Articles: Press Release
Richard Spooner and Cristallo Leap to Victory in Pengrowth Cup...Jean
Llewellyn Reports from Calgary for PhelpsSports.com
PHOTO CREDIT: Richard Spooner and Cristallo leap to victory in the
Pengrowth Cup.=A9 2006 Peter Llewellyn/Phelps Images for
Kenneth Kraus of Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at email@example.com
Calgary, Canada - July 6, 2006 - While the Pengrowth Cup class, the
opening international competition on the second day of the Spruce
Meadows 'North American' will not go down in history as a classic, no
one can deny the extremely solid and stylish performance that gave
Richard Spooner and Cristallo a well deserved victory.
There were, in fact, some extremely ragged and ultimately forgettable
performances from a few of the 28 riders who lined up at the start of
this Table A 1m50 class with one jump-off. Fortunately, the devilish
midday heat couldn't be blamed for many lack-luster performances in the
first round because ever-blackening skies had overshadowed the early
evening sun and brought cooler temperatures. Interestingly, given the
extremely generous time limit for this 12-obstacle course, the
prediction of three or four clear rounds from Technical Delegate
Leopoldo Palacios, which some thought was somewhat pessimistic, proved
to be 100% correct.
Beezie Madden was the first to join the clean-slate ranks with
Integrity, and she was subsequently joined by two Mexicans, Alfredo
Miguel Trevino with Acolino and former Olympian Antonio Maurer riding
Odamildo. Norman Dello Joio and Quriel failed to qualify for the
jump-off following four faults incurred at the first element of the
double combination, an upright that had proved to be the bogey fence on
the course, but there was no such problem for Richard Spooner and
Cristallo who showed no signs of vulnerability from the outset.
In the jump-off, Madden was quick out of the blocks with the
nine-year-old Quidam de Revel son, Integrity, and despite the resounding
thump of a bouncing top rail at fence three, they steadily motored and
crossed the finish line clear in 48.03 seconds. Trevino appeared
similarly determined but his luck ran out when Acolino lowered a rail at
the fence four upright. They also exceeded Madden's time for fourth
place overall with 48.34 seconds.
The 40-year-old Maurer, who represented Mexico at the Sydney 2000
Olympic Games, obviously decided to opt for a steady third-place finish
and steered an extremely cautious round with the 11-year-old Dutch
Warmblood Odamildo who upheld his expectations. Interestingly, the
gelding is a paternal half brother to Madden's Integrity by the same
And then there was Richard Spooner. From when he arrived at Spruce
Meadows with Cristallo five weeks ago, this eight-year-old Holsteiner
gelding has matured into a stylish show jumper who looks perfectly at
home contesting a jump-off. There was little doubt that Richard wasn't
looking to place anywhere other than first, and Cristallo was equally
determined to cooperate and demonstrate his ever-improving aptitude over
fences. It was an impressive and speedy display that even gave Richard
sufficient time to check the gelding's stride going to the last, the
fence four bogey in the first round. "Over the last five weeks he's
turned into a tremendous competitor. You can see him go out there now
and relax into it and not only be successful but look like he's a fish
in water. Spruce Meadows can do that to a horse." Richard continued, "I
can tell you that it takes all the strength and self-control I have to
keep him out of the Queens Cup. He's only eight years old and has come
from doing a mere 1m40, to 1m45, to 1m50 in five weeks, so to consider
jumping him in a 1m60 might be somewhat less than wise."
Describing his partnership with Cristallo to date, Richard said, "I've
had him since he was five years old, so he's been progressing with me
over the past three years, but Spruce Meadows provides a venue that is
ideal for a horse at this age." He added, "Each class is similar in
field to a Grand Prix competition. At home you have one Grand Prix
competition a week that is 1m60 and all the other classes are a bit
blas=E9. So to have an opportunity for a horse to come up and do a dozen
classes, not of a 1m60 height but a 1m60 feel and presence will bring
him along and show whether a horse is a winner, a misser or a loser."
Richard went on to say that Cristallo is definitely a winner and
continued, "You have horses that maybe have everything else but might
not be winners. He's proved himself here and at past competitions that
he's a winner. If I can, 'touch wood', keep him sound and keep him brave
he'll continue to be a winner."
Richard revealed that "When I tried him the first time the only reason I
had the opportunity to try him was because no one else wanted to. He was
like the horse in the Wild West Shows that nobody wants to ride except
the boss," adding, "But I felt the first day I rode him that if he
fights the jump as much as he fights me that he'll be exceptional, and,"
Richard smiled, "he fights the jump at least as much as he fights me.
I'm very optimistic with this horse."
Flashing back to the great Robinson whom he was also riding at
Cristallo's age, Richard admitted: "In some ways they are very similar,
they are both incredibly headstrong and both have terrible mouths. I
have one advantage in that I've already had three years with Cristallo's
mouth but I purchased Robinson at the age of eight, so you could say I'm
a little ahead." He admitted candidly, "I'm trying to correct some of
the mistakes that I made with Robinson, so he has once again come
through for me and given me an opportunity to not only have an
exceptional past and present, but a future as well." Explaining his
earlier mistakes, Richard said, "I tried to be a bit of a pacifist with
Robinson and kind of beg him to be rideable. With this horse [Cristallo]
I'm trying to correct the error of my ways and work on his rideability
now while I'm doing 1m40 and 1m50 rather than try and do it when he's
already doing 1m60. As nice a horse as Robinson is, if I'd known then
what I know now I would have done him justice."
Full results: www.sprucemeadows.com
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