INDIO, CA (January 28, 2001)--Richard Spooner rode four horses in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix at the Indio Desert Circuit in Indio, California, today, and qualified three for the jump-off. The 31-year-old rider from Burbank, California, placed first, second, and fourth, winning the class with Southshore, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred/Holsteiner. Will Simpson of Westlake, California, was the only other rider in a field of 23 to go clear over Course Designer Leopoldo Palacios' Round One course, making the jump-off a two-man contest. Simpson was clean in the jump-off with El Campeon's Ado Annie, crossing the timers in 35.286, just 0.460 seconds behind Robinson, but was nearly two seconds slower than Southshore, placing him third. Spooner's take for the day was $15,000 for Southshore's owner, Eldorado 29; $11,000 for Robinson's owner, the Half Moon Bay Investment Group; and $4,000 for Bradford's owner, Tracey Kenly and Kenly Farms. When asked how he liked competing against himself, Spooner quipped, "I have a lot better shot at winning."
Course designer Palacios, who set the jumps at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, said he considers himself a technical course designer--building courses that require the horse to use his mind and the rider to find the correct spot at each jump rather than building very high and very wide. "I expected four or five cleans but I didn't expect it from one rider with three horses," Palacios said. "But Richard rode them very well and I think the Time Allowed did the job. The first week was a difficult decision for me. I didn't want to be too hard on the horses so I played a little bit with the time. In that way I knew we wouldn't have too many running in the jump-off. Now we'll have horses for the rest of the season. I'm happy with how it turned out. We have a good winner." Round One Time Allowed was set at 84 seconds to clear 14 fences including water at Fence No. 5, a double at Fence No. 6, and another double at Fence No. 8. In addition to Spooner and Simpson, three more riders cleared the fences, but each had time faults and did not move on to the jump-off.
"The Time Allowed wasn't that tight and I think some of the other riders had a tendency to get lulled into complacency over the first seven jumps," said Spooner, "and that started adding up in the second line. They added about three or four seconds to their time which caught up to them in the end."
In the Jump-Off, Palacios built six jumps, including a double, with Time Allowed set at 50 seconds. Spooner was first to go with Bradford who had a rail down for four faults in 35.650, ending up in fourth. Spooner came back again with Robinson and set the pace with a clear round in 34.826, finishing in second place. Simpson was third in the order with El Campeon's Ado Annie and had a clear round in 35.286 for third. Spooner returned to the ring with Southshore, and bested all the rides with a clear in 33.431 for the win.
"I've had three horses in a grand prix jump-off before, and I didn't win," said Spooner. "Just because you have three and somebody has one doesn't mean you'll win. Will was only a second slower than Robinson. If he had gone faster than Robinson I would have had so much pressure applied to me on Southshore that maybe it wouldn't have worked out the way it did." Spooner added that he found one point in the course that was critical to his win. "The key was making the horse curl the third jump in the jump-off--which was the horsecity.com green, light vertical. It was a very tight turn back to a very wide, white oxer across the middle. You jumped the green jump fast, now you have to turn and the centrifugal force throws you out of the circle. It's very difficult for the horses to keep their feet as they're coming around. They have to be able to grab the dirt as they're coming to that white jump so you have to add a stride. And that in fact is what happened to Will. He jumped the green, his horse stalled a little bit, the horse was skating on the sand, and couldn't really get its footing, so Will had to add one more stride to the white. In a race this close, one stride is everything. It's a split second."
Spooner also joked that he had a new "lucky shirt" that he thinks he should wear for the remaining Indio Desert Circuit Grand Prix events. "I got it today. I was accidentally locked out of my trailer and couldn't get my clothes. I didn't have my wallet either." Spooner went to the Desert Marketplace vendors at the show grounds for a new wardrobe. "It's a good thing I have credit with them. They all just dressed me."
Will Simpson said he was pleased with his mare's first Grand Prix performance of the season. "The jump-off was almost letter perfect," he said. "She was jumping with a little too much clearance. She was jumping so solidly, so carefully. She's very strong. She's only eight years old. I was wondering if she was fit enough to go into the jump-off and she rose to the occasion. She's got an unbelievable heart. She loves to compete. We bought her as a four-year old, brought her along slowly. We've just been waiting to go in the Grand Prix--and here she is."
Simpson said that he wouldn't have done anything differently than he did today and explained that he made a split second decision to slow her down after the third jump. "That fence is right in front of the in-and-out, so if I let her go in what I call a 'flyer'--when the green light is on and you just go--then maybe she would have got a little nervous and had a bobble in the combination and opened up a whole can of worms with a combination problem. You don't want to do that with a green horse. All in all, I think I have to be fairly happy with my third place. I know that I have a super solid horse that's ready to compete for the whole circuit rather than take too much today." Simpson said that if El Campeon's Ado Annie continues to perform well, he'll aim toward competing her in the World Cup Finals qualifying Grand Prix classes at Indio.
Mike Moran, Vice President of EMO, was part of the awards ceremony. EMO is a full coverage equine insurance company. Moran commented on the company's involvement with HITS horse shows: "We're proud to be the sponsor on the opening weekend to set the tone and to again demonstrate our commitment to the industry and to the horse shows that we think are quality events. HITS is on top of trying to make the sport grow and not just in numbers of competitors. It's a company that's interested in the economic impact that it has-whether it be the Ocala area, here in Indio, in Virginia, in New York-wherever they are, they're interested in the community and the impact that show jumping and horse shows have on the community. If you believe in any kind of trickle-down theory-that is really the best way to approach the industry of showing horses and show jumping. That makes us feel very good at EMO. We like to demonstrate to other people in the industry--whether they're 'cause' marketers or not--that show jumping is a viable advertising form. Sponsorship is a good thing. The industry continues to grow. If you get involved with something that grows, then you should be growing as well. EMO has continued to grow along with Horse Shows In The Sun events."
Desert Circuit II, January 31-February 4, will feature the $50,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix, the first of four World Cup Finals qualifiers to be held at HITS Desert Horse Park.
$50,000 EMO GRAND PRIX, January 28, 2001
Indio Desert Circuit I, Indio,
California Course Designer: Leopoldo Palacios
Pl# Horse Rider Owner Prize Money Rd 1/ Rd 2 Faults/J-O Time
1 Southshore Richard Spooner Eldorado 29 $15,000 0/0-33.431
2 Robinson Richard Spooner Half Moon Bay Investment Group $11,000 0/0-34.826
3 El Campeon's Ado Annie Will Simpson El Campeon Farms $6,500 0/0-35.286
4 Bradford Richard Spooner Tracey Kenly/Kenly Farms $4,000 0/4-35.650
5 El Capricho Farmer Lynn Obligado Woodgrove Farm $3,000 1/4 / NA
6 Apprapos Michael Endicott Rolling View Farm $2,500 1/4 / NA
7 Achat 6 Damian Gardiner Damian Gardiner $2,000 1/4 / NA
8 Cajou Perou Michael Endicott Julie Hicks $1,500 4/NA
9 Millennium John French Cathy Mendez $1,500 4/NA
10 El Campeon's Jo Jo Nicole Shahinian-Simpson El Campeon Farms $1,000 4/NA
11 Incento Richard Spooner Oscany Inc $1,000 4/NA
12 Jaguar Hap Hansen Linda Starkman Burke $1,000 4/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 23
Class Prize Money: $50,000
HITS Indio Desert 2001 Show Jumping Action continues
Circuit II January 31-February 4
Circuit III February 7-11
Off Week February 14 - 18
Circuit IV February 21-25
Circuit V February 28-March 4
Circuit VI March 7-11
$25,000 Ariat Grand Prix Every Friday 1pm
$50,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix Sunday, February 4 1pm
$75,000 Bayer/USET Grand Prix of Indio Presented by HorseCity.com Sunday, February 11 1pm
$50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix Sunday, February 25 1pm
$50,000 HITS Grand Prix Sunday, March 4 1pm
$50,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge
Presented by The Chronicle of the Horse Sunday, March 11 8am
$150,000 Ford Grand Prix of the Desert Sunday, March 11 2pm
Special Day Events:
Kids Day Presented by Fox Kids Club and KDFX Sunday, February 11 11am-1pm Heritage Palms
Seniors Day Presented by KESQ TV3 & Palm Springs Follies Sunday, March 4 11am-1pm
Fiesta Day Sunday, March 11 11am-1pm