Calgary, AB, Canada – June 21, 2016 – After a week of solid rounds at Spruce Meadows Summer Series, the icing on the cake for Richard Spooner was a sweet victory in the $175,000 CNOOC NEXEN Cup Jumper Derby aboard Cristallo. This marks the second consecutive year that Spooner and Cristallo have claimed the victory in the class, and the third time in their careers.
No strangers to the Leopaldo Palacios-designed course, Spooner and Cristallo have been competing in the famed derby since 2006. After the course changed in 2007, Spooner piloted Cristallo, now 18, around the track nine times, winning in 2012, 2015 and now 2016.
“Cristallo means so much to me and has done so much for me over the years,” Spooner said. “To be able to win this class with him for the third time is just incredible. I look forward to every ride on him.”
Tackling the course, however, is no easy feat, and there have only been three clears since its 2007 update. Elements along the taxing track include double liverpools, a table bank, a derby bank and the Devil’s Dyke.
The first round proved challenging for all 15 competitors, with only 12 managing to complete the course, and most collecting upward of 12 faults. The last rider to attempt the course, Spooner matched Lisa Carlsen’s (CAN) four-fault effort to force a jump-off.
Heading into the short course, Carlsen laid down a quick jump-off round, paying the price of one knockdown for her speedy effort. As Spooner entered the ring afterward, he knew he could play it safe and seal the deal with a slow, cautious ride.
“Lisa left the door open for me by having the rail,” Spooner said. “When I watched Lisa go, I was sweating. I was deeply concerned as fast as she was going. I made the decision to just chicken-peck my way around and take my time. It was not going to be so easy, but I got lucky.”
Spooner continued, “Cristallo has meant so much to me and done so much for me. 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.”
Earlier in the week, Spooner also saw success with another mount, Chivas Z. The duo placed second in the ATCO Challenge 1.50m after battling 12 horse-and-rider combinations in the jump-off round. Spooner and Chivas Z missed Eric Lamaze’s lead by just four-tenths of a second.
Chivas Z and Richard Spooner. PC: Spruce Meadows Media
“Chivas Z jumped his heart out,” Spooner said. “It was a close finish, but I’m really happy with him. He continues to give me his best and has been an amazing partner.”
The 17-year-old gelding also carried Spooner to a tenth-place finish with four faults in the RCB Grand Prix presented by Rolex.
During the second week of the Spruce Meadows Tournament, Spooner had the opportunity to showcase his talented young mounts. On Thursday, he placed third with Ace of Diamonds in the Coril Holdings 1.30m Jumper Welcome, while Esperance placed third in the 1.40m Jumper Welcome. Spooner and Esperance also earned a seventh place ribbon later in the week.
“It’s exciting to see the preparation that we did with Ace of Diamonds before Spruce Meadows pay off,” said Spooner. “She is a very talented mare with all of the scope and carefulness, and she handled the natural obstacles at Spruce with a lot of maturity. I am excited to see how the rest of the season continues to progress.”
Spooner Preparing Ace of Diamonds at home:
Spooner and the team at Richard Spooner Show Jumping will be based at Spruce Meadows for the beginning of the summer, competing with top young horses and veteran grand prix mounts. For more information about Richard Spooner follow him on Facebook.
Written by: Lauren Baker