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Richard Spooner, Apache take Los Angeles National Grand Prix

Junior/Amateur riders earn prestigious year-end medals

Special to the Horsetrader - December 17th, 2009 - Show & Event News
Richard Spooner and Apache win the $50,000 L.A. National World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix.

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Richard Spooner and Apache win the $50,000 L.A. National World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix.

BURBANK — As the final major “A” show on the West Coast circuit for hunter/jumper competitions in 2009, the Los Angeles National Horse Show from Nov. 11-15 attracted a good number of both Grand Prix and junior/amateur riders who vied for year-end awards at L.A. Equestrian Center.

Grand Prix riders continued their indoor season in the $50,000 L.A. National Grand Prix, gaining valuable qualifying points for the 2010 World Cup Finals. Medal riders of all ages tested their technical skills in the Onondarka and West Coast Equestrian Medal Finals. Pre-Green horses strutted their stuff for possibly the last time before graduating to the First Year Green section next year.

Richard Spooner wins L.A. National Grand Prix

The $50,000 L.A. National World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix opened Nov. 14 with a mix of up-and-coming equestrians, galloping around on stick horses while benefiting a great cause, Riding For Reading. A gorgeous Friesian pranced proudly around the ring displaying the stars and stripes, followed by a live rendition of the National Anthem by American Idol semi-finalist Jackie Tohn.

Course designer Guilherme Jorge set a tricky yet rideable course, in which almost all of the 16 efforts caused a rail or more. “I built a course that was nice enough to get around but hard to go clear,” Jorge said.

Six of 26 horses went fault free and eight had just four faults. The course flowed from one related distance to another, in both bending and straight lines, including double-and-triple combinations.

First to go, hometown favorite Richard Spooner of Agua Dulce, Calif., aboard Cristallo, owned by Show Jumping Syndications International, made it look like a walk in the park as he sailed around clean. He was followed immediately by Nicole Shahinian-Simpson on Tristan, owned by Illan Ferder, who piloted another clean round.

One step closer to repeating their win in from the 2008 L.A. National Grand Prix, Olympic Gold Medalist Will Simpson riding Archie Bunker, owned by Linda Smith, galloped around clean. Hot to trot, Spooner also rode his own mount, Apache, beautifully and clean.

Eventually, jump-off master Spooner aboard Apache was clean with the fastest time of 34.01 seconds to earn a tear-end Grand Prix victory. Spooner was also third on Cristallo.

“I went with Cristallo, and I didn’t get exactly what I wanted to the oxer,” Spooner said of the jump-off. “The third jump, I was a bit long, and so I was up in the air, and I was already pass my inside turn, and I knew I was in a bit of trouble there, that I was a sitting duck, with riders like Will, Rich and the list goes on. So, I knew I was in trouble and then, of course, Will moved in front of me, and then I had to lay it down and go as fast as I could with Apache and go inside, and I got lucky, it all worked out for me.”

Simpson on Archie Bunker took second place. “Archie’s ready, he’s fit, he can turn, he’s so careful and so smart, I can take shots at turns,” Simpson said.

Rich Fellers wins $25,000 LA National Welcome Stake

The win streak for Rich Fellers of Wilsonville, Ore., continued in the $25,000 L.A. National Welcome Stake. Third to go in the first round, Fellers aboard Flexible laid down a speedy trip clean in 61.38 seconds. Then, 14th in the ring, Fellers atop McGuiness beat his own time clean in 60.46 seconds.

Will Simpson and Archie Bunker slipped in the middle of those two times, finishing clean in 61.22 seconds for second place. Notably fast, Simpson on Black Cherry stopped the timers in 57.88, unfortunately with the last jump down to finish 10th.

Samantha Harrison and Triple Lutz win the West Coast Equestrian Medal Finals.

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Samantha Harrison and Triple Lutz win the West Coast Equestrian Medal Finals.

Samantha Harris wins West Coast Equestrian Medal Finals

The West Coast Equestrian Junior/Amateur Medal Final came down to the final round as Theo Boris and Samantha Harris, both students of Karen Healey Stables, were tied after two rounds of competition. Only the top 15 riders qualify for the third round and with no work off allowed, this round would determine the winner.

The fall season had been fabulous for both Harrison and Boris. Harrison was part of the gold medal-winning Zone 10 NAJYRC Junior Team and the Individual Silver medalist. She also finished fourth in the ASPCA Maclay Final. Boris won the USEF Talent Search Finals West, the Zones 8-9-10 Regional Junior Final, and the LAHJA Junior Medal Final.

Other riders were riding for third place as Harrison and Boris faced off. Harrison returned ahead of Boris and threw the gauntlet down with a beautiful, flowing round. “I like to ride fast and the jumpers have really me taught me how to do that,” Harrison said.

Her equitation mount, Triple Lutz had no trouble with the pace. Boris knew he had to be bold and he aggressively rode the first line and caught the rail of the vertical coming out. “I had to take a chance and I had the rail, but Samantha rode so well and I am really happy for her,” Boris said.

John French and Kamari win the $5,000 Pre Green Championship.

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John French and Kamari win the $5,000 Pre Green Championship.

John French wins Pre-Green Championships

With $5,000 in prize money up for grabs, some of the best Pre-Green Hunters galloped gracefully around the arena Nov. 13. Ridden by west coast greats such as John French, Jenny Karazissis and John Bragg, the competition was fierce.

Having a fantastic year in the hunter arena, John French rode Carolyn Mittler’s Kamari to the win. Jenny Karazissis came in a close second on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Collection.

Hannah Von Heidegger wins Onondarka Medal Finals

Challenging and competitive, these medal finals for 12-and-under equitation riders highlight up-and-coming equestrian stars and have done so for the last 47 years. Many a rider has gone on to greatness after doing well in these finals, including Susie Hutchison and Francie Steinwedell-Carvin.

Hannah Von Heidegger, who trains under Joe Thorpe and Keri Kampsen, won after riding consistently for two rounds. Then, work off of eight riders did not change the top two, Von Heidegger and Olivia Champ, who trains under Peter Lombardo and Katie Gardner.

Von Heidegger was overcome with emotion after her win. “I really wanted to do well as this was my last year to ride in the Onondarka. This means so much to me,” she said.

Los Angeles National Horse Show was managed by Langer Equestrian Group, Inc.. For complete show results, visit www.langershows.com and http://bit.ly/lanational2009

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