Richard Spooner and Chatinus Win the World Cup Jackpot at Las Vegas National

Richard Spooner and Chatinus. PC: FEI / McCool Photos

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,” Spooner said. “It’s just absolutely blowing my mind. 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.

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 – a finish which would ultimately slot them second.

Alison Robitaile and Serise du Bidou. PC: McCool Photo

“It’s been a big goal of mine to qualify for World Cup Finals, and I’m feeling really good about getting some good placings the last few weeks, and I’m looking forward to April,” said Alison. “I’m really excited about the season I’m having, especially as I set this goal for myself early, early on.”

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.

“My horse, I got almost two years ago. He’d never jumped more than 1.45-meter before I got him,” said Katie. “For me, my first time is his first time. Every time we go in the ring and we jump 1.50-meter or 1.60-meter, it’s just a great surprise that he keeps rising to the challenge. He takes everything with a great attitude. He loves what he does, and he has a fun time doing it.”

Karrie Rufer and Georgie d’Auvray EC. PC: McCool Photo

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 cost 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,” Spooner said.

Spooner leading the parade of nations for Team USA. PC: McCool Photo

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.

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

Results, Las Vegas National World Cup Qualifier:

Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League — West Coast
1. Richard Spooner (USA) 58
2. Mandy Porter (USA) 41
3. Jenni McAllister (USA) 41
4. Jamie Barge (USA) 35
5. Sayre Happy (USA) 34
6. Laura Jane Tidball (CAN) 32
7. Jenn Serek (CAN) 29
8. Eric Navet (CAN) 29
9. Ali Ramsay (CAN) 27
10. Jennifer Gates (USA) 24