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Richard Spooner rejoices over derby win to close the ‘North American’ Tournament

Tuesday, 11 July 2017
CSI5* Spruce Meadows 'North American' 2017

Photo (c) Spruce Meadows. Richard Spooner with Cristallo. Photo (c) Spruce Meadows.

In the final competition of the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament, the Sun Life Financial Derby, Richard Spooner (USA) achieved a career goal by jumping to his first ever win in the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Derby.

An amazing crowd of nearly 29,000 guests rode each fence along with the American great and his veteran mount Cristallo (Caretino x Cicero), which ended in an eruption of cheers after witnessing such a great, and historic, feat. The 19 year-old Holstein gelding gave his all to Spooner and crossed the finish line as the only clear round performance in the lengthy 16 obstacle, 1 kilometer, competition. Spooner commented, “he just keeps giving, as a horse gets older you just know you’re on borrowed time. When they’re young you think that they’re going to last forever and jump forever and you don’t even think about the fact that it’s finite – which is unfortunate. Now obviously towards the end of his career he’s a finite resource and the fact that at this age he is still able to produce that kind of win for me is just a testament to his resilience and greatness in my opinion.”

Placing second was Luis Alejandro Plascencia of Mexico, the young man once again rode Salamara de la Nutria (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire), an 11 year-old Selle Francias mare who took Plascencia to a fantastic second place finish in last month’s CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby. “Going earlier in the order I was in the lead for the majority of the competition, and near the end I was thinking – wow maybe I can win!” Plascencia said with a laugh. “I knew there was still Spooner and Fellers behind, but I was really excited and already thinking of my victory speech.” He continued, “well it didn’t work out like that, but I was very lucky because I was very close in the time to Rich and I ended up second. But I was incredibly happy that Cristallo won again!”

Following close behind Plascencia on a matched four fault round was Rich Fellers (USA) aboard Lux Lady, a 12 year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Diamant de Semilly. It looked as though Fellers would be challenging Spooner to a jump off against the clock as he came around to the final line, a double of liverpools combination to the Canada 150 wave planks. The crowed wore their heart on their sleeves through the entire round and once again erupted, this time with disappointment to see the final fence fall. “It’s unfortunately nothing new, for me or anyone of us in this sport, to have the final fence down on course – and I’ll do it again I guarantee – not on purpose!” Fellers said jokingly.

“Everyone knows the Derby is fatiguing we don’t practice physical fitness with any of our horses for that length of a course, we never jump that length of a course at all. I actually changed my plan a bit and decided to gather her up after the double of liverpools and make 8 strides in there to get her back on her hind legs and then because she was jumping so well and never touched a rail until the out on that double – So I thought I would be good at the plank and the seven strides was right there and rode her in the seven and just nicked the plank behind for the four faults.”

With such fantastic sport to conclude the day and the Summer Series at Spruce Meadows the crowd en mass felt incredibly satisfied leaving the stadium expressing the joy they felt for American Rider Richard Spooner and his incredible partner, the ageless Cristallo. 

 


Source: Press release and photo (c) Spruce Meadows. 

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