INDIO, CA (February 25, 2001)--Ray Texel, 28, of Malibu, California, riding the 9-year-old Holsteiner mare Fleur, was the only rider in a field of 32 to jump double-clear today at the Indio Desert Circuit in California, clinching the win in the $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix and moving him from third to second in the West Coast League World Cup Standings. "I really believed in Fleur today and decided to give her some trust even though it was a real risky class for me," said Texel. "She's an intelligent horse, she's a fighter, and I think that these last couple of Grand Prix jump offs, she's learned from little mistakes we've been having. I decided today to challenge it and she came through for me. This is really what a partnership is about--working together with this animal. I gave her the best chance to go clear today, but I also think she really helped me out as well--when we came back for that jump off she helped figure things out from the other days. I believe that this weekend is one year exactly that we've been together. This is a wonderful anniversary. I'm going to have a drink for her tonight." Texel took home the blue ribbon, an engraved silver tray, an embroidered cooler, and $15,000 for owner Beverly Hills Equestrian Park.
Ray Texel and Fleur - winner $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix
"They were wonderful together," said Suzanne Saperstein, who owns Beverly Hills Equestrian Park along with husband David Saperstein. "Both of them just really stepped up to the occasion. We're really excited. I'm looking forward to the World Cup very much considering that's where I'm from--Sweden is my home country, so we're hoping that we get to go." The World Cup Final will be held in Goteborg, Sweden, April 16-20.
Danny Foster of Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, designed today's course. "I think it's up to the course designers to help decide who qualifies for the World Cup Finals," said Foster. "It's tough competition when you get there, so I think everyone agrees that it has to be a tough course to make sure that the right horses gain points and get through. Basically there's two ways of being tough. One is with size and the other one is with technicality. I was a rider all my life and there are lots of very subtle things that are difficult that non-riders wouldn't necessarily see the difficulty. Basically you're talking about lines of jumps, combinations of jumps, and the distances in between that relate from one to the other. You only have so many of these classes to make sure that the right horses accumulate points. We owe it to the best ones to give them an opportunity to come out ahead."
For Round One, Foster built a 14-jump course that included water at Fence No. 6, a double combination at Fence No. 7, another double at Fence No. 10, and a triple combination at Fence No. 13. Time Allowed was set at 97 seconds. Nine riders were eliminated on course. Four riders were clean for the Jump Off.
"I was really happy with Round One," said Texel who also rode Pershing in the class. "The first round was a very difficult course. It really asked most of the questions you can ask of a horse. You're asking them to be very careful at the tall verticals but then you're asking them to be very scopey at the big oxers. For sure the oxer over the water really got the horses jumping out very aggressively, so that by the time you got to 10AB and 11, the horses were really aggressive. You really had to hold them back to make all the strides work. I felt like 9, 10AB, 11 was the biggest trick on the course. It didn't prepare you that well for the triple. It helped you because the horse is now a little bit more careful, a little bit more aware, but 13ABC was really tricky as well--the skinny oxer coming in and then a lot of work at B to get over the oxer, then very tight from B to C to get off of the vertical. It caught me on my second horse, but fortunately Fleur was clear."
The nine-obstacle short course included B and C from the triple. Time Allowed was 57 seconds. Texel and Fleur were first in the Jump Off order and set the pace with a clear round in 45.28. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson, ranked fourth in the West Coast League standings, was next in the order riding the Selle Francais stallion El Campeon's Circa Z, her declared World Cup horse. She beat Texel on time, speeding around the course in 44.91, but had a rail for four faults and ended up in third place, taking home $6,500 for owner El Campeon Farms.
Richard Spooner, who ranked seventh in the standings, went third in the jump off on Robinson, who is not his World Cup horse. Spooner entered four horses in today's class, declared Bradford as his World Cup horse, but had one time fault with him for fifth, and four faults each with Southshore and Incento, tying for sixth along with four other four-faulters. On Robinson, Spooner raced over the jumps in 41.89, more than three seconds faster than Texel, but had the heartbreaking last rail down, taking second place and $11,000 for Robinson's owner, the Half Moon Bay Investment Group. "I couldn't see the clock and didn't know how fast I was," said Spooner. "I could have put one or even two more strides in at the last jump. This puts me out of contention for the World Cup."
Last to go was Oeuvray Dehlia from Switzerland riding King Cavalier, her declared horse. Dehlia also had the last rail down. Her time of 45.70 put her in fourth place earning $4,000 for owner Charles Burrus
Texel said, "Going first in the jump-off, it was very important that I set a strong pace and make sure I forced the other riders to really run to have to catch up with me and hope that they would have a mistake because of the speed element involved. Fortunately it worked out today. It's very hard to have a real strategy sometimes because it really all comes down to jumping the jumps clear and going fast. My main priority was to jump clear and be as fast as I could be without risking a careless error because of speed."
Texel is now three points behind Dick Carvin in the World Cup standings and has earned eight scores--which is the limit. Three riders from the West Coast League will qualify for the World Cup based on the outcome of the last qualifier--the $150,000 Ford Grand Prix on March 11 at the Indio Desert Circuit. "I can do the class but I won't receive any points," explained Texel. "It's not done yet, but I think we have a good chance. In the last class, the best thing I can hope to do is be clear on both horses. If I can be in the top placings on both horses it can keep some of those World Cup horses split between each other and that might help a little bit. There's a little strategy there in the points."
Texel took the opportunity to express his feelings about the sport of show jumping. "There are a lot of people that have to work really hard hours and live a very tough life to achieve this kind of success," he said. "Ultimately it's my job when I go in the ring, but there's so many other people involved to get me to that point. It's important to me to make sure that those people are recognized and thanked--which I do privately, but it's also nice to do publicly. The barn manager Richard Padilla and the horse's groom--we call him "Guma," is so great with Fleur. He spends so much time with her. He's the one she identifies with on a day-to-day basis. When it comes down to the competition, it's me that she fights with to win. I think that's quite special. The owner, Beverly Hills Equestrian Park, and the sponsors of the class, and all that goes on to get that horse going, all those things coming together--it's nice to have a victory like this."
James Towle and his wife, Rose Marie Towle own Rio Vista Products, the sponsor of today' class. "Jumping is certainly very exciting," said Rose Marie. "You have to hold your breath every time they go over a jump. You have to admire them because it takes such courage. Grand Prix show jumping is something we like because we feel that the people who are involved in it are really high-end professionals. They have committed their life to this passion. It's a very passionate sport so we like to support the Grand Prix jumpers here. We respect the other hunter/jumpers as well but in this particular venue the Grand Prix is the big event so that's why we sponsor it." Mr. and Mrs. Towle, along with James's brother, David Towle were on the grounds this week at the Rio Vista booth promoting the Rio Vista Fund--which provides funds for emergency situations in the cases of rescues and rehabilitation of horses.
Today's class was also a qualifying Grand Prix for the Cosequin® U.S. Grand Prix League Invitational Finals to be held in Culpeper, Virginia, September 26-30, 2001.
$50,000 RIO VISTA GRAND PRIX, February 25, 2001
Indio Desert Circuit IV, Indio, California
Course Designer: Danny Foster
Pl/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1/Rd 2/Faults/J-O Time
1 Fleur/Ray Texel/Beverly Hills Equestrian Park LLC/$15,000/0/0/45.28
2 Robinson/Richard Spooner/Half Moon Bay Investment Group/$11,000/0/4/41.89
3 El Campeon's Cirka Z/Nicole Shahinian-Simpson/El Campeon
4 King Cavalier/Oeuvray Dehlia/Charles Burrus/$4,000/0/4/45.70
5 Bradford/Richard Spooner/Tracey Kenly&Kenly Farms/$3,000/1/NA
6 Southshore/Richard Spooner/El Dorado 29/$1,583.33/4/NA
6 Incento/Richard Spooner/Oscany Inc/$1,583.33/4/NA
6 Caldero/Lindsay McLean/Lindsay McLean/$1,583.33/4/NA
6 Diamond Go Go/Misti Cassar/Misti Cassar/$1,583.33/4/NA
6 Pershing/Ray Texel/Beverly Hills Equestrian Park LLC/$1,583.33/4/NA
6 Grace/Tracy Fenney/Hidden Lake Farm/$1,583.33/4/NA
12 Amos/Rich Fellers/Harry & Mollie Chapman/$1,000/6/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 32
Class Prize Money: $50,000
HITS Indio Desert 2001 Show Jumping Action continues &
Circuit V February 28-March 4
Circuit VI March 7-11