INDIO, CA (February 9, 2001)--Richard Spooner, 31, of Burbank, California, riding Bradford, bested a field of 46 to win the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix today at the Indio Desert Circuit in Indio, California. Bradford, a nine-year old, 16-hand Thoroughbred gelding, started his Grand Prix career last year and today's class was his first Grand Prix win. This is Spooner's third Grand Prix win in three weeks of competition at Indio. During Indio Desert Circuit I, Spooner won the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix with Robinson and the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix with Southshore. Spooner was not in the winner's circle Week II and dropped from fourth to sixth in the World Cup Final West Coast League standings. For today's win, Spooner took home the blue ribbon, an engraved silver pitcher, an embroidered cooler, and $7,500 for Bradford's owner Tracey Kenly and Kenly Farms. The Course Designer was Dave Ballard of Toronto, Canada. Mr. Ballad was one of four Assistant Course Designers at the Olympics in Atlanta and in Sydney. He will be the Technical Delegate in Goteborg, Sweden this year for the World Cup Final.
Richard Spooner and Bradford
Prior to today's class, Mr. Ballard said, "You're working towards Sunday with some ideas--getting an idea of how good the competition is, where the weakness of the group as a whole might be, and you might try to exploit that to make sure that not everybody goes clean. The idea is like a test in high school--some are going to pass and some are going to fail. But it should not be too tough of a test. It should just pose a problem in certain areas for certain people and horses."
Mr. Ballard's Round One had 13 jumps including water at Fence No. 6, a double at Fence No. 7, and a triple at the last Fence, No. 13. There were faults at every jump, but the double and triple challenged the most riders with 12 unable to clear the double and 13 unable to master the triple. Time Allowed was set at 88 seconds. Spooner rode three horses in Round One and was clear on two. He was the only rider to have more than one horse in the Jump-Off.
"It was a difficult course actually," said Spooner. "Mr. Ballard had nine clear, which was almost the perfect number. It was a twisting and turning course. You had to do different rollbacks here and there. Sometimes the horses can get a bit confused when you start rolling back and traveling through a group of other jumps. The triple combination at the very end was very, very tight and aimed directly at the back gate. It was the last number on the course so your horse really had to be able to stay relaxed and focused all the way to the end."
For the jump-off, Mr. Ballard set seven obstacles including the B and C elements from the triple for a double combination as the final jump. Time Allowed was 46 seconds. Spooner was third in the order of go and had the first clear round in 37.490 on Bradford, taking the lead and keeping it. Will Simpson went after Spooner on the young mare, El Campeon's Ado Annie, and had the time for the win, blazing over the course in 34.700, but had a rail for four faults, ending up third. Lindsay McLean, a Junior Rider from White Rock, BC, Canada, on her Caldero, followed Simpson in the order and had the only other double-clear, chasing Spooner with a clean round in 40.160 for second place. Hap Hansen riding Magnetic, his horse with the Magnetic Group, was just 1/100th off Spooner's time at 37.491, but he had the same rail down as Simpson and finished in fourth place.
The short course was built with Fence 1, 7A, 9, 10, 12, 13B and 13C. The riders were given an option on how they started the course, which proved to be significant. Spooner described his strategy, "For sure the approach to the first jump set you up right for the seven so that it wasn't too rushed. You had to come through that combination. The first riders on course didn't go through the combination. The other key was the pivot to the blue-and-white vertical (Fence No. 9). A lot of people came flying around that corner to the blue-and white vertical. When they jumped the blue-and white, they were jumping on the go, which at that moment is fast. The problem is you have to do a 240 to 260 degree rollback turn directly to an oxer (Fence No. 10) where the horse has got to be underneath itself. Then you've got to land and go in the opposite direction. So the slower you can actually jump that vertical, the less centrifugal force throws you out on the curve. Then it's easier to jump the oxer and you can actually turn back and run faster to the next jump (Fence No. 12)."
Horse: Bradford; Groom: Carlos Olalda; Richard Spooner; Marla Amromino, Assistant; Tracy Kenly, owner; Kitty Tomkinson (Tracy's mother); Tom Spooner (Richard's dad)
Spooner said that he will ride Bradford in Sunday's Grand Prix along with his other mounts--Incento, Southshore, and Robinson. "Bradford is starting off well. He was fourth in the Sunday Grand Prix Week I. He got a low ribbon last Sunday. And now he won the Friday. Hopefully, this will be a good season for him."
On Sunday, February 11, riders will compete in the $75,000 Bayer/USET Grand Prix presented by HorseCity.com, the second of four World Cup Final qualifiers at the Indio Desert Circuit. The World Cup Final will be held in Goteborg, Sweden, April 12-16. Today's class was a qualifying Grand Prix for the Cosequin U.S. Grand Prix League Invitational Finals to be held in Culpeper, Virgina, September 26-30, 2001.
$25,000 ARIAT GRAND PRIX, February 9, 2001
Indio Desert Circuit III, Indio, California
Course Designer: Dave Ballard
Pl# Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1/ Rd 2/Faults/J-O Time
1 Bradford/Richard Spooner/Tracy Kenly&Kenly Farms/$7,500/0/0/37.490
2 Caldero/Lindsay Mclean/Lindsay McLean/$5,000/0/0/40.160
3 El Campeon'sAdo Annie/Will Simpson/El Campeon Farms/$3,500/0/4/34.700
4 Magnetic/Hap Hansen/The Magnetic Group & Hap Hansen/$2,250/0/4/37.491
5 Pershing/Ray Texel/Veverly Hills Equestrian Park, LLC/$1,500/0/4/37.610
6 Southern Jester/Mary Tyng/China Blue Farm/$1,125/0/4/38.796
7 Incento/Richard Spooner/Oscany Inc./$875/0/8/36.427
8 Sam Malone/Dick Carvin/$725/0/8/38.010
9 Favre/Kyle King/George&Kim Dixon and Kyle King/$650/0/12/39.375
10 Fleur/Ray Texel/Beverly Hills Equestrian Park LLC/$625/4/NA
11 El Campeon's Jo Jo/Nicole Shahinian-Simpson/El Campeon Farms/$625/4/NA
12 Johnny Ba Arabot/Heather Olson/Orchard Hill Farm Inc/$625/4/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 46
Class Prize Money: $25,000
HITS Indio Desert 2001 Show Jumping Action continues &
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 Fridaypm
$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:
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