It was through the ears of the horse that Richard Spooner saw his way to not one, but three victories this past weekend at the Las Vegas National Horse Show CSI4*-W in Las Vegas, Nevada. In four days, Spooner left his mark on the “city of lights” with an accumulated $201,800 in prize money.
Most impressively, the dominant performances that gave way to his amassed earnings were executed aboard three very different horses, all of which have competed with Spooner on the rated circuit for less than a year.
“Its been this bizarre cinderella story where he’s come into my life, and, thus far, he just doesn’t knock down rails.”
Behind the scenes, the “master of faster” has worked to develop his string of young horses into top level contenders. As displayed in Vegas, his methods seem undeniably proficient.
The eight-year-old AHHA gelding Quirado RC (Quinar x Corrado I), owned by Rancho Corazon, LLC and Guy MC Elvain, was the first in Spooner’s string to kickstart the week in Vegas with a win. Besting a field of 25 combinations, the youngster sped his way to victory in the $51,800 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series Final on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.
Speed, though not a natural attribute to the 18hh up-and-comer, has been a focal point in his training and development. Note worthy, Quirado, who started jumping at the age of six, picked up his first rated win with Spooner a month prior in the $36,500 Del Mar Speed Class in California.
“I’ve tried to keep things simple with him in terms of my training regime. Now that I’ve gotten him to follow my hand, I’ve been able to find a way around his size,” commented Spooner following their most recent win. “I’m getting more and more confident with him. Speed was a difficulty in the beginning due to his size and youth, but over the last few months it has come together.”
“He’s a very careful and scopey horse that is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, horse I’ve ever ridden”
The future sees bigger courses for the grey gelding, who ranks amongst a string of talented potentials.
“I’m optimistic that Quirado will do the 1.50m classes next year. I have the same plan with my other horses. I’m hoping to move them up,” commented Spooner. “With any new string of horses, you go through ups and downs, so I’m hoping for more ups than downs.”
Unbeknownst to Spooner himself, he would continue to experience a victorious week, winning three of the competition’s leading events.
Next in the winning order was the 12-year-old KWPN stallion Arthos R (Namelus R x Mermus R), owned by CNS Logistics, INC. Arthos and Spooner finished 1st in the Saturday, November 18th, $50,000 FEI 1.50m Las Vegas Winning Round Classic, presented by Park Place.
Deemed a “phenomenal horse” by his rider, Arthos has significantly matured in his athleticism since first partnering with Spooner, which gave them the edge to secure their first rated win together in Vegas.
“I began riding him in May of this year. He was a little out of shape, but now his muscle tone has improved quite a bit. He’s a very careful and scopey horse that is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, horse I’ve ever ridden,” commented Spooner post win.
How has that level of athleticism affected his rideability? Well, he’s easy like Sunday morning.
“He’s like riding an equitation horse over the 1.50m jumps. His future is very bright and he continues to improve as his fitness has increased and our relationship has become closer.”
Last but certainly not least, Spooner picked up his most weighted win of the competition aboard a horse he first competed in October 2017.
Following Saturday’s first win of the day, Spooner went on to pilot the ten year-old Hanoverian gelding Chatinus (Chacco-Blue x Argentinus), owned by Germany’s Gestüt Lewitz & Gugler Sport Horses GmbH & Co.KG, to victory in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortgage.
“He’s my newest mount. Its been this bizarre cinderella story where he’s come into my life, and, thus far, he just doesn’t knock down rails.”
“Speed was a difficulty in the beginning due to his size and youth, but over the last few months it has come together.”
Thirty horse and rider combinations were no match for the pair who topped the leaderboard with an unbeatable jump-off time of 37.70s.
Not only does the future appear bright for the rising ten-year-old, but he’s already Spooner’s top contender for the event behind the qualifying effort: the 2018 World Cup Final in Paris.
“My plan for Paris would be to do Chatinus in the Finals, which is exciting for me because I’ve had a bit of hiatus from the Finals. I always enjoy it and I’m looking forward to going back. I haven’t qualified yet, but it looks pretty good,” commented Spooner post win.
Just how does one prepare for a highlight event in all of show jumping? For Spooner, time is of the essence with his new mount, and there are a few things in particular that need to be sharpened before their potential Paris debut.
“Turning has actually been our only problem. In the first rounds he’s been clear in almost every one when I haven’t blown it,” Spooner said.
“I have to kind of cram for the test because the horse is new and I don’t have a lot of time. I have a lot of grounds to cover and a lot of things to work on before I get to Paris, so I’ll see how it goes and take it one day at a time.”