Spooner and Cristallo Lead Way in USEF Selection Trial Standings for US Show Jumping Team
RELEASE: March 3, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Joanie Morris
Richard Spooner and Cristallo (Randi Muster/Mustphoto.com )
– More than halfway home in the USEF Selection Trials for the US Show Jumping Team for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and clear rounds are at a premium. McLain Ward and Rothchild won the Third Selection Trial presented by Fidelity Investments with the fastest time, but Richard Spooner found himself on top of the Selection Trials standings after a masterful round in blustery conditions with Cristallo.
Guillerme Jorge’s track was every bit of 1.60m and made for some very challenging jumping especially in a new venue for the first time. The vast grass Stadium in the infield of the steeplechase course, made for a very different setting than the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The horses who jumped clean did so in a variety of techniques, but brave horses and forward riding prevailed.
“It was very big,” said Ward. “It was tough conditions with the wind. In the end it was good, the good riders stepped up. It was a good test. A real championship horse should be able to jump in every venue.”
Rothchild, Ward’s 9-year-old unorthodox understudy to his superstar Sapphire (who was named to the USEF Show Jumping Long List before the beginning of the Trials) is owned by Sagamore Farms. The pair has nine faults over the three trials to leave them tied for fourth.
“My horse felt great but green,” said Ward. “I had no choice but to go forward. I always really believed in this horse. He’s a funky horse, he does things his own way but his greatest asset is that he gets the idea to leave the jumps up. It was great experience for him… he’s a horse coming along for the future.”
Ward crossed the line with a time of 74.07 seconds in his speedy effort and Rich Fellers and Flexible were second with a time of 75.23. Mollie and Harry Chapman’s Irish Sport Horse stallion rebounded from a mistake in the second Trial to add another clear round to their first Trial ribbon. Beezie Madden and Danny Boy (owned by Abigail Wexner) rounded out the top three for the class but the buzz at the showgrounds is all about the Selection Trials.
Spooner made the journey from his Aqua Dulce, CA base worth the time and miles, he has had one rail and two time faults over the three rounds with Show Jumping Syndications’ 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Spooner made a decision after the first round to allow himself the luxury of a time fault if it meant a clear round. The deal has paid off, and one time fault in each of the last two trials has kept him very much in the hunt.
“Well, my plan was to have a clear round,” said Spooner. “I made a decision after the first night to not be worried about the time allowed. I went slowly and cautiously.”
Cristallo’s scope and carefulness were maximized on the course that produced just six clear rounds out of the 32 horses that made the trip across Southshore Blvd to test their jumping in a different venue on the grass in the Stadium.
“It seemed to jump fantastic, he never ceases to amaze me,” said Spooner. “Most courses suit him – it’s just a question of me getting my ride right.”
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Candice King are tied for second in the Trials standings on eight faults.
Shahinian-Simpson, like Spooner travelled from California for part of the winter season. She had two lovely rounds in the third Trials, Kilkenny Rindo (owned by Kilkenny Crest)had one rail down, but it was her skilled clear on Tristan (owned by Ilan Ferder) that left her in such good order going into the fourth Trial on Friday afternoon. Tristan, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding, thrived in the grassy venue.
“Both horses are relatively new,” said Shahinian-Simpson. “I got Tristan last May and took him to Spruce Meadows. He’s come along well.”
Kilkenny Rindo was new to the grass but he looked very confident in the change of venue. His four-fault performance leaves him on a score of 21 faults for the Trials.
“Rindo had never jumped on the grass before but he’s quite brave,” said Shahinian-Simpson. “Tristan did Spruce Meadows, so he had that experience. He is very brave and I felt confident he would go ok. It’s rare that you are asked to jump in a new venue and jump 1.60m right off the bat, but it was the same for everyone. For them to jump as well as they did gives me confidence.”
King is also forging her partnership with Skara Glen’s Davos after a fall last year meant not much competition for eight months. Another 10-year-old, the flashy gray Zangersheide gelding – owned by Skara Glen Stables – jumped handily around the course. He had one rail down, but secured a great position in the standings overall.
“He’s relatively inexperienced,” said King. “I’m really looking forward to getting in the top 15 and getting to Europe. These are two of the nicest horses I’ve had in my career and I want to give them good experience and mileage.”
King had two rails down on Toronto, her other Trials horse.
The USEF Selection Trials continue on Friday March 5, 2010 at 2 pm, Friday night is the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by CN, a highlight on the Winter Equestrian Festival. The final Trial will be held on Sunday afternoon at 1 PM. All three classes are available for live viewing at: www.universalsports.com.
At the conclusion of the Trials, per the USEF Selection Procedures nine horse/rider combinations will be named to the USEF Long List based on their final overall placing from the USEF Selection Trials for Jumping. There are also up to six places on the long list available at the recommendation of the USEF selectors. Lauren Hough/Quick Study, Laura Kraut/Cedric and McLain Ward/Sapphire have already been named to the USEF Long List. A total of 15 horse/rider combinations will be named on Monday, March 8, 2010.ENDS
For complete standings and all the information, please visit: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsDisciplines/discipline/alljumping/sjSelectionTrials.aspx and http://www.clubequestrian.com/coverage/weg_jumping_trial.aspx.