By Catie Staszak
The old adage claims that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but it will be hard to keep secret the talent of Richard Spooner’s (USA) new equine star, Chatinus. Spooner piloted the 10-year-old Hanoverian to the gelding’s first World Cup qualifier victory in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas (USA).
“I’m just very optimistic for the future with this horse,” Spooner said. “It’s just absolutely blowing my mind.”
Spooner defeated Alison Robitaille (USA) and Serise du Bidou to claim the top check, outpacing that duo’s time by nearly three seconds. First to go in a select jump-off field of three, Robitaille and her mount crossed the timers in 40.20 seconds; Spooner and Chatinus finished in 37.30 seconds. Karrie Rufer (USA) and Georgie d’Auvray EC, the only other combination to advance to the shortened track, finished in the third position. Last to go and Spooner to catch, Rufer elected to retire after her mount pulled a rail, but it was still a career-best finish for the amateur rider, who was competing in just the second World Cup qualifying competition of her career.
The course designed by Oscar Soberón (MEX) made for great show jumping, as the crowd on hand was on the edge of their seats waiting for a clear round. They did not get one until 21 horse and rider pairs had competed, but they did not have to wait much longer for a second: The west cost audience showed their appreciation when fan favorite Spooner, 24th to go, guaranteed a jump-off. A total of 29 competitors jumped in Round 1.
“I stuck with my plan. I walked the course and just did what my original plan was, and it worked out,” Spooner said.
Spooner now sits atop the standings of the west coast sub league of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League with 58 points. Robitaille leads the east coast sub league standings; she has 52 points.
“For me, it’s unfamiliar ground to have a horse that just kind of goes in the ring and is just like an ATM machine at this point!” Spooner said of Chatinus, whom he has only had since the summer. Chatinus also posted top five finishes in World Cup qualifiers at Sacramento (USA) and Del Mar (USA) this season.
The next event on the North American League will take place in Guadalajara (MEX) on Saturday, 27 January 2018.
1. Chatinus, Richard Spooner (USA) 0/0 37.30
2. Serise du Bidou, Alison Robitaille (USA) 0/0 40.20
3. Georgie d’Auvray EC, Karrie Rufer (USA) 0/RET
4. Bull Run’s Faustino de Tilli, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) 4 71.19
5. Milano, Mandy Porter (USA) 4 74.27
6. Tembla, Karl Cook (USA) 4 74.51
7. Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve, Emily Moffitt (GBR) 4 75.23
8. Kahlua, Andrew Kocher 4 76.46
Full results can be viewed here
Richard Spooner (USA) – 1st
“This horse is such a fresh mount for me that we’re still in the discovery phase. So far, I really like what I see. Paris is going to be a big challenge for every rider and every horse and rider combination as well as for me. I have a lot of boxes to check before I get there, but thus far, every box that has showed itself…we’re just kind of going down the list and making the checks.”
Alison Robitaille (USA) — 2nd
“It’s been a big goal of mine to qualify for World Cup Finals, and I’m feeling really good about getting some good placings the last few weeks, and I’m looking forward to April. I’m really excited about the season I’m having, especially as I set this goal for myself early, early on.”
Karrie Rufer (USA) — 3rd
“My horse, I got almost two years ago. He’d never jumped more than 1.45-meter [before I got him]. For me, my first time is his first time. Every time we go in the ring and we jump 1.50-meter or 1.60-meter, it’s just a great surprise that he keeps rising to the challenge. He takes everything with a great attitude. He loves what he does, and he has a fun time doing it.”
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League — West Coast
1. Richard Spooner (USA) 58
2. Mandy Porter (USA) 41
3. Jenni McAllister (USA) 41
4. Jamie Barge (USA) 35
5. Sayre Happy (USA) 34
6. Laura Jane Tidball (CAN) 32
7. Jenn Serek (CAN) 29
8. Eric Navet (CAN) 29
9. Ali Ramsay (CAN) 27
10. Jennifer Gates (USA) 24
Full standings can be viewed here
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League — East Coast
1. Alison Robitaille (USA) 52
2. McLain Ward (USA) 45
3. Isabelle Lapierre (CAN) 40
4. Conor Swail (IRL) 40
5. Jack Towell (USA) 38
6. Devin Ryan (USA) 37
7. Beat Mändli (SUI) 35
8. Andy Kocher (USA) 32
9. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) 29
10. Beezie Madden (USA) 28
Full standings can be viewed here