Lauren Crooks Takes First International Win in $33,000 Westjet Cup at Spruce Meadows

RELEASE: June 29, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Lauren Crooks and Navare D'Oriolles (Spruce Meadows Media Services)
Lauren Crooks and Navare D'Oriolles (Spruce Meadows Media Services)
Calgary, Alberta
- The finish of the $33,000 Westjet Cup 1.45m could not have been any closer, with only one-thousandth of a second separating first and second place. With the slimmest margin of victory, Lauren Crooks (USA) and Navare D'Oriolles, a 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Derby Rouge x Le Gregol owned by Beatrice Mack, scored their first international victory at Spruce Meadows.

Crooks was one of eight combinations that made it to the jump-off. She and Navare D'Oriolles set the winning time at 39.833 seconds. Three horses later, Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Wang Chung M2S sped around the shortened course and finished a hair slower in 39.834 seconds. While the results are usually recorded to the hundredth of a second, it was necessary to go to the third decimal point to find the winner.

“The jump-off was a little tricky,” Crooks admitted. “There was a tight turn back inside to the wall. I honestly think that's where I made up most of my time. My horse is so brave and he just found that exactly how I wanted it. I was then able to fly to the last jump on another inside turn. He really stepped up to the plate.”

Third place went to Jill Henselwood (CAN) and New Idol Z, who had one time fault in 46.62 seconds. Jordan MacPherson (CAN) and Piccobello du Val de Geer made a great bid for the win in 37.55 seconds, but had a heartbreaking rail at the last jump.

Going into the jump-off knowing she still had five coming after her, including Lamaze, Crooks knew she had to stick to her plan. “I didn't try to think about how fast Eric would be and let it affect my riding,” she remembered. “I just had to go as fast as I could. My horse is so quick in the air and so efficient over the ground, that I really just had to steer him and be as comfortable as I could with that pace. He was wonderful.”

Crooks has been riding Navare D'Oriolles since November. She and her brother Sean recently moved their business, Crooks Show Jumping, back to their hometown of Seattle, WA, from New York and Florida. Navare D'Oriolles was previously ridden by Francis Tress Roig, who competed with him at the Central American Games. More recently, he showed in the junior jumpers with owner Beatrice Mack. He is currently for sale and campaigning with Crooks, who started in the 1.40m division this winter in Florida and finished second in the CSI 2* Thursday event at Thunderbird before Spruce Meadows.

Crooks described him as “so honest and light on his feet.” She added, “He's scopey and you can just sit there and let him do his job. It's wonderful because he's really straightforward.”

Having arrived at Spruce Meadows a week ago, Crooks has made the most of her time here having won a 1.40m competition yesterday and her first international competition today. She said with a smile, “I've won (at Spruce Meadows) in the past, but yesterday was my first 'Spruce cooler.' Today and yesterday, I've been checking off big milestones for me. I've always looked up to the riders who ride in the International Ring here. It's one of the hardest venues in the world. It's always been a dream of mine to win here and to win in the bigger divisions too. This is just one step that I've checked off.”

When asked if she has ever seen a victory of this margin before, she laughed, “No. I'm just grateful my horse has a long neck and I kicked as hard as I could, I guess!”

Final Results: $33,000 Westjet Cup 1.45m

1. NAVARE D'ORIOLLES: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Derby Rouge x Le Gregol
LAUREN CROOKS (USA), Beatrice Mack: 0/0/39.833

2. WANG CHUNG M2S: 2003 KWPN stallion by Royal Bravour x Ahorn
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Morningside Stud & Torrey Pines Stable: 0/0/39.834

3. NEW IDOL Z: 2004 Zangersheide mare by Nelson Z x Concorde
JILL HENSELWOOD (CAN), Juniper Farms: 0/1/46.62

4. PICCOBELLO DU VAL DE GEER: 1999 Belgian Warmblood mare by Kannan x Skippy II
JORDAN MACPHERSON (CAN), JEM Stables: 0/4/37.55

5. ELOUISE LE MUSE: 2004 Belgian Warmblood mare by Nabab de Reve x Darco
RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 0/4/43.32

6. KA CHING: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Ricardo Z x Diamond Lad
DOMINIQUE SHONE (CAN), Caroline Shone: 0/5/46.39

7. HH WHISKY ROYALE: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Wonderful Vant Beugelhof x Kannan
QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 0/8/44.19

8. CHRISTINE: 2004 Warmblood mare by Cassini 1 HLP
CAITLIN ZIEGLER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/14/55.81

9. ZOJASPER: 2004 Dutch Warmblood stallion by Concorde x Jasper
KIRSTEN COE (USA), Ilan Ferder: 1/77.45

10. ZAVIRA: 2004 Dutch Warmblood mare by Karandasj x Numero Uno
ALEXANDER GRAYTON (CAN), Emily George: 4/71.35