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Richard Spooner

Mike Moran first labeled Richard Spooner "The Master of Faster" 8 years ago when Richard first hit the Grand Prix scene.

It seemed as though the moment he started competing in the Grand Prix, if he was in the jump-off, he would be the fastest.

Richard has a talent for discovering the track that takes just a fraction off his competitors time. His horses are trained to stick to the plan, they trust in his judgment, and sometimes seem to defy the laws of gravity. This combination is what has kept him at the top of the Show Jumping World for almost a decade.

Richard Spooner has been the Pacific Coast Horse Show Association Grand Prix Rider of the year for the last eight years. Not only has he dominated on the Pacific Coast during this time, he has also achieved great success abroad as well.

Richard had instant success when he entered the ranks of the Grand Prix in 1996 aboard a chestnut thoroughbred gelding named Kirk, owned by Dave and Tracy Kenly. Soon Robinson, a beautiful gray gelding, and Cosino, a powerful bay gelding, joined his string making Richard a new force to be reckoned with in the world of Show Jumping.

Here is a picture of Richard on Robinson taken by Catherine Cammett in Indio.

In this first year Richard won five Grand Prix and was named PCHA Grand Prix Rider of the year for the first time.

Over the next two years he had continued success at home winning many Grand Prix, including the top prize in the U.S. The $150,000 Grand Prix of Indio aboard Kirk. In addition he quickly established himself as a top international rider. Winning one Nations Cup Gold Medal in Sweden with Robinson, a Silver Medal in Spain also with Robinson, and placing fourth in the 1998 World Cup Finals aboard Cosino. At the close of the season Richard was voted one of the top twenty riders in the world by L`Annee Hippique.

By 1999 Richard Spooner was the man to beat on the West Coast. He began riding a spectacular young horse named Southshore in the Grand Prix. He had brought the young horse up through the ranks while catch-riding him for Jim and Pat Iverson. By the year 2000 Richard had won seven Grand Prix on the talented bay horse, including Richard`s first Spruce Meadows Grand prix win in Calgary, Canada. In addition to the young horses success, Richard continued to dominate on Robinson, and Kirk remained consistently in the winner`s circle.

During this time Richard undertook a project to provide west coast riders the opportunity to travel to Europe and compete. He became the founder and President of the West Coast Active Riders (WCAR). He qualified for the first WCAR tour and his team won the silver medal in Slovakia. In addition to the teams success, Richard himself won the CSI-O Grand Prix in Slovakia aboard Kirk. The year 2000 ended with Richard having 36 Grand Prix wins under his belt and a strong string of horses.

Just when it looked like it couldn`t get any better Richard Spooner once again showed us that winning is what he does best. Deciding to give up teaching and concentrate solely on riding, he started the 2001 show season by winning six of the twelve Grand Prixs in Indio, including, for the third time, the coveted $150,000 Grand Prix. Robinson took home three of the six blue ribbons but the big one went to Southshore, and Kirks replacement Bradford, also a Kenly owned thoroughbred, took home one.

On the international front, Richard spent the summer in Germany competing against the top thirty riders in the world on the Riders Cup Tour aboard his tried and true mount Robinson, and a new addition to his string, a strong beautiful bay gelding, Incento. He was leading rider at Hackenburg and he won both Grand Prix Qualifiers in Gera. Both mounts where incredible and in the end Richard placed forth overall in the European Riders tour. 1st,2nd, and 3rd going to Ludger, Marcus, and Meridith Beerbaum.

2001 saw Richard Spooner win nine Grand Prixs and prove himself a formidable adversary on any soil.

In 2002 we all got to see what Richard Spooner is made of. In Indio Richard suffered a bad fall while warming up a young mare for a futures class. The Mare fell on his leg and broke his fibula. At first it appeared that we might see a year that Richard would not be able to overcome the obstacles. But to the surprise of all, he showed up the next day for the Grand Prix, mounted Robinson and rode to a clean round with no stirrups! He then attempted the course on three other mounts, returned his stirrups (enduring the pain for added control) for the jump-off with Robinson, placed fourth, and qualified for the World Cup Finals. He later made a visit to the doctor and discovered the fibula was indeed broken.

Richard was off to a rough start. He won only one Grand Prix in Indio and the World Cup Finals had been disaster. But slowly he gained momentum and by mid-season he was back. He and Robinson secured a win in Kentucky, and then returned home to great success with his other mounts.

Then he went to Spruce Meadows. There Robinson proved once again to be the anchor to which Richard has secured his success. Rising to the occasion, Robinson won both the $200,00 Queen Elizebeth II Cup and the $175,000 Crysler Derby within a 24 hr. period. To top it off Richard won the $30,000 La Farge cup on Incento earlier in the week and became The North American Champion.

Back on top Richard returned to California and won the first World Cup Qualifier on the very horse he had been injured on earlier in the year Roxy Z. He then introduced another new mount to the winners circle at Show Park by winning the $40,000 U.S. Jumping Derby on an Irish bred gelding Hiltons Flight.

2003 turned out to be Richards most successful year yet. Winning fourteen Grand Prixs in one year. Robinson held true to form winning eight, including the Las Vegas Grand Prix at the World Cup Finals. Bradford stepped up to the plate and won three, Hilton Flight showed his stuff in Spruce Meadows with two wins, and Richard`s latest addition, Quirino, won the first Grand Prix he competed in at the Oaks.

Despite his busy show schedule, Richard found some private time with his close friends and family. Wedding bells were ringing in 2003 when Richard married his girlfriend of six years, Kaylen Maniscalchi on Halloween. The ceremony took place at Doug and Julie White`s ranch in Yerington Nevada. Other than the White`s, the only guests were the couples parents and daughter Taylor. After the wedding, the couple returned home to Agua Dulce to work on their ranch and prepare for the 2004 show jumping season.

Richard Spooner is a leading American showjumping rider, below is a video of Richard Spooner riding Cristallo in the La Corogne Grand Prix.

Richard Spooner (USA) & Cristallo La Corogne 2011-12-17 Grand Prix CSI5- 1,60 m Jumping





Robinson


Robinson has proven again and again that he is number one in Richards` world.

Robinson is a Hanoverian Gelding that was purchased as a eight year old from Ludger and Marcus Beerbalm in Germany in 1996.

He has been with Richard ever since, and in that time he has won over 30 Grand Prixs, including the Queens Cup and the Crysler Derby in Spruce Meadows back to back in 2002, and the Las Vegas Grand Prix at the 2003 World Cup Finals WOW!

Robinson has won over a MILLION DOLLARS in prize money, and has been the PCHA horse of the year THREE times. He has been United States Grand Prix Legue horse of the year twice, and in 2001 he and his stable mate Incento carried Richard to a Fourth Place over all in the Riders Tour in Europe (A series of competitions spanning months, including several of the biggest horse shows in Europe, and competing against the top 30 riders in the world.)

Every November, Robinson takes a vacation. He and Richard go on trail rides, and he lounges around until January of the next year, when he goes back to work to prepare for the Indio Desert Circuit.

Robinson`s strength and grace make him a vision to behold. But his personality is by far his most endearing quality. There is no doubt that Richard and Robinson have special relationship. When you see them nuzzling each other in the barn isle, you realize the depth of their bond.

Richard says" this is a once in a lifetime horse, he has made all of my dreams come true."

Recently Richard commissioned a sculpture to be made of Robinson which the artist, Debbi Lermond, made into several resin copies for resale. Once the resins are purchased, the owner can paint them to look anyway they choose. The sculpture was made in two different versions, one with his tongue hanging out (the way his fans have grown to love him), or a more refined Robinson with his tongue tucked away. Debbi named the sculpture Vertical Limit.

Robinson - Richard Spooner Showjumper.




Horse Fencing
Robinson

Quirino 3


Quirino is an incredibly interesting horse. Richard purchased Quirino as a seven year old in 2002 for Tracy Esse. Tracy has been a supporter of Richard`s for many years, and after selling Incento she wanted a new young GP prospect.

Quirino was found in Germany being ridden by a wonderful young rider Oliver Lemmer. After watching several videos of the horse in competition, Richard was dying to sit on him (Quirino, not Oliver).

He was all that Richard had expected, careful, scopey, and incredibly difficult to ride. The latter didn`t faze Richard, he loves a challenge. So, home he went with his new mount.

Richard`s instincts where correct, the horse was incredible. His walk alone says it all. And as usual Richard was able to fix the ridability issues within a few months.

At the end of 2003, Quirino showed in his first Grand Prix, the Oaks Blenhiem $30,000 Grand Prix, and "surprise-surprise" he won.

Hiltons Flight


It was tough going in the beginning, but know it seems to be a match made in horsy heaven.

Hiltons Flight is the new shining star in Richards sky. A large Irish Gelding owned by Darin Gilchrist, Hiltons Flight made his way to Richard through pure stubbornness.

He did not like to be mounted. The reason is unknown, but it is thought to be genetic. His father and siblings seem to have similar phobias. But lucky for Richard, a man by the name of Vinton Karrasch was around to assist him with Hiltons therapy. Through a process Vinton calls On Target Training (a form of positive reinforcement) the two were able to convince Hilton they were the good guys.

And life for Hilton is now a wonderful thing. He has already won three Grand Prix. Last year he won the $40,000 US Jumping Derby at Show Park , and at Spruce Meadows in 2003 he was unstoppable, winning the $40,000 Esso Imperial oil Grand Prix, and the $75,000 BP Cup.

This horse has an incredible presence. When he canters by, you can feel the ground shake. He is very sensitive, which seems strange for such a large horse, but he doesn`t seem to mind Richards sometimes not so graceful landings from the jump. Richard says "He wants to be a good horse; he wants to win; that`s what makes him great."

Richard Spooner and Robinson Play to TV and Crowd for the Win in the 100,000 HITS Grand Prix at HITS Tahoe V


A crowd of more than 2,000 people surrounded the Grand Prix arena at today`s $100,000 HITS Grand Prix in Minden, Nevada, and were part of a spectacular high stakes competition that was recorded for television broadcast by JCR Sports Productions. Richard Spooner, 30, of Glendale, California, riding his longtime partner, the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Robinson, nailed Course Designer Danny Foster`s jump-off course in a time that was almost four seconds faster than their closest competitor, Hap Hansen, on Inferno. When he saw his time, Spooner swept his hat off while still galloping, flipped it in the air and caught it, much to the delight of his fans. Spooner said he did it because of the crowd. "We had a fantastic audience today. You can still get beat, but the point is, you want to make it exciting. You want people to know that you`re excited." Spooner took home $30,000 for owner Half Moon Bay Investment Group.

Foster`s 13-jump Round One course included a double combination at Fence Three in front of the west bleachers, another double at Six at the north end of the arena, and a triple at Nine in front of the VIP tent on the east side. Time Allowed was 103 seconds. All verticals were five feet high and all oxers were 4` 9" to 4` 10" wide and at least five feet high. Foster called the course "medium technical" and said that because of the high stakes purse and the presence of television, he gave up part of the intensity level in order to keep the size of the jumps up. He added that he specifically placed a double and triple directly in front of the crowds in order to involve them more keenly in the competition.

Twenty-three horses were entered in the class-many of them shipped in specifically for this event. Ten horses had clear rounds and moved on to the jump-off. Three riders made up more than half of the jump-off field-Spooner with Robinson and Incento, the two mounts that he recently competed with in the Olympic Trials. Hansen, who has 90 Grand Prix career wins-more than any other rider-had all three of his entries clear for the short course. And Jenni Martin, of Apex, North Carolina, who won the $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix with Rio Grande at HITS Tahoe I, had fault-free trips with "Rio" and Ready or Not, adding her two horses to the jump-off.

Time Allowed on the tiebreaker course was 66 seconds to jump eight obstacles. Hansen of Encinitas, California, and Inferno, a Selle Francais breeding stallion owned by Jon Shirley and Rocky Mountain Warmbloods, were first in the order and set the pace with a clear round in 47.653. Third to go, Spooner on Incento, a nine-year old Wurtenburg gelding owned by Half Moon Bay Investment Group, beat Hansen`s time, but had the last rail down for four faults and finished in fourth place. Peter Breakwell, of Redwood City, California, was fifth to go and had a clear round on Leonson, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Hyperion Farm, in 52.084 to move into second place. Breakwell held his spot for two more rounds, including Hansen`s second go with Maloubet, a Belgian warmblood owned by Linda Smith, who had a rail for four faults in 49.507 and ended up in eighth place. Spooner returned as number eight in the line-up riding Robinson and took the lead with a time of 43.828 seconds, moving Hansen into second for $22,000 and Breakwell down to third for $13,000. Hansen and Breakwell also competed in the recent Olympic Trials-Breakwell for his homeland, New Zealand.

Hansen had one more chance to win. He returned to the ring with his third ride, Jaguar, a nine-year old Dutch stallion owned by Linda Starkman Burke, but had a rail down for four faults in 51.832 to finish ninth. Hansen said that when he entered the arena, he thought he could regain the lead. "I was thinking I could try with Jaguar. I was going to give it a try. I had 6B down. I just tried to turn him a little to the right over the top of the fence and disrupted his jump a little bit. The jump-off was a good one. There were a lot of long gallops. Richard Spooner had a fabulous ride." Last to go was Leslie Steele of Calabasas, California, on her 12-year-old Dutch warmblood, Figaro-the pair that won the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix on July 9 at HITS Tahoe II. Steele challenged second place with her time of 47.732, but also had 6B down for four faults to finish in fifth place.

According to Spooner, the key to his winning time was the way he handled Jump 10, the black plank that was the sixth element in the jump-off. He explained his strategy as if he were coaching the next rider up. "The plank, the Rio Vista jump, is where you win or lose. You have to take the chance to that jump because it`s a long gallop to it. Then you`ll see the distance about seven or eight strides away on the fly. You have to make sure that you then wait. You have to run past the distance that you want, and then add three strides at the very end. You have to allow your horse to keep running for five and then get him really slowed for the last three. He can kind of stop at the base of the jump, and hurdle the plank with no momentum. That way you can turn right back around the plank. As it happened, people were hitting the Rio Vista on the fly and then landing, and by the time you get back around, you`ve lost five or six seconds. That really was the key. Flying to it and how fast can you get the horse to come back. Obviously Robinson is 12 years old, he`s a real winner, a seasoned competitor, and he has the experience to know exactly what I`m asking for and had that stride at the last minute. A younger horse is going to get stiff in the bridle and knock that jump down-which a few did out there. But that really was the key that unlocked the jump-off."

Course Designer Foster also saw that jump as clearly one of the big questions on the course. "I think a lot of people were just trying to run like heck and hope it worked out. I can see why Richard would pick a place like that to run at such a careful jump, not spend a lot of time being careful with it, and make a quick turn afterwards. That involves a very high level of skill from the horse and rider. He measures everything, he practices everything and he executes so well under pressure." Foster`s jump-off also included a long gallop from Fence 11 to the last jump that went past the VIP tent and straight at the South bleachers. "That was pretty exciting for the crowd," said Foster, adding, "And I know Richard couldn`t live without that big run home so that was in his honor."

"The key to the jump-off is to make the sport interesting," said Spooner. "That`s what it`s all about. The first round whets everybody`s appetite and then the entre is the jump-off. You have to make sure that it keeps people on the edge of their seat. I really think jump-offs have to be exciting. They have to make people want to come back next year. And I hope that this did."

Summing up the event, Course Designer Foster said, "It was a mixed bag of competition. We had some of the greatest riders in the world here and we had some developing young riders and horses. The point was to make sure the best riders had a chance to be the winners, but we didn`t hurt anyone from the bottom end and they gained valuable experience. One of the rewards of doing course design is to sit back with your arms crossed and enjoy the entertainment as much or more than anybody in the audience. When you have the ability to create entertainment that pleases a lot of people and pleases great athletes and makes everyone feel that they`re enriched and better for the experience-I believe that`s probably the greatest reward for doing it."

The $100,000 HITS Grand Prix was filmed by JCR Sports Productions of Foothill Ranch, California. After production and editing, the footage will be aired on several networks including Fox Sports World, OLN Adventure TV, America One, KOCE PBS, and Sky Sports. A complete listing of networks that televise equine events produced by JCR is available at www.tvshowjumping.com. Air dates for the $100,000 HITS Grand Prix will be available in August.

For more information on HITS Tahoe horse shows contact: Mary Hilton, HITS Media and Public Relations, 24 Closs Drive, Rhinebeck, New York. Tel: 845-876-3666, Fax 845-876-5538, E-mail: hiltonhits@cs.com. Website: www.hitsshows.com

$100,000 HITS GRAND PRIX, July 30, 2000

HITS TAHOE presented by Panacur Powerpac, Minden, Nevada
Course Designer: Danny Foster

1 Robinson Richard Spooner Half Moon Bay Investment Grp. $30,000 0-0/43.828
2 Inferno Hap Hansen Jon Shirley/Rocky Mt. Warmbld 22,000 0-0/47.653
3 Leonson Peter Breakwell Hyperion Farm 13,000 0-0/52.084
4 Incento Richard Spooner Half Moon Bay Investment Grp. 8,000 0-4/45.263
5 Figaro Leslie Steele Leslie Steele 6,000 0-4/47.732
6 Rio Grande Jenni Martin Augustin Walch 5,000 0-4/48.863
7 Ready or Not Jenni Martin J.Martin/Steve McAlister 4,000 0-4/49.486
8 Maloubet Hap Hansen Linda I. Smith 3,000 0-4/49.507
9 Jaguar Hap Hansen Linda Starkman Burke 3,000 0-4/51.832
10 Careful 019 Kandi McCoy Aspen Springs Ranch 2,000 0-12/50.795
11 Pop-Socks Dianne Grod Temecula Valley Eq. Center 2,000 1-NA
12 Power Lady Rusty Stewart C.Margolis/Blue Wolf Farm Inc. 2,000 4/NA

Number of horses who competed in this class: 23
Class Prize Money: $100,000