti S placed fifth in 39.64 seconds, and Lamaze and his second mount, Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Check Picobello Z, crossed the timers in 39.85 seconds to finish sixth.

Speaking of his round on the short course, Spooner detailed, “It was just top speed. With that many in the jump-off and that many fast riders, there is not a lot of thought work that goes into it, which is good for me actually. It suits my brain. The horse was just absolutely fantastic. I am really proud of him. He has been spectacular the whole time here.”

“He went clear in one of the other Suncast® classes, and I made a bit of a mistake to the liverpool in the jump-off,” Spooner continued. “I just went too fast, and then today I was a bit nervous about doing it again, but today I slowed down for about half a stride before the liverpool and that suited him just fine. He just does not like to hit liverpools full hack, so the fact that I was able to do a little half-halt before the liverpool made it work, and it made the turn to the combination very quick. I would say he really gave me a present, a gift, at the last jump in the jump-off because a) I was on an angle, b) I was going too fast, and c) he does not love the gap and I did that as well. It was also away from the back gate. Everything said, ‘Do not jump this jump,’ and he did it, so my hat is off to him today.”

At 17 years of age, Chivas Z has been around the world, and Spooner is happy to have such a dependable horse in his stable. He explained that it does not take any special care to keep his veteran mount going at the top level.

“He is just kind of a fresh horse. Knock on wood – he is a real solid horse physically and mentally. He is just a good egg,” Spooner stated. “It is a horse that I got very late in his career. I got him when he was about 15, so he had already had a career before I came along. I had known him for a long time. Ashlee Bond had him for all those years, and I always had a real affinity for him and a desire to have an opportunity to ride him. When he was older and I saw the opportunity to buy him, I really did not care what the ultimate result was going to be. It was just a horse I always wanted, so for him to do this for me at this point, it really means a lot to me.”

Speaking of the courses set by Santiago Varela this week, Spooner remarked, “I think he did a wonderful job. I thought last night’s grand prix was incredibly difficult, which it should have been. Funny enough, when I walked the course today, I thought, ‘Wow, that is a big 1.50m!’ It was big, and it was tricky. This is a great field of horses and riders, and this place brings out top-notch sport from top riders and top horses. Any time you win here it is a good day, so I have to say, this was a good day.”

Spooner tries to show his horses two weeks on and two weeks off to keep them fresh and happy, so Chivas Z will compete again next week and then get a break. The gelding has some vision issues, so he does not usually compete in the night classes. Instead, Spooner continues to aim him at the week’s 1.45m FEI World Ranking classes and the Suncast® 1.50m classes during the day.

“I am lucky with the format here at WEF because there are some good prize money classes during the day,” Spooner noted. “He gets to come out and jump 1.50m instead of 1.55m, which is really nice for him, especially at his age. I have been trying to do him on that second tour with the 1.45m and 1.50m classes because I felt that if I placed him there that he could have quite a bit of success. I have Big Red and Cristallo also here this year for the bigger classes, so it is nice for Chivas to get to take a deep breath and get some good wins. He was fantastic the third week here as well. He has had a lot of good placings, so he does not owe me anything, and I am just proud of everything he gives me.”

Also competing in the International Ring on Sunday, the win in the $10,000 Sleepy P Ranch High Junior Jumper Classic went to Emma Heise and Old Willow Farms’ Viper Vrombautshoeve Z. The $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic saw a win for Madison Goetzmann and Coral Reef Wise Guy.

Following McLain Ward’s exciting win in Saturday night’s $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5*, the groom of winning horse, HH Azur, received a special award. Kirsty Bond accepted the Groom’s Initiative Award presented by Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, to reward her dedication and hard work as an integral member of the winning team.

Sarah Bian Rides to Top of THIS Children’s Medal 15-17

Sarah Bian won the THIS Children’s Medal 15-17, sponsored by Taylor Harris Insurance Services, on Sunday morning in Ring 8. A competitive field of 30 horse and rider combinations competed over a first round course in the hopes of earning one of the five slots for the second round test.

Sarah Bian and Wodan
Sarah Bian and Wodan

Bian, of Washington State, has ridden with trainer Cara Anthony at Potcreek Meadow Farm for seven years. A tenth grade student at the Forest Ridge School, Bian was the fourth rider to challenge the test course aboard her own Wodan, who is a 13-year-old Warmblood gelding. A solid and effective performance over the shorter course propelled Bian to the top of the class and secured her the blue ribbon.

“I thought today went really well,” Bian said. “I felt I was really connected with my horse and that we were working together as a team.”

The first course proved to be a challenging one for the exhibitors. Bian earned a 79 in the first round, which was the second highest score. “I thought my first round was pretty good, but it could have used some work,” Bian said.

Bian came back in the second round with the goal of improving upon her first round. “Having my pace, being with my horse, and being relaxed and riding in the moment,” is what Bian said set her apart from the rest of the pack.

Bian takes her equestrian pursuits seriously, focusing all of her free time on riding. She will spend three weeks at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year, competing in the 15-17 equitation divisions and the Children’s Jumpers. “I like the equitation divisions the most,” Bian remarked.

The 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its eighth week of competition running March 2-6, 2016, featuring CSIO 4* jumper and “AA” rated hunter divisions. The week will highlight the $150,000 FEI Nations’ Cup on the evening of Friday, March 4. The Hollow Creek Farm FEI Children’s, Junior and Young Rider Nations’ Cups will be featured on Saturday, March 5. The $216,000 Lugano Diamonds CSIO 4* Grand Prix will conclude the week on Sunday, March 6. For more information and full results, please visit www.pbiec.com.

Lauren Fisher and Callie Seaman for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Richard Spooner and Chivas Z Win $85,000 ASHCOR Technologies Cup at Spruce Meadows

Richard Spooner of USA riding Chivas Z. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.

Eduardo Menezes Tops $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup

Calgary, AB, Canada – July 10, 2015 – USA’s Richard Spooner jumped to victory aboard his own Chivas Z in the $85,000 ASHCOR Technologies Cup on Friday of the ‘Pan American’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, at Spruce Meadows. Friday’s competition also included a $34,000 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m competition with a win for Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes and Carushka 2. The ‘Pan American’ Tournament continues with world-class show jumping through Sunday, July 12.

Guilherme Jorge (BRA) is the course designer in the Meadows on the Green this week and set the 1.55m track for 43 starters in the $85,000 ASHCOR Technologies Cup. Fifteen entries jumped clear over the first round course and 14 returned for round two.

Speed was key for a win over Jorge’s jump-off track, but rails fell for many entries on the way to the finish line, and only four combinations cleared the short course without fault. Spooner and Chivas Z, a 16-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Cumano x Lord Gotthard), crossed the timers in 36.97 seconds for the win despite an unconventional finish.

“The jump-off started off fantastic actually and ended with a major chocolate chip,” Spooner laughed. “I absolutely missed to the last jump. I wanted to do one less stride, and then at the last minute I realized that there was a snowball’s chance in hell that we were going to get there. I just kind of dropped the reins and closed my eyes, hoped for the best and sat back so that if something bad happened I wasn’t the first person at the scene of the accident. Somehow he jumped it clear and we were fast enough in the beginning that even with the debacle in the end, we ended up with the win.”

Hardin Towell (USA) and Jennifer Gates’ Emilie de Diamant AS finished second in 39.15 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) and Kessler Show Stables’ Cylana placed third in 40.78 seconds, and Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) and Mario Onate’s Whin Whin took fourth with a time of 42.74 seconds. Coming in fifth, McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z had the fastest time of the day in 36.63 seconds, but dropped a rail at the last jump.

Spooner explained that Chivas Z is not typically the kind of horse that would save the day in a tricky situation like that.

“Not at all actually,” the rider remarked. “The horse is very careful and quite sensitive, and we have been working through little issues, so the fact that he did that for me today – I am flabbergasted and quite impressed with his willingness to carry on even with my gross negligence.”

“He is a wonderful horse,” Spooner added. “He is really sweet and loving. He is a little bit of a nervous-type, a little spooky here and there, but that is what makes him so careful at 16 years old. I have just been so impressed with him during this circuit. He just continues to wow me.”

Menezes Gets a Win for Brazil

Friday’s international competition in the Meadows on the Green got underway with the $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m and a win for Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes and Carushka 2. The competition saw 53 entries, with 15 advancing to the jump-off and six double clear rounds. Menezes and Carushka 2 were second to go and completed a fast, clear round in 37.28 seconds that would prove unbeatable.

Brianne Goutal (USA) and Remarkable Farms’ Ballade van het Indihof jumped into second place in 37.61 seconds. Thursday’s winners, Pablo Barrios (VEN) and Emanuel Andrade’s Fananka A had another great day, finishing third with their time of 37.91 seconds.

Eduardo Menezes of BRA riding Carushka 2
Eduardo Menezes of BRA riding Carushka 2

Carushka 2 is an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Caspar x Continue) that Menezes has owned for three years.

“She is a winning machine,” the rider described. “She always goes clean and she is super fast, so she is a really fun horse to have for these 1.45m and 1.50m competitions. She is super careful; she jumps clean in 90% of her competitions, so she is a great horse.”

Detailing his jump-off round, Menezes stated, “We know already here at Spruce Meadows that all jump-offs are super fast. They are even faster when you have 15 plus riders in the jump-off, so my plan was to go as fast as possible. I know that I can count on her to go clean, so I was just trying to focus on my job and fortunately everything worked fine for us.”

“We are always pleased to come here,” Menezes added. “I have been coming here now for 15 years and we love it. The sport is always great and we are happy to be here.”

Menezes will jump one more 1.45m competition on Saturday and then heads to Toronto, where he will represent Brazil at the Pan American Games with his top horse, Quintol.

Competition continues at the ‘Pan American’ Tournament on Saturday featuring the $34,000 McDaniel & Associates Cup 1.50m as well as another $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m.

For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Spruce Meadows Media Services

Spooner Wins It All on Final Day of ‘National’ Tournament CSI 5*

Richard Spooner and Cristallo. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.

Richard Spooner Tops $210,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup 1.50m Derby with Cristallo as Well as $40,000 ATCO Structures & Logistics Cup with Chivas Z

Calgary, AB, Canada – June 7, 2015 – The ‘National’ Tournament CSI 5*, presented by Rolex, concluded at Spruce Meadows on Sunday with a clean sweep for USA’s Richard Spooner in both of the day’s features competitions. Spooner began the day with a win in the $40,000 ATCO Structures & Logistics Cup 1.45m aboard his own Chivas Z and continued on to victory in the $210,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup 1.50m Derby aboard Show Jumping Syndication International’s Cristallo.

Watch highlights from Sunday’s competition!

It was record attendance for derby day at this year’s ‘National’ Tournament, with 41,089 spectators in the stands to witness one of the sport’s most exciting events. Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios designed the derby course for Spruce Meadows eight years ago with a demanding 19 numbered obstacles and 25 jumping efforts. It is an incredible test of endurance and stamina for both horse and rider, including double liverpools, a table bank, a 26-foot, steep derby bank, and the Devil’s Dyke.

The course is the same for every derby competition and has only seen three clear entries out 179 starters since it was first set in 2007. Beezie Madden (USA) cleared the course twice aboard Judgement, the first year in 2007 and again in 2008. Pablo Barrios (VEN) went without fault in 2010 with G&C Sinatra. As has happened so many times before, not a single entry out of 25 was able to clear the course without fault on Sunday.

Spooner and Cristallo won on four faults, with one rail down going into the Devil’s Dyke and a time of 162.88 seconds. Returning champions, Quentin Judge (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Dark de la Hart, finished second with two rails down in 154.03 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) and Juan Pablo Betancourt’s Troya Retiro finished third, also with two rails down, in a time of 162.03 seconds.

Spooner and Cristallo also won the competition in 2012, finishing with an impressive clear jumping effort, but one time fault. This time around, the 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Caretino x Cicero) had no problem with the clock.

Speaking about Cristallo’s ride, Spooner noted, “He has a lot of experience. He is the oldest horse in the field and he probably has twice as much experience as a lot of the horses out there. He has so much blood that he basically just runs away with me the whole time. The whole time I’m out there, I am begging and pleading for him to slow down, whereas everybody else is having to push and pull, and push and pull. I like to get pulled rather than pushing. I am really fond of the fact that he just kind of gets going and then I ride the wave.”

“I do not worry about the faults; it is just holding him that is the problem,” Spooner added. “I was working pretty hard out there. I was quite exhausted actually when I came out because he is very, very strong. Every year I think he is going to get a little softer, but that has not happened yet.”

At 17 years of age, Cristallo stays in a strict fitness program to remain in shape and burn off some of that excess energy, which also helps with his stamina on the demanding derby course.

“He works probably harder now than he did when he was younger,” Spooner detailed. “I think it was Jack LaLanne that said, ‘As I get twice as old, I have to work twice as hard to stay half as fit.’ Cristallo works really heard. He lunges in the morning. He probably lunged for 45 minutes this morning, and he worked hard yesterday and the day before. He is just constantly working and it seems to suit him. He likes it. If I do not work him, he is totally out of his mind.”

Commenting on another exciting win, Spooner stated, “I have always enjoyed derbies around the world. The derby is fun because it is exciting and I like feeling the palpable energy that you get from the audience.”

Quentin Judge and HH Dark de la Hart
Quentin Judge and HH Dark de la Hart

Returning as the defending champion, Quentin Judge really wanted a repeat victory, but finished second after rails came down jumping into the Devil’s Dyke as well as the second to last fence. Judge explained that his initial plan with trainer McLain Ward was to go clear, but after the first rail came down, he made an error.

“I had a huge mistake,” Judge explained. “Last year we jumped off with eight faults and I did not realize that the eight-faulters would jump-off. I thought I would be the fastest with eight faults like a normal class. So last year McLain and I spoke, and he said that if I had one down to go inside to the second to last jump and if I was clear, go around. That was a bit in the back of my head. When I had one down, I thought that I should be faster than Richard to be a fast four-faulter. I thought that just for two seconds, and then I was already turning inside, and then I had the jump down. That was not at all the plan, but that is what happened.”

Although it was not what he had planned, Judge still finished out the day with a $30,000 prize for second place, followed by Ward in third for $20,000 in prize money.

As Ward said, “It was not the move we had planned, but you know that is also part of the sport. Quentin had quite a lot of pressure today, going last and as the returning champion. I thought he did a very good job to stay quite composed. He will be beating himself up about it, and he will not make that mistake again, I guarantee it.”

Speaking of his own round with Troya Retiro, Ward remarked, “He has not done any derbies before, but we have the benefit of being able to school at Double H Farm, which has a beautiful derby set up. He handled everything really well. He jumped very well on Thursday and then he went for a cruise around the course yesterday to get a look at everything. I thought we had a good prep and I thought he jumped a spectacular round today. You need something to break your way a little bit to win one of these, and I think he had a little bad luck, but I think this horse will hopefully come back and do the next derby well in July.”

With a huge list of accomplishments, a derby win at Spruce Meadows has eluded Ward, but he hopes to get it done one of these years and enjoys competing either way.

“It is an exciting class,” Ward acknowledged. “It is not a class you want to see every day because it takes a lot out of the horses for sure. It is a real stamina test, but it is a skill set and it is part of our sport. I think it is exciting for the athletes, for the fans, and for the media. It is a cool thing to watch, especially when it is done well.”

Course designer Leopoldo Palacios was happy with another great derby and spoke of the importance of the skillset for the riders.

“I think we had a very good class. For me, a derby is not to make a clean round. Every derby in history only has a few clean rounds. This derby has three cleans in eight years,” Palacios pointed out. “I think that a derby is very important for the sport and I think that today, every rider should do the derby. It makes braver riders and this is the nature and the roots of the sport.”

Spooner Goes Two for Two

Richard Spooner and Chivas Z
Richard Spooner and Chivas Z

Prior to his derby win, Spooner raced to victory with Chivas Z in the $40,000 ATCO Structures & Logistics Cup, a 1.45m faults converted speed competition. Out of 58 entries, Spooner and Chivas Z finished with a clear round and the fastest time of 70.323 seconds over the Uliano Vezzani (ITA) set course.

Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez (MEX) jumped Felipe Gaspar’s Puertas So What to the second place time of 70.770 seconds. Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) finished third with Mario Onate’s Charielle in 74.702 seconds.

Spooner has been riding Chivas Z, a 16-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Cumano x Lord Gotthard), full-time for two years now. He helped rider Ashlee Bond with the horse before that, so he knows the gelding well.

“I think it is coming together,” Spooner said of their partnership. “I do not know how much further we are going to go. I think he is doing the 1.50m really well. I would like to see if I can get him in the 1.60m division a little bit and we will see what happens. I will try to pick a few of those out as the circuit goes on.”

Commenting on the day’s track, Spooner noted, “It was a tricky course. There was a lot of turning and running. It was a bit tough to get back to the one white jump by the gate because it was right next to the liverpools, but my horse was great there. Classically, that is a bit of a struggle for him, but he was quite good today. Once we got past that I was able to just lay the hammer down and keep going.”

“I think it was a good course for him,” Spooner added. “Basically, the plan was just to go as fast as I possibly could. We had a little bit of a mistake earlier in the week, but I would say it was rider error. Today, I wanted to go out and be very positive with him and get him really going fast in the beginning, and the plan worked out.”

Although Spooner did not qualify for Saturday’s grand prix this week, he was happy to have the opportunity for another good competition Sunday morning.

“I was disappointed that I did not qualify for the grand prix obviously, but if I had qualified for the grand prix I would not have done this competition, so ultimately you never know where the chips are going to lay,” he remarked.

With his derby payday of $60,000 and a $10,000 top prize in the 1.45m as well as a $1,000 tenth place finish in that competition with Zaprilia M, Spooner raked in a grand total of $71,000 in the International Ring on Sunday. He will continue on to compete in the remainder of the Summer Series, which hosts four more weeks of competition through July 12.

Up next is the ‘Continental’ Tournament CSI 5*, which begins on Thursday, June 11, and continues through Sunday, June 14. Highlights include the $400,000 CP Grand Prix, the $126,000 Scotiabank Cup, the $85,000 Husky Energy Classic, and the $85,000 Repsol Cup.

For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Richard Spooner and Richard Fellers Speed Off to Victories at the Del Mar National Horse Show

Rich Fellers and Colgan Cruise. Photos By: Rick Osteen Photography.

Saturday evening began with a loud buzz of a sold-out stadium, busy merchandise vendors and food stands at the Del Mar National Horse Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Del Mar National Horse Show celebrated its 70th Anniversary in style, with a spectacular list of competitors in both the Speed Derby and Grand Prix of Del Mar to entertain the fans who came to celebrate the sport of show-jumping.

The Speed Derby consisted of a course that had the riders taking on obstacles in the Del Mar Arena, then galloping from the Del Mar Arena outside to complete tight rollbacks in the Durante Arena, galloping back inside to tackle a triple bar to finish the exciting course with another tight roll back. The riders and their mounts meant business, turning and burning on tight inside tracks for a well-designed course by world-renowned course designer Olaf Petersen.

The Master of Faster, Richard Spooner, kept a quick pace with Ace of Spades, but Karl Cook and his mount Banba came in to take the lead, maintaining a long, lofty stride and executing all the inside turns flawlessly. Another well-known West Coast rider, Richard Fellers trotted in on Colgan Cruise with determination to take the class, in front of an enthusiastic crowd that cheered him on as he came galloping back into the Del Mar Arena, hitting every distance with precision. Fellers and Colgan Cruise took out the class to take home first place, with Cook and Banba close in second, and Spooner and Ace of Spades rounding out the top three.

Next up, the Grand Prix of Del Mar! After yielding 30 competitors from Friday night’s Surfside Grand Prix, presented by Hunt+iJump, 29 ended up joining for the Saturday night fun for the Grand Prix of Del Mar.

The bustling crowd was energetic and the horses and riders could feel the excitement throughout the Del Mar Arena. It was a battle of accuracy, as the course, designed by Olaf Petersen, kept the riders and their mounts on their toes – or hooves – with the course containing a tight roll back to the colorful Lego Jump to a bending line to the impressive triple bar and the riders finished with a bending line from the liverpool to a two stride combination right on the rail.

Richard Spooner and Cristallo
Richard Spooner and Cristallo

The level of competition was at an all-time high with world-class riders such as Richard Spooner, Richard Fellers, Eduardo Menezes, Eric Navet, Karl Cook and others as they went head to head in this well laid out course. Only six pairs progressed to the jump-off, which was an annotated course that finished with a lengthy gallop to part B of the two stride combination that finished the initial course.

Both horses and riders knew they were up against incredible competition and if they were to win the class, they would have to not only be fast, they would have to go clean. Menezes and Quintol, who won the Surfside Grand Prix on Friday night with another mount, came in with a tight, clean round at 43.234, with Navet and Jonkheer Z not far behind in time, at 43.953, but with an unfortunate rail. Elicia Edgar and Cipolini VD Gastheuv were a bit more conservative with their time at 49.806 and one rail down. It came down to Spooner, the ultimate Master of Faster, with his mounts Chivas Z and Cristallo, and Fellers, on crowd favorite Flexible.

Chivas Z and Spooner put up a quick, clean round with a time of 42.177, the elegant grey Zangersheide gelding making the course look easy. Fellers and Flexible looked happy tackling the course in the large Del Mar Arena, just coming out of the Longines FEI World Cup Finals with a respectable seventh place finish in Las Vegas, NV. Not only did the 19 year old Irish Sporthorse Stallion look happy, he smoked his competition with a clean round in a time of 40.303. The time was tough and Spooner knew that when he walked back into the ring on his second ride, Cristallo, and the last round in the jump-off. The beautiful bay Holsteiner gelding and Spooner left it all in the arena, keeping the tidiest track we saw all evening and a galloping pace that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. They flew threw the final timers, fault free, and shut out the rest of the competition with an incredible time of 38.754.

The crowd went wild for what was one of the most impressive grand prixs of the 2015 show season. The seasoned veterans congratulated each other on a job well done and Spooner acknowledged the great competition that made up the Grand Prix of Del Mar as he accepted the Governor’s Cup Trophy. Congratulations to all the riders and their amazing horses and thank you for a spectacular evening of show-jumping.

West Palms Event Management | 2683 Via de la Valle | Suite G #717 | Del Mar | CA | 92014

Darragh Kenny and Alpha VDL Win McDaniel & Assoc. Cup at Spruce Meadows

Darragh Kenny of IRL riding Alpha VDL. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.

Spooner Makes It Three in a Row

Calgary, AB, Canada – June 28, 2014 – The ‘Canada One’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows continued on Saturday featuring the $33,500 McDaniel & Associates Cup 1.55m with a win for Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Alpha VDL. The small margin of six one-thousandths of a second separated Kenny from second place finisher Kirsten Coe (USA) aboard Czardas 30.

The $8,000 Francis Family Cup 1.45m was also held in the Chinook Ring in the morning with another win for USA’s Richard Spooner, giving the rider three major wins with three different horses this week. The ‘Canada One’ Tournament concludes on Sunday, June 29, with the $125,000 Imperial Challenge 1.55m.

Cristina Larangeiro of Portugal was the course designer for the McDaniel & Associates Cup, which saw 17 first round entries, and seven advancing to the jump-off in the Meadows on the Green. Darragh Kenny and Eva Castegren’s Alpha VDL jumped the first clear round over the short course in 39.661 seconds for the win. Last to go, Kirsten Coe and Ilan Ferder’s Czardas 30 came incredibly close to taking over the lead, but finished just shy in 39.667 seconds. Ben Asselin (CAN) and Linda Southern-Heathcott’s Doremi completed the only other double clear round in 46.29 seconds to finish third.

Alpha VDL, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Corland x Emilion, has had great success with Kenny in the irons this year and continued his progression by jumping to victory over his first 1.55m track on Saturday. Kenny knew that his horse had the foot speed to win and went for a fast, clear round after the first three riders had rails.

“He is naturally a quick enough horse, and he has won some good classes already,” Kenny noted. “I knew there were places I could be quick. I left out a stride in one line. I did six where most people did seven. I wanted to just have a good round and see where I ended up with that.”

Commenting on Alpha VDL’s rise to the top, Kenny smiled, “His progression has been incredible. The horse has gone from jumping 1.40m classes at the start of Florida to winning grand prixs. He won a grand prix in Ocala, he won a grand prix in Saugerties, and now he won this 1.55m here. This is the biggest class he has ever had to jump, and he coped extremely well. It was great. His owner is here this week, so she got to see him, and it all worked out pretty well.”

Kenny explained that the course was good for Alpha VDL’s first track at that level, noting, “Although it was big, it was a little bit spread out. That was good for him because it gave him time between the jumps. He is a very good horse. He is only nine years old, and he has just been getting better and better. Every time we step him up he just seems to do really well.”

“He is quite conventional to ride,” Kenny added. “He is very careful, and he has a good style. Whatever way I ride him, he seems to like it, so it works good for both of us. He tries really hard to leave the jumps up and that is very important in this sport.”

Second place finisher Czardas 30 is also stepping up his game this summer, and rider Kirsten Coe was very happy with his finish.

“It felt really good,” Coe stated. “That horse has really been knocking on the door. He has been coming along really nicely and jumping a lot of clear rounds. He felt very confident tonight, and I took a chance. He has been progressively moving through the divisions since we have been here. We are just building him up, but we really think a lot of him.”

Coe took over the reins on Czardas 30 this winter after the 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Contendro x Grannus) showed briefly with McLain Ward. She explained that it has been a great match ever since, and her mount really stepped up in Saturday’s final round.

“The jump-off was quite fast. There was plenty of room to gallop,” Coe noted. “I didn’t see Darragh go, but obviously it was very close. It was nice to have a top finish.”

Spooner Scores a Hat Trick

Competition kicked off in the Chinook Ring Friday morning with the $8,000 Francis Family Cup 1.45m where Richard Spooner (USA) got his third win in a row this week. Held in a faults converted format, the competition saw 30 entries jumping a course set by Manuel Esparza of Mexico. About halfway through the order, Spooner and Tuxedo cleared the course in a time of 66.44 seconds that would hold on for the win. The 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Gentleman x Hamilcar) is another brand new mount for Spooner riding for Legacy Stables LLC.

Darragh Kenny (IRL) guided Hyperion Stud LLC’s Chin Quidam VDL to second place honors in a time of 68.71 seconds. Frances Land (USA) and Vieanne placed third in 69.04 seconds. Kenny also took the fourth place prize in 69.48 seconds with Oakland Ventures LLC’s Fantasy.

Richard Spooner of USA riding Tuxedo
Richard Spooner of USA riding Tuxedo

“I don’t know what I ate, I don’t know what I ran into, but something happened right and I just have to try to figure out what it was,” Spooner smiled, commenting on his three-day sweep. He also won Thursday’s $33,500 Cargill Cup 1.50m with Cristallo and topped Friday’s $33,500 Duncan Ross Cup 1.50m aboard Uraguay. Although winning with veteran mount Cristallo is nothing new for the rider, Legacy Stables’ Uraguay and Tuxedo are both brand new horses that he has quickly figured out.

“Tuxedo is a wonderful horse,” Spooner stated after his win. “He is a top, top speed horse. I just got the ride of course, so we are still going through a little bit of growing pains, but today we felt great.”

“I am just learning the things he likes and the things he doesn’t like. He lets me know, which is nice of him,” Spooner said. “I think once I figure out the things that he is fond of we should hopefully have some success because he is unbelievably fast and careful and powerful. He actually really gets into it. He is a fascinating horse because you can feel him almost take over and he gets it. He gets that the goal is not to knock anything down and go as fast as you can, and if you get a horse that gets it like that, then they will be getting a lot of top ribbons.”

Detailing his round with Tuxedo, Spooner explained, “It was quick. I wouldn’t describe it as hair on fire, going 100% for broke, but it was quick and tidy. The horse is quite catty and his brakes are great, so you are able to really hit the gas when you land and stay off the brakes for longer than you can on other horses. Then you can kind of tap the brakes just a stride or two in front of the jump, and he settles right back into position. That gives you about a two-tenths of a second advantage at a good five or six jumps out there, and those tenths add up over the length of the course.”

Tuxedo is finished showing this week after a great win and will rest up for next week’s ‘North American’ Tournament.

Competition at the ‘Canada One’ Tournament will conclude on Sunday with the $33,500 West Canadian Cup 1.50m in the morning followed by the highlight $125,000 Imperial Challenge 1.55m in the afternoon in the Meadows on the Green. For more information and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Spruce Meadows Media Services