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Fellers, Flexible fly to the finish

First visit to L.A. Int'l a winning one

From Horsetrader staff reports - October 21st, 2010 - Feature Article, Show & Event News

Flying Horse photo

Fellers and Flexible fly to the finish.

BURBANK — Rich Fellers came to the Los Angeles International Jumping Festival for the first time, and based on his success at the Sept. 22-26 event, he’ll return.

On Thursday night, 39 entries challenged the $30,000 L.A. International Welcome Stake scored under FEI Table C, and it was a case of fast, faster, fastest. Richard Spooner was fourth to contest Leopoldo Palacios’ course and with Pariska 2 (C&S Partnership, owner) he was fast at 66.9 seconds. On his heels, Ali Nilforushan on Pegasus went 66.4 seconds.

Going next, Fellers and Flexible (Harry and Molly Chapman, owners) were even faster in 63.53 seconds. It looked like the top three places were settled early on and everyone else was left to battle it out for fourth, until Fellers returned again on the venerable McGuiness. Hunkered down in his characteristic style, Fellers flew around the course and stopped the clock in 62.05, there was stunned silence and then uproarious applause.

On Saturday night, a record crowd filled the Equidome, and they were entertained by a parade of the USC Equestrian Team and pony clubbers from all over Southern California, led by USC mascots Tommy Trojan on Traveler. The John Burroughs High School Marching Band, 100 members strong, filled the arena, and then a lovely two violin serenade of the National Anthem kicked off a night of exciting show jumping for the $50,000 L.A. International Grand Prix, a World Cup qualifier.

Palacios built a technically challenging track with some very large fences, and Richard Spooner and Cristallo (C&S Partnership, owner) showed everyone why they are a world class team. John McConnell on Katie Riddle (Rancho Corazon, owner) assured the crowd of a jump off. A few horses later, Fellers and Flexible laid down the third clear round of the night. Susie Hutchison rode Cantano (El Dorado 29) to the fourth jump-off slot, and Spooner made it five when he qualified his second horse, Pariska 2.

Reminiscent of last year’s L. A. National, Palacios had a long gallop to the last jump headed right toward the gate, but this time it was a vertical and not a triple bar that concluded the course. Spooner set the pace with a speedy 34.44, executing efficient turns with Cristallo’s characteristic ground covering gallop. McConnell rode a conservative, clean jump-off in 36.74.

This time, Fellers had Flexible, and those in the audience couldn’t help but remember his daring, but slightly desperate gallop to the huge triple bar at the 2009 $50,000 L.A. National. This time, there was no desperation — just dead-on accuracy. They stopped the clock at 23.89.

Hutchison was second on Cantano with a time of 33.54,and Spooner, the last to challenge, had four faults early on with Pariska 2 to finish fifth.

Fellers was very pleased. “There was a little extra pressure for me, because I only took the Chapmans’ two horses instead of a whole barn, so it was more expensive for them,” he said. “We decided it was worth the gamble in hopes of getting a good score in the World Cup qualifier. I was especially thrilled with McGuinness winning the Welcome Stake and outrunning Flexible.”

He added praise for Saturday evening’s show. It was well run,” he said. “They had a great victory ceremony and autograph session afterward — those kind of things are nice for the sport and the fans. It’s good for everyone in the long run.”

More results: see website http://bit.ly/1010B_LAI

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