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Canada's Jill Henselwood Sweeps 1-2 In $50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix At HITS ndio Desert Circuit

INDIO, CA (March 1, 2004)—Jill Henselwood, one of Canada's most successful female competitors has galloped away with her second $50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix win at the HITS Indio Desert Circuit. This time Henselwood topped her prior performance by clinching both the blue and red ribbons. Jill posted double-clears with Callisto and Special Ed for first and second places respectively. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and El Campeons So Long had the only other double-clear for third place. Richard Spooner, the top ranked rider in the West Coast League World Cup Standings, finished in fourth place aboard Bradford. The $50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix was one of four World Cup Final qualifiers being held during the six-week Indio Desert Circuit. A field of 33 horses competed and 23 of them were declared World Cup horses.

Course designer, Javier Fernandez of Guadalajara, Mexico, built a 14-obstacle first round course that included a double at Fence No. 8, and a triple at Fence No. 12. The time allowed was set at 85 seconds. Of the 33 starters, only four horses advanced to the jump-off. The time allowed proved to be a deciding factor, with 16 horses posting time faults.

When asked what she found her greatest first-round challenge to be, Jill Henselwood didn't hesitate in replying, "the time allowed." "There was no margin for anything! If your horse required getting organized you found yourself up against the clock."

“For the jump-off, Fernandez shortened the course to seven elements. The time allowed was set at 42 seconds. Jill Henselwood and Special Ed were the first to attempt the course, posting a clear round in a time of 39.67 seconds. Jill quickly changed horses to enter the ring aboard Callisto. The pair left all the rails up, passing the timers in a slightly faster time of 39.22 seconds. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson was next to post a clear round aboard El Campeons So Long. Their time of 39.85 seconds was good enough for third place. Last to go was Richard Spooner and Bradford. Spooner set a blistering pace of 37.47 seconds, but two knockdowns left him in fourth place.

"I went into the jump-off knowing that two of the fastest riders on the Indio circuit, Spooner and Shahinian, were coming in behind me, but Special Ed [Jill's first horse in the jump-off] is a ridiculously special horseevery time he comes out he jumps clean and tries really hard every time. I had walked fence 12ab to 13 as a fast seven [strides], but ended up taking it in eight with Ed. With Callisto, we did it in a flying seven." "She jumps really high," she continued, "but that sometimes costs her time over the course."

“When asked why she had not shown either of her horses in Friday's $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix, Jill replied, "I opted to miss Friday to give both of my horses a rest. I was thinking of the $150,000 [Ford] Grand Prix week six and I didn't want to get there with tired horses. I have two lovely horses for Canada and will take them to the trials for [the Olympic Games in] Athens."

Other major award winners at Indio Desert Circuit IV included:
Bayer Legend Leading Hunter Rider - Peter Pletcher, Houston, TX
Bayer Legend Leading Jumper Rider - Richard Spooner, Burbank, CA
HBO Junior Medal Winner - Whitney Roy, Newport Beach, CA
Charles Owen Children's Medal Winner - Mavis Spencer, Santa Monica, CA
Charles Owen Adult Medal Winner - Elizabeth Dickinson, Los Angeles, CA
$25,000 Ariat Grand Prix - Richard A Spooner, Burbank, CA, riding Robinson, owned by Half Moon Bay Investment Group

For an unprecedented fourth week in a row, Peter Pletcher has received the Bayer Legend Leading Hunter Rider award. Richard Spooner has equaled Pletcher's achievement in the jumper ring, as he was also awarded the Bayer Legend Leading Jumper Rider award for the fourth week in a row. Spooner has won the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix with his top horse Robinson for the last two weeks in a row.

The race for the Golden Horse Leading Grand Prix Rider Award is a close one with Jill Henselwood aboard Special Ed narrowly in the lead after 8 Grand Prix events on the 2004 Indio Desert Circuit (with 54 points). Nipping at her heels is Richard Spooner aboard Robinson with 53 points. John French riding Millenium is in third place with 34 points.

The Leading Grand Prix Rider will receive a beautiful gold and sapphire "Super Bowl" ring courtesy of Golden Horse Jewelry. The top six horse and rider pairs in each of the Circuit's twelve grand prix classes are awarded points using the World Cup point system (20-12-8-4-2-1) with the top-pointed rider taking home the coveted ring. In case of a tie, total grand prix money-won will determine the winner.

For more information on the Indio Desert Circuit, please visit

Jill Henselwood and Callisto - Winners of the $50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix
(photo courtesy of Todd Sutherland Photography, © 2004)

$50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix - Sunday, February 29, 2004
Indio Desert Circuit IV - Indio, CA
Course Designer: Javier Fernandez, Guadalajara, Mexico

Place Horse Rider Owner Prize Money Rd 1 Faults JOFaults JOTime
1st Callisto Jill Henselwood Juniper Farms Ltd $15,000 0 0 39.22
2nd Special Ed Jill Henselwood Juniper Farms Ltd $11,000 0 0 39.67
3rd El Campeons So Long Nicole Shahinian-Simpson
El Campeon Farms $6,500 0 0 39.85
4th Bradford Richard A Spooner Tracey Kenly / Kenly Farms $4,000 0 8 37.47
5th Millenium John French Cathy / Alex Mendez $2,500 1
5th Tulip Rich Fellers Harry / Mollie Chapman $2,500 1
5th El Campeons Petri Nicole Shahinian-Simpson El Campeon Farms $2,500 1
8th Mogharebi's Jente Joie Gatlin Phoenix Equestrian Inc $1,200 4
8th Robinson Richard A Spooner Half Moon Bay Investment Group $1,200 4
8th Hilton Flight Richard A Spooner Freedom Farms Inc $1,200 4
8th Remember Me 9 Laura Linback Woodrun $1,200 4
8th Lexicon Helen McNaught Beverly Hills Equestrian Partners $1,200 4


Desert Circuit V - March 3-7
Desert Circuit VI - March 10-14

$50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix - Sunday, March 7 at 1:00pm
$150,000 Ford Grand Prix of the Desert - Sunday, March 14 at 2:00pm

Seniors Day, Presented by KESQ TV and The La Quinta Rotary Club - Sunday, March 7 from 11:00am-1:00pm
Fiesta Day, Presented by Avis and Nextel/Suprema Communications - Sunday, March 14 from Noon to 2:00 pm
Circuit Awards - Sundays Prior to 1:00pm Grand Prix

Directions to HITS Desert Horse Park: Take I-10 to the Monroe Street exit in Indio. Go south approximately five miles to Avenue 52, and then turn right onto Avenue 52. Horse Show entrance is ½ mile on right. Tel: 760-775-7731; Fax: 760-775-7752. Website:



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