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Dynamic duo

Spooner and 19-year-old Cristallo push to dramatic .04-second win in $60,000 Grand Prix of California

Special to the Horsetrader - June 1st, 2017 - Show & Event News
Richard Spooner and Cristallo soar to victory in the $60,000 Grand Prix of California, held May 13 at Showpark.

Richard Spooner and Cristallo soar to victory in the $60,000 Grand Prix of California, held May 13 at Showpark.

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DEL MAR — The Master of Faster turned on the heat with his equine partner of 15 years to clinch the $60,000 Grand Prix of California, presented by Equ Lifestyle Boutique. The unstoppable duo, known as Richard Spooner and Cristallo, executed a flawless jump-off in 33.75, less than .04 seconds faster than the previous leaders, Vani Khosla and Billy Mexico. Relegated to a well-deserved second by a show jumping veteran, Khosla earned her second impressive grand prix red ribbon for the week.

World-renowned course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil built a stout, flowing 1.50m track for the class. A scopey double combination by the in-gate contributed to a number of faults, although rails fell throughout the course. Two riders rode without fault over the jumps, but exceeded the time allowed by minute amounts, ultimately finishing tenth and eleventh. Nine horse and rider combinations advanced to the jump-off, of which just three finished double-clear. With each time faster than the one before it, it was a spectacular afternoon of show jumping.

Mandy Porter and Coral Reef Follow Me II attempted the shortened course first and set the bar at a double-clean ride in 35.15. Khosla reentered the ring third and laid down a seemingly unbeatable trip in 33.79.

Veteran that he is, Spooner then snatched the lead by just a hair, stopping the clock in 33.75 seconds.

“From one to two, I was very, very fast. I didn’t go top speed to the last jump – I felt as though I was fast enough one-two-three that I could rest on my laurels a little and it worked out this time,” he said. “I thought it was an excellent class. We’re lucky to have a course designer of Guilherme’s level here. He does an incredible job and I thought that Blenheim EquiSports did a great job with the show.”

Spooner and 19-year-old Cristallo have countless wins in the books, but each one is still special. For today’s win, Spooner took home a pair of Roeckl Sports gloves, a set of EquiFit horse boots, and a SmartPak cooler. Along with the prizes and recognition, he has the horse of a lifetime to share the winning experience with.

“We’ve had a very long and extraordinary relationship, and it just amazes me that he is still fit and strong,” Spooner added of Cristallo. “He didn’t do any classes this week; he just came out for the grand prix and he nailed it. How could I possibly say enough about how I feel about that horse?”

$7,500 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10-under Futurity Qualifier

Allison Kroff and 8-year-old Quintus led the victory gallop after an exhilarating jump-off of 12 young horses in the $7,500 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10-under Futurity qualifier, held just before the grand prix. Kroff blazed around the shortened course with her big-strided mount, making the winning decision to leave out a stride in the last line.

“I know that my horse has a really big step and sometimes that’s to my disadvantage but in jump-offs it’s always to my advantage. I can leave steps out where sometimes other horses can’t,” Kroff explained. “In the last line I wanted to do the six, even though a lot of people were thinking it wasn’t really there.”

The challenging yet fair track made for riveting competition.

“Guilherme builds such great courses. They have great flow, they have technical parts, but they’re never trappy, and I appreciate that for young horses,” Kroff described.

Partnered with Quintus for a year now, Kroff imported the horse from Germany and brought him along in the seven-year-old classes. The pair had competed in their first 1.40m grand prix together the previous
Thursday at the Showpark Ranch & Coast Classic.

Quintus and Kroff were the third pair to finish double-clear, edging out Rich Fellers aboard Aurora’s Diamond and Nicole Haunert aboard Costena La Silla. Three more horses emerged fault-free after Quintus, one of which was also piloted by Kroff and finished fourth, but none were able to beat the remarkable time of 34.91 seconds.

Nayel Nassar with Dee Jee and Jamie Sailor with Flashdance raced through the timers in under 33 seconds, however both incurred heartbreaking four faults at the penultimate fence.

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