INDIO, CA (March 2, 2001)--Richard Spooner, 31, of Burbank, California, and Robinson outperformed a field of 51 horses to win the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix at the Indio Desert Circuit in California today. This is Spooner's fourth Grand Prix victory at the six-week circuit, and his second win with Robinson in the Friday Ariat Grand Prix. Spooner rode six horses in the class, but was clear for the five-horse jump-off only on Robinson. Buddy Brown of Wellington, Florida, designed the course. "My hat's off to Buddy," said Spooner. "When we walked the course it looked simplistic--which generally is always the best course. It looked straightforward. It looked inviting. It looked like it was the perfect course for a young horse. It wasn't too big. It wasn't too technical. It wasn't too difficult. It wasn't 'too' anything. It was nice and smooth. So I frankly walked the course and thought we were going to eat Buddy alive. I thought that the riders were really going to have their day and Buddy was going to see 15 clear. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did he only have five clear, he had five of the most exceptional horses clear in the class." Spooner took home $7,500 for Robinson's owner, the Half Moon Bay Investment Group. JCR Sports Productions of Foothill Ranch, California, taped the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix. Airdates will be available at www.tvshowjumping.com
Indio Desert Circuit V is Course Designer Brown's first visit to the HITS Desert Horse Park. He said his plan was to evaluate the ring and the horses each day and make the courses more technical as the week progressed. "With all the shows nowadays there's only so many ways you can set a line or combination. My fun is to play with the equipment and create some different looks, even if it's the same distance that somebody else had set up before, it might not be the same look and it could cause the horses to jump it totally differently. I try to come up with some creative designs using the equipment, drawing the horse's eye away from the top rail. That's sort of my fondness-to make them look through the jump, or make them look at the bottom of the jump, and try to keep the riders and the horses paying attention."
For the Friday Grand Prix, Brown said, "I usually build for the top level modified horse or the lower level Grand Prix horse. There won't be as much scope. It'll be more careful, tricky, creative. Sunday will be more power and scope." The 14-jump Round One course included a double at Fence No. 3, water at Fence No. 5, and a triple combination at Fence No. 10. Time allowed was set at 92 seconds. Many of the competitors had more than one entry in the class, but the five clear horses were all ridden by different riders.
For the jump-off, Brown built a six-element short course that introduced one new jump, and asked the horses to jump two elements of the triple in reverse order from Round One. Time Allowed was set at 48 seconds. Hap Hansen, 49, of Encinitas, California, was first in the jump off order on Maloubet and set the pace with a clear in 44.744, but finished in second place, taking home $5,000 for owner Linda Smith. Sarah Baldwin of San Marcos, California, on Kijoy Forever owned by Brookwood Stables, Inc., was next to go, but earned eight faults in 46.562, taking fourth place. Will Simpson, 42, of Westlake Village, California, went third in the order on El Campeon's Ado Annie, but accumulated eight jumping faults and four time faults to finish fifth. Spooner and Robinson went next and were clean in 44.121, edging Hansen out of the win by just 6/10ths of a second. Rich Fellers was last to go riding Stealth Springer and also had a clear round, but his time of 45.889 was only good enough for third place and $3,500 for owners Harry and Mollie Chapman.
"When Robinson wins, it really makes me feel good because it's a horse that I've had now for five showing years. He's had a long career so far and he's got a lot of good years left in him. He's also my best friend," said Spooner of the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, adding, "Other than Robinson, I really had a bad day. I fell off one. I might be a little stiff in the morning, but after a win I feel fine."
All five of Spooner's other mounts were out of the money today. Of his fall with Hilton Flight owned by Darin Gilchriese, Spooner said, "It wasn't his fault. I didn't use enough outside leg and he didn't focus on the jump, so he tried to jump the six-foot-six standard. That would have been fine, but then he realized that there were two standards in a row. I can't imagine the size of that jump, so he elected to jump half the standard and half the jump. Then I fell off on landing." On the other four horses, Spooner said, "On Sunrise I just rode a little flat down the last line. I made that same mistake with Incento. Bradford was good today. He's been going in a lot of jump-offs. He's been clean in so many rounds. He's still a young Grand Prix horse--he was just a little flat. Southshore jumped really well. He's a fresh one. He's got a lot of blood. With all the rain I haven't been able to work him as hard as I normally would. Maybe I should have been a little harder on him this morning when I flatted him because he was fresh as the Irish spring today." Spooner who normally recalls every jump on course said he couldn't pinpoint which jump was the most difficult today. "Other than Robinson, I had enough jumps down with so many horses I can't really remember."
On Sunday, March 4, in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, Spooner plans to ride five horses: Robinson, winner of today's class and the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix on January 26; Southshore, owned by Eldorado 29, winner of the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix on January 28; Bradford owned by Tracy Kenly and Kenly Farms, winner of the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix on February 9; Incento owned by Oscany, Inc.; and a new horse, Sunrise, owned by Julie and Doug White, that Spooner has ridden in the last two Ariat Grand Prix and plans to compete in the Grand Prix classes through the end of the circuit.
$25,000 ARIAT GRAND PRIX, March 2, 2001
Indio Desert Circuit IV, Indio, California
Course Designer: Buddy Brown
Pl# Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1/ Rd 2/Faults/J-O Time
1 Robinson/Richard Spooner/Half Moon Bay Investment Group/$7,500/0/0/44.121
2 Maloubet/Hap Hansen/Linda Smith/$5,000/0/0/44.744
3 Stealth Sprenger/Rich Fellers/Harry & Mollie Chapman/$3,500/0/0/45.889
4 Kijoy Forever/Sarah Baldwin/Brookwood Stables Inc/$2,250/0/8/46.562
5 El Campeon's Ado Annie/Will Simpson/El Campeon Farms/$1,500/0/12/51.55
6 Rio Grande/Jennie Martin/Augustin Walch/$1,125/ 1/4/NA
7 Grace/Tracy Fenney/Hidden Lake Farm/$875/4/NA
8 El Campeon's Jo Jo/El Campeon Farms/Nicole Simpson/$725/4/NA
9 Jaguar/Hap Hansen/Linda Burke/$650/4/NA
10 Frisky IV/Dehlia Oeuvray/Charles Burrus/$625/4/NA
11 Caldero/Lindsay McLean/Lindsay McLean/$625/4/NA
12 Amos/rich Fellers/Harry & mollie Chapman/$625/4/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 51
Class Prize Money: $25,000
HITS Indio Desert 2001 Show Jumping Action Continues
Circuit V February 28-March 4
Circuit VI March 7-11
$25,000 Ariat Grand Prix Every Friday 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:
HERITAGE PALMS SENIORS DAY
Presented by KESQ TV3 & Palm Springs Follies Sunday, March 11am-1pm
Presented by Avis, Boys & Girls Club of Coachella Valley, City of Indio, El Informador del Valle, Indio International Tamale Festival, KUNA TV, La Quinta Awards, and Valley Meat Markets Sunday, March 11 11am-1pm