Show jumpers representing four nations challenged the second FEI World Cup qualifier held at Thunderbird Show Park this season. For the USA's Richard Spooner andShow jumpers representing four nations challenged the second FEI World Cup qualifier held at Thunderbird Show Park this season. For the USA's Richard Spooner and
Show jumpers representing four nations challenged the second FEI World Cup qualifier held at Thunderbird Show Park this season. For the USA's Richard Spooner and three-time Mexican Olympian, Jaime Azcarraga, this was a first trip to Langley, British Columbia. Joining them in the hunt for FEI points was Oregon's Rich Fellers, who has made several trips North in the past few years, and Ireland's Jennifer Crooks, who recently returned from a European tour that included a team win in Copenhagen. The track was tough and the time was fast, providing the perfect afternoon out for one of the top speed riders in the world.
"It's the first time I've come up here and even if I hadn't won, I sill would have been elated," explained Spooner, who also took the top spot in last week's $50,000 Fortress Paper Grand Prix. "My horse, Cristallo, was fantastic for me today."
FEI Designer, Olaf Petersen Jr., created a course that required a careful ride over two big verticals and scope through a triple combination, but he felt that the final fence would be the biggest challenge for the field. "It is my signature. After everything seems done, the horse has to pass the in-gate and do one more big square jump going away," noted Petersen.
In the end, most riders were able to keep Petersen's tricky fence up, but struggled earlier in the course with tipped rails, falls and time faults. Just seven were able to go clear to the jump off, led by 24 year-old Langley local, Brian Morton. "I tried to remind myself that the only performance I could control was my own," said Morton. "I knew that I had two of the fastest riders in the world to follow me, so I just tried to go fast enough to push a few mistakes from the others, but make very sure that I kept the jumps up."
Morton posted no faults, setting the time to beat at 42.55. Second into the ring was Spooner on Cristallo, who had a slightly different outlook. "I don't go for my own ride, I'm trying to beat everybody else," laughed Spooner. "When Jaime and Rich are behind you, you just have to go as fast as you can and hope that you don't knock anything down."
Spooner and Cristallo shaved almost four seconds off Morton's time to drop him out of the top spot. Crooks posted the only other double clear, but didn't push for a winning time, choosing to give her mare a solid round in preparation for the upcoming Nation's Cup at Spruce Meadows.
Both Azcarraga and Rich Fellers on Colgan Cruise finished with four faults, placing fifth and sixth respectively, just ahead of a relative newcomer to the Grand Prix scene.
Twenty-one year old Nick Gegen, from Colorado, first got in the saddle just four years ago. Having received a horse for his birthday, he made quick work of moving up the ranks. In the past two seasons, he has brought his KWPN gelding, Sancerre, previously a 3' equitation horse, into the Grand Prix ring with great success. "I didn't really expect this today, it's my first time riding in a World Cup qualifier," explained Gegen, after a single time fault kept him out of the jump off. "I didn't even do the Grand Prix's in Thermal this year."
The $100,000 Keg Steakhouse & Bar World Cup Grand Prix awarded the largest purse ever offered at Thunderbird Show Park. Spectators arrived early to fill the grandstands in preparation for some fantastic show jumping to close out a season that began in May with an inaugural visit by Canadian Olympian, Jill Henselwood.
Thunderbird Show Park will host several events over the Fall/Winter, before getting underway with the Canadian Premiere Tournament in May 2012.
$100,000 Keg Steakhouse & Bar World Cup Grand Prix Top 8
Place, Horse Name, Rider Name, Owner, Time, Faults
1. Cristallo, Richard Spooner, Show Jumping Syndications Inc, 38.88, clear
2. Spitfire, Brian Morton, Brian Morton, 42.55, clear
3. SF Uryadi, Jennifer Crooks, Olivia Cox-Fill, 46.28, clear
4. Bon Figlioli, Kendall Bourgeois, Imagination Lane, 38.08, 4
5. Celsius, Jaime Azcarraga, Jaime Azcarraga, 42.25, 4
6. Colgan Cruise, Rich Fellers, Harry & Molly Chapman, 41.97, 4
7. Sancerre, Nick Gegen, Nick Gegen, 1
8. Oxford, Laura Jane Tidball, Thunderbird Show Stables, 2
About Thunderbird Show Park:
In their 38th season, Thunderbird has now finished their seven-tournament season, which runs from May and September and welcomes thousands of competitors and spectators to their 85-acre equestrian show grounds in Langley, BC. Each tournament features both amateur and professional riders in hunter and jumper classes from Wednesday to Sunday. The Park is open daily to the public during tournaments with general admission grandstand seating around the Fort Grand Prix Field. Visit www.thunderbirdshowpark.com for more information and the full season schedule.