Spooner, Gatlin and Porter Pick Up Major Prize Money at HITS Thermal
RELEASE: February 28, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Chris Mayone
If the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix on February 22 was any indication of what kind of week Richard Spooner is going to have at HITS Thermal, other grand prix riders should be on alert.
Forty-nine pairs challenged Canadian Course Designer David Ballard's route in Thursday's featured class, but the "Master of Faster" proved to be too much for the large field of exhibitors as he secured first, second, third and 10th place, collecting $16,750 in total prize money.
"All that I have to do the rest of the week is not mess up my record," said Spooner. "It doesn't get much better than first, second and third, but I am going to use this as a stepping stone for the rest of the week."
Kicking things off in the jump-off were Travis Root and his mount Coasting. The pair had eight faults and finished in sixth place. There were only three double-clear efforts in the class, and Spooner, the HITS Desert Circuit's all-time leading money winner, was credited with each of them. Spooner and Ezrah followed Root in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 39.218. The pair eventually ended up in third place, collecting a $3,250 check for S&B, LLC.
There was no rest for Spooner, as he returned with the round's next trip aboard S&B, LLC's, Apache. They stopped the clocks in 39.010, which would be enough for a second-place finish and another check for $5,500.
Fourth in the jump-off order were Bliss Heers and her mount GZS Cassira Z. They had four faults and finished in fifth place. Guillermo Obligado and Suleyman De Wulf Selection went next and they also had four faults, finishing the day in fourth place behind Spooner's impressive triple.
Spooner was now sitting in the enviable last-to-ride spot, this time aboard Quirno 3. They had the fastest double-clear round of the six pairs that advanced to the jump-off when they stopped the clocks in 37.070 to take first place and $7,500 for Oscany, Inc.
With the win, Spooner earned some valuable points towards the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, March 16, during the all new Championship Week at HITS Thermal. The top 30 pairs based on prize money won on the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit will be invited to compete in the class.
Friday evening was ladies night at HITS Thermal when Joie Gatlin and her mount Camaron Hills Shan Roe secured the top prize during the $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan.
Gatlin and her 13-year-old mount had the sole clear round on Ballard's route and secured $15,000 in prize money for Camaron Hills Farm. More importantly, the triumph catapults Gatlin into the mix of riders near the top of the FEI U.S. West Coast League World Cup Standings.
It was only Gatlin's seventh class aboard Camaron Hills Shan Roe as she had the ride in place of rider Molly Talla, who is expecting her second child. "I am very fortunate to have this ride," said Gatlin.
"Having the class indoors was a lot of fun," said Gatlin. "Everytime you step into the ring there is such a great vibe. It's a great thing for the riders on the West Coast."
Gatlin ended Rich Fellers and his mount Flexible's run of two consecutive victory's in the $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan at HITS Thermal. The pair eventually finished in ninth place. "Rich is a tremendous competitor, but he has so to share the wealth," joked Gatlin.
Rounding out the top finishers were Mandy Porter and her mount Summer, who were second, and Spooner and his ride Apache finished in third place.
With the victory, Gatlin earned some valuable points towards the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix. The pair currently sits in first place in the standings.
Canadian John Pearce told Mandy Porter that he knew she was going to win Sunday's featured class as she was congratulated by a slew of supporters for her blue-ribbon effort aboard her trusty mount Su