Richard Spooner and Chatinus; Photo by Amy McCool

November 19, 2017 – Las Vegas, NV – It was a spectacular Saturday night at the one and only South Point Equestrian Arena, as thirty competitors representing seven countries were vying for valuable North American League points in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortgage. Three riders posted clear rounds and returned for a remarkable jump-off that required the precision of Longines timing to clarify. Second to last to go, Richard Spooner (USA) aboard the 10-year-old Hanovarian gelding Chatinus, beat the leading time held by USA’s Alison Robitaille to take the win. This was the third victory for Spooner this week at The Las Vegas National CSI4*-W, on three different mounts.

Richard Spooner leading the US riders in the Parade of Nations; Photo by Amy McCool

Opening Ceremonies began with the Parade of Nations, a tradition at The Las Vegas National, with each rider introduced to a cheering audience, setting the scene for some show jumping splendor. Following the exit of the FEI riders, the US Equestrian Chef D’Equipe Robert Ridland and Young RIder Chef D’Equipe DiAnn Langer honored eight Zone 10 equestrians for their impressive accolades in championship events this year. Entertainment ensued as the lights went down and Ki-Juan Minors sang several of his own songs, and then the National Anthem.

Ki-Juan Minors in the South Point Arena; Photo by Alden Corrigan Media

The entertainment didn’t end there, as the thrills and spills of international show jumping followed. Noting that the conditions, materials, and field of riders were all top notch, International Course Designer Oscar Soberon set his course to a high-performance standard. “There are a few jumps at 1.60m which are verticals. The oxers are 1.50m, with spreads of 1.50m to 1.70m, so it’s a very challenging and demanding course. The main objective is to prepare the North American riders for a great result in the Final.”

World Cup™ Champions, Olympic Medalists, and CSI5* athletes, mixed with up-and-coming horses and riders, all faced the jump challenges that included an arched wall at fence one, three scopey combinations, a triple bar in the middle of the course, and an option line to a large oxer at the end of the course. Soberon believes it’s important for the horses to see variety in the jumps: “The horses need to see more than just two or three rails in an oxer or vertical. I like to provide a different type of course than the traditional indoor; my idea is to try to design an indoor course that rides like a big outdoor arena. This arena at the South Point works very well.”

The crowd had seen rails, refusals and unexpected dismounts before twenty-first to go, Alison Robitaille, delivered the first clear round aboard Bertram & Diana Firestone’s Serise Du Bidou, an 11-year old chestnut mare.

Alison Robitaille and Serise Du Bidou; Photo by Amy McCool

Soon afterward, Richard Spooner completed a clear round on his own Chatinus. One other pair matched the clear round efforts, Karrie Rufer (USA) aboard Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC’s Georgie D’Auvrav EC.

Soberon’s jump-off course allowed the riders to execute long gallops, a few bending lines, and one combination. First to go, Robitaille demonstrated another well-ridden clear round, setting the bar for the two riders to follow. Spooner’s strategy, and his mount’s big stride, wowed the audience as he stopped the clock three seconds faster than Robitaille. After having a rail, Rufer retired knowing she would be third.

Karrie Rufer and Georgie D’Auvrav EC; Photo by Amy McCool

Spooner said he was surprised that his time was so much faster. “I was fortunate enough to watch Alison’s jump-off round, and I felt optimistic that I could beat her time if I carried a bit more of a gallop from the second fence to the third fence. After that, I was able to coast a little through the remainder of the jump-off course.”

With two events remaining on the North American Western Sub-League, Spooner leads with a total of 58 points. He is looking forward to the potential of competing in Paris at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, but having competed at this Indoor Championship many times over the years, he knows the competition is quite challenging. “Chatinus and I are a very new partnership; we don’t really know each other yet. He impresses me every day, and I’ve had great success on him since the beginning of our partnership. He and I still have some work to do and some more improvements to make.”

After several top placings at Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping events this season, Robitaille leads the North American Eastern Sub-League. Returning to the international scene after having a family, she set the bar high with a goal to earn an invite to the Final. With her results in Las Vegas, it seems she may be on the path to join a host of top CSI5* competitors in Paris, France next April.

Richard Spooner and Chatinus with (l-r) Mitilde Negrete, Robert Ridland, Evette and Gregg DeLong; Photo by Amy McCool

As the press conference came to a close, a group of fans waited in the foyer for the much-anticipated chance to get autographs from the top three riders of the night, as well as the other international competitors. Stay tuned to Blenheim EquiSports on Facebook and Instagram for news on the upcoming season.

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The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League boasts a minimum of US $2.4 million prize money across the series, and offers the best Jumping athletes from North America and around the world the chance to qualify for the jackpot of more than US $1.4 million (€1.3 million) on offer annually at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.

A total of 14 athletes from the North American league will qualify for next year’s prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, which will take place at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, from April 10-15, 2018. The top seven athletes from the East Coast US, top three from West Coast US, and the two best-placed athletes from Canada and Mexico, will qualify for next year’s Final, alongside winners of 15 leagues around the world.

The 2017-2018 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League competition begins in August, across seven East and seven West Coast venues in three countries: the United States, Mexico and Canada. The Las Vegas National Horse Show is one of only 14 events chosen, and this is the only leg of the prestigious tour that will be hosted in Las Vegas. More at:

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