Articles: Press Release
Spooner Sees Double Once Again at Indio's Week Three $30,000 Ariat Grand Prix
Joshua Walker for PhelpsSports.com
Kenneth Kraus of Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Indio, CA - February 10, 2006 - The spectators at today's $30,000 Ariat
Grand Prix in Indio experienced the unusual illusion of Deja vu. Except it
was no illusion and it is definitely not unusual for Richard Spooner to
dominate the Grand Prix class to secure the top two positions on the
This time, the blue ribbon went to one of Spooner's new grand prix horses, Live Fire, while his other fresh 7-year-old grand prix horse, Cristallo, followed in Live Fire's hoof prints to finish second. Both impressive wins especially considering this week's Ariat Grand Prix marked Cristallo's first official go in a Grand Prix ring; on a difficult and lengthy course designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio no less.
D'Ambrosio's design hit the mark once again with 7 riders through to the jump-off. A variety of rails fell during the initial round leaving no obstacle to be labeled a bogie. In a class of 43, the layout provided just the right amount of challenging questions to keep the jump-off on target. The 94-second course boasted a number of sharp turns, difficult angles and three demanding double combinations to keep riders winding throughout the entire ring.
"On the second jump in the first round, which was the yellow oxer right at the gazebo, I was coming across on that angle and aiming directly at the building which was approximately 20 feet from the landing of the jump. The horse sees that gazebo coming up and they don't know what the heck you're doing! So they had the tendency to want to pull back a little bit," Spooner explained.
But neither Live Fire nor Cristallo seemed to give that gazebo a second look in either round. Nor did Lexicon, piloted by Eddie Macken, who entered the ring first in both rounds. But Macken and Lexicon couldn't manage a clean round in the jump-off and their time of 48.15 seconds left the first place position wide open for the six subsequent entries.
Spooner and Cristallo strode in after Macken's trip in the jump-off and turned in an impressive time of 44.73 seconds to place them in the lead. But they also collected four faults, leaving an open invitation for anyone to snatch up the top rank. Playboy and Susan Hutchinson were next to attempt to seize the lead and only needed a faultless trip to do so. But one fence would not oblige and their time of 46.14 seconds took a back seat to Spooner and Cristallo's four fault round.
Upon his return to the jump-off ring, Spooner took to the course looking for a clean round to capture the lead from himself. And he did just that aboard Live Fire, floating over every fence in a total of 45.03 seconds.
With three entries left to challenge the forerunner, none could manage a faultless trip; including Spooner's third jump-off qualifier and last week's Ariat Grand Prix winner, Quirino 3. After Molly Talla lost the final two rails aboard Leapy Hill, Spooner remained at first and second places to repeat last week's Ariat Grand Prix's one-two victory. But these particular victories also served as major steps forward for his two young horses.
Spooner's mentor, 1992 Olympic Team Silver medalist for Austria, Hugo Simon, trained Live Fire, which seems to be paying off. But even in spite of Live Fire's rapid success, Spooner is primarily striving to become better acquainted with his World Cup contender while also solidifying sound communication.
Spooner later said of Cristallo, "I've been bringing him along since he was five, but this was his first Grand Prix so I'm really proud of him as well."
Hutchison, of Temecula, CA, kept the pressure on Spooner aboard her young Grand Prix horse, Playboy. But it was ultimately that single fence that kept them from wedging between Spooner's double win, a mistake that Hutchinson chalks up to rider error. "I could have left a stride out to the gold vertical across the middle and then I think we could have been double clear for sure," she said.
But at only 8-years-old, Playboy seems to show the potential to continue a long and successful Grand Prix career. "This is only my second Grand Prix with this horse and I learned a lot from him just today. I think next time, Spooner better watch out," Hutchinson said with a laugh.
Results - $30,000 Ariat Grand Prix, HITS Indio Desert Circuit, 2-10-06
1 - Live Fire- Richard Spooner- Richard Spooner - 0-0/45.03
2 - Cristallo- Show Jumping Syndications- Richard Spooner - 0-4/44.73
3 - Playboy- Ellen Spalding- Susan Hutchinson - 0-4/46.14
4- Lexicon- Beverly Hills Equestrian- Eddie Macken - 0-4/48.15
5 - Leapy Hill- Camaron Hills Farms- Molly Talla - 0-8/45.34
6- Quirino 3- Oscany Inc- Richard Spooner - 0-8/45.55
7 - Urioso- Forest View Farms- John Pearce - 0-8/45.79
8 - Sapphire- Watring/Bohannan- Mark Watring - 4-87.16
9 - Charmed- Alex Dillard- Peter Pletcher - 4-91.60
10 - Black Ice- Stacie Ryan- Jill Henselwood - 4-92.37
11 - Pariska 2- C&S Partnership- Katherine Bardis - 4-93.28
12 - Calibur- Cimmaron Farms- Kelley Small - 4-93.59
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