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Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley
Jill Henselwood Leaps To 1-2 Victory

Indio, CA.: It’s a leap year Canadian equestrian team member Jill Henselwood (Oxford Mills, ON) will remember forever. Chalking up her third victory in as many weeks, Henselwood is taking Indio by storm with a one-two finish in the $50,000 King Shavings World Cup Qualifier with her Olympic hopefuls Callisto and Special Ed.

Thirty-three competitors took to the Grand Prix field on Sunday afternoon of HITS Desert Circuit IV to tackle the intimidating course set by 2003 Pan American Games course designer Javier Fernandez (Guadalajara, MEX). With fourteen numbered jumps in the first round, Fernandez asked the competitors to jump a big, technical course under a very tight time allowed. Seven competitors jumped without any rails down, but only four horse-rider combinations were able to accomplish it at the pace required; Henselwood with both her mounts Special Ed and Callisto, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (Westlake Village, CA) and El Campeon’s So Long and Richard Spooner (Burbank, CA) aboard Bradford.

First back in the eight-obstacle jump-off, Henselwood with her talented ten year old Oldenburg gelding Special Ed, set the bar with a quick time of 39.67 seconds. Henselwood went back to the warm up ring to quickly prepare her second ride Callisto, an eleven year old Dutch mare that was next in. Through masterful riding, a determined Henselwood was able to drop a stride to the last two jumps and improve her time by almost half a second to 39.22 securing her lead more tightly. Third to return to the shortened course, Shahinian-Simpson gave a good effort with a fault-free ride, but wasn’t quite fast enough breaking the timers in 39.85 seconds. Last to challenge, the “master of faster,” Richard Spooner, was determined to steal away Henselwood’s lead. Severely angling the first two jumps to save time, Spooner came home in a blazing 37.47 seconds, but unfortunately two rails down meant he had to settle for fourth place.

“I was in the unenviable position of going first and second in the jump-off. I knew with Nicky and Richard right behind me, a slow cautious clear wouldn’t hold up. I went quickly enough with Special Ed that when I returned with Callisto, I knew I could take a little more risk. Today everything came together and it seemed my horses wanted to win as much as I did!” exclaimed Henselwood.

Topping the leading grand prix horse and rider pair of the Desert Circuit, Henselwood is pleased with the progress of her mounts. “I spent three months in Europe last fall getting top international experience for my grand prix horses Callisto and Special Ed. They are both ahead of schedule and I am looking forward to this years endeavors.”


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