Richard Spooner Rejoices over Derby Win to Close the ‘North American’ Tournament
In the final competition of the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament, the Sun Life Financial Derby, Richard Spooner (USA) achieved a career goal by jumping to his first ever win in the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Derby.
An amazing crowd of nearly 29,000 guests rode each fence along with the American great and his veteran mount Cristallo, which ended in an eruption of cheers after witnessing such a historic, feat. The 19-year-old Holstein gelding gave his all to Spooner and crossed the finish line as the only clear round performance in the lengthy 16 obstacle, 1 kilometer, competition.
Spooner commented, “He just keeps giving. As a horse gets older, you just know you’re on borrowed time. When they’re young you think that they’re going to last forever and jump forever and you don’t even think about the fact that it’s finite – which is unfortunate. Now obviously towards the end of his career he’s a finite resource and the fact that at this age he is still able to produce that kind of win for me is just a testament to his resilience and greatness in my opinion.”
Placing second was Luis Alejandro Plascencia of Mexico. The young man once again rode Salamara de la Nutria, an 11-year-old Selle Francias mare who took Plascencia to a fantastic second place finish in last month’s CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby.
Plascencia said, “Going earlier in the order I was in the lead for the majority of the competition, and near the end I was thinking, ‘Wow maybe I can win!’ I knew there was still Spooner and Fellers behind, but I was really excited and already thinking of my victory speech. Well it didn’t work out like that, but I was very lucky because I was very close in the time to Rich and I ended up second. But I was incredibly happy that Cristallo won again!”
Following close behind Plascencia on a matched four fault round was Rich Fellers (USA) aboard Lux Lady, a 12 year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Diamant de Semilly. It looked as though Fellers would be challenging Spooner to a jump off against the clock as he came around to the final line, a double of liverpools combination to the Canada 150 wave planks. The crowd wore their heart on their sleeves through the entire round and once again erupted, this time with disappointment to see the final fence fall. “It’s unfortunately nothing new, for me or anyone of us in this sport to have the final fence down on course – and I’ll do it again I guarantee – not on purpose!” Fellers said jokingly. “Everyone knows the Derby is fatiguing. We don’t practice physical fitness with any of our horses for that length of a course. We never jump that length of a course at all. I actually changed my plan a bit and decided to gather her up after the double of liverpools and make 8 strides in there to get her back on her hind legs and then because she was jumping so well and never touched a rail until the out on that double – So I thought I would be good at the plank and the seven strides was right there and rode her in the seven and just nicked the plank behind for the four faults.”
With such fantastic sport to conclude the day and the Summer Series at Spruce Meadows the crowd en mass felt incredibly satisfied leaving the stadium expressing the joy they felt for American Rider Richard Spooner and his incredible partner, the ageless Cristallo.
Watch highlights of Richard Spooner and Cristallo’s winning round in the Sun Life Financial Derby on the final day of the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament presented by Rolex.
For full results, click here.
McLain Ward Owns Top Spot in the Canada 150 Speed Series
With four competitions encompassing the inaugural Spruce Meadows Canada 150 Speed Series, McLain Ward (USA) captured the top spot in each of the first three events to own the top of the podium. Today he and HH Carlos Z earn one more red ribbon to add to the collection with the concluding event, the Lafarge Cup.
Ward had the good fortune to enter two of his great speed horses into the series, Tina La Boheme that earned him his first and third win, along with HH Carlos Z who he rode to victory in the second and final events. When discussing his unchanging strategy over the Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) designed course, Ward said, “The experience my horses have over this course has definitely helped. With each round I’ve been able to ride a bit more aggressively around the track.” With each first place finish Ward managed to cross the finish line with an improved time on each horse.
Finishing second in today’s Lafarge Cup was the queen of competitive – Leslie Howard (USA). She laid down a fantastic round aboard Donna Speciale, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Cavalier. Howard crossed the finish line with an impressive time of 69.99 seconds, but in the final throws was not able to hold onto the lead with Ward riding Carlos to an epic finishing time of 63.60 seconds.
It was great to see young Vani Khosla (USA) finish with the best of them for the final podium position. Riding Billy Mexico, Vani was able to lock down a superb round aboard this talented 12-year-old stallion by Cevin Z.
The series Champion title was obtained by none other than American veteran Beezie Madden aboard her new and incredibly exciting mount, Con Taggio. The 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding stayed managed to maintain a top 12 position in each of the four Canada 150 series events to earn Madden the championship title, cooler and stunning bronze.
Watch highlights of McLain Ward and HH Carlos’ winning round in the Lafarge Cup on the final day of the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament presented by Rolex.
For full results, click here.