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Richard Spooner takes the Top-Three Spots in the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix at HITS Thermal

THERMAL, CA (February 22, 2008)—If Thursday's $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix was any indication of what kind of week Richard Spooner is going to have at HITS Thermal, other Grand Prix riders better be on alert.

Forty-nine pairs challenged Canadian course designer David Ballard's route in Thursday's featured class, but the 'Master of Faster' proved to be too much for the large field of exhibitors as he secured first, second, third and tenth place collecting $16,750 in total prize money.

"All that I have to do the rest of the week is not mess up my record," said Spooner. "It doesn't get much better than first, second and third, but I am going to use this as a stepping stone for the rest of the week."

Kicking things off in the jump-off were Travis Root and his mount Coasting. The pair had eight faults and finished in sixth place.

There were only three double-clear efforts in the class, and Spooner, the HITS Desert Circuit's all-time leading money winner, was credited with each of them. Spooner and Ezrah followed Root in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 39.218. The pair eventually ended up in third place, collecting a $3,250 check for S&B LLC.

There was no rest for Spooner, as he returned with the round's next trip aboard S&B LLC's Apache. They stopped the clocks in 39.010, which would be enough for a second-place finish and another check for $5,500.

Fourth in the jump-off order were Bliss Heers and her mount GZS Cassira Z. They had four faults and finished in fifth place. Guillermo Obligado and Suleyman De Wulf Selection went next and they also had four faults, finishing the day in fourth place behind Spooner's impressive triple.

Spooner was now sitting in the enviable last-to-ride spot, this time aboard Quirno 3. They had the fastest double-clear round of the six pairs that advanced to the jump-off when they stopped the clocks in 37.070 to take first place and $7,500 for Oscany, Inc.

With the win, Spooner earned some valuable points towards the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, March 16 during the all new Championship Week at HITS Thermal. The top 30 pairs based on prize money won on the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit will be invited to compete in the class. Click here for the current standings!

DC IV features two more Grand Prix classes and Spooner is loaded for bear with an arsenal of horses to collect even more prize money. On Friday, February 22 Spooner will aim for his first victory in the $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifiers at HITS Thermal, when he goes up against Rich Fellers and Flexible who have been unstoppable. Then, on Sunday, February 24 some of the top competitors in the world will shoot it out for first place in the $50,000 STRONGID® C 2X™ Grand Prix.

Show jumping at HITS Thermal continues all weekend and will feature the first ever HITS Thermal Fashion Show, presented by Horse Connection on Saturday, February 23 in the VIP Oasis Club.

HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS produced its first horse show circuit in Gainesville, Florida in 1982. Since that time, HITS has grown into a nationwide company with world-class hunter/jumper circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit http://www.HitsShows.com

PHOTO:©Flying Horse Photography

Richard Spooner and Quirno 3 win the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix at HITS Thermal


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