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Richard Spooner scores a hat trick in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix at HITS Thermal

THERMAL, CA (March 16, 2009)—Richard Spooner scored a hat trick in Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix when he finished the class first, second and third to conclude Desert Circuit VII at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.

Spooner had the winning ride aboard Peter Farlinger’s Cordoba as they got the best of 41 horse/rider combinations on course designer Marina Azevedo’s (Campinas, Brazil) first-round course and the four who advanced to the jump-off to secure $15,000 in first-place prize money.

“Jill Henselwood was first and second on Friday and I really wanted to outdo her,” joked Spooner.

Three of the four horses qualified for the jump-off were Spooners. He entered the ring first aboard S & B LLC’s Ace. With three horses in the jump-off, Spooner knew his chances for the win were good, and he had some room to take his time and make sure he came home clean. He did just that, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 43.680.

Spooner had the next ride for his wife Kaylen Spooner, when he returned with Pako. The pair also came home clean in 44.882 to move into second place.

The HITS Desert Circuit’s all-time leading money winner then returned aboard his final mount of the jump-off, Peter Farlinger’s Cordoba. They were fast and clean making the dash for the cash in 41.523 to become the new class leader and eventually win the class.

Sitting in the enviable last-to-ride spot was Guy Thomas and Peterbilt, LLC’s Peterbilt. The pair chipped at the second fence of the jump-off and voluntarily withdrew from the class to finish in fourth place.

“It was a very good course,” said Spooner. “All of the courses this week were great. I am looking forward to having Marina back in Thermal next year.”

Spooner was not the only Grand Prix rider to compliment the course designer this week as she drew rave reviews from Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood. “I thought Mariana was very thorough and thoughtful,” said Henselwood. “There were no refusals in the Grand Prix and she had faults all over the course. She deserves plenty of compliments.”

Henselwood was one of 13 horse/rider combinations to have four faults in the first round, as she finished in ninth place aboard Juniper Farm’s Special Ed and 11th aboard Stacie Ryan’s Black Ice.

The fastest of the riders with four faults was Eddie Macken and Samia Staehle’s Tedachine Sept as they rounded out the top five placings in Sunday’s feature class.

Show jumping at HITS Thermal continues next week with Desert Circuit VIII and will feature a full week of classes including the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Classic, $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, $25,000 HITS Grand Prix and the $150,000 Grand Prix of the Desert. This will conclude the Thermal Desert Circuit for 2009.

The $150,000 Grand Prix of the Desert is the crown-jewel of the Grand Prix schedule and will feature some of the finest riders in the world, including Henselwood and Spooner.

“I am going to compete in both Friday and Sunday’s Grand Prix,” said Henselwood. “Both of my horses are fresh and ready to go and earn some nice winnings at the end of the circuit.”

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 Credit: ©Flying Horse Photography

Photo Caption: Richard Spooner is on course during the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix


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