The Master of Faster, Richard Spooner, galloped in style to his first win in the International Ring for the 2012 season, taking top prize in the 1.45 meter Atco Pipelines Cup. He was riding Billy Bianca, an 11-year- old Dutch warmblood mare owned by Molly Ohrstrom.
The other two Americans who rode away victorious have been making show jumping news all winter for two very different reason.
Two-time Olympian McLain Ward is trying to make a comeback after suffering an injury back in January that has kept him out of competition until last month. He has only two observation competitions to prove to the USA selection committee he is worthy of representing his country for the third time.
Ward, last to go in the jump-off, bested a field of seven to take the top prize money of $8,000, riding Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve in the 1.50 metre Prairie Mines & Royalty Cup.
During the news conference that followed, Ward spoke candidly about being sidelined from competition for four months as he recovered from breaking his knee cap in over 20 pieces. The normal recovery time allocated for this type of injury is usually six to eight months and Ward was back in the saddle in four.
When asked about his own skill and whether he felt rusty, he said he has never been away from riding for more than seven days, and that was for his honeymoon!
He says four months was hard, but he stayed focused and determined to improve through therapy and rehabilitation.
As far as his horses not competing for four months, they were exercised and continued to train. Some enjoyed the break, however his mount for this event found the break from competition harder, he thrives on constant work.
Ward is attending Spruce Meadows where he will be competing in two classes next week that the U.S.A. Olympic selection committee has chosen as the final observation for London.
Ward missed the selection trials that took place in Florida in March but won last week in Devon, PA the third observation class.
Two Canadian also advanced to the Jump Off in the 1.50 class, Mac Cone ended up fourth over all on his new ride, Capone I, formerly piloted by American Kyle King. Capone is owned by Corrine Super from BC.
The reins were handed over last December where Cone spent the winter in Florida preparing Capone for Canada's observation committee. Cone says he feels great and the partnership is coming a long nicely.
Another Canadian with a new mount was Eric Lamaze. He showed Hunters Scendix, a nine-year-old black Hanoverian stallion in the 1.50 metre jumper, he advanced to the jump-off and finished seventh overall.
The other American rider making news wherever she goes is teen sensation Reed Kessler, the winner of the last class of the day, the Spectra Energy Cup.
This dynamo is only 17 years of age and is tied for the lead after the USA team held their selection trials in March during the Florida circuit. This young rider enters the ring she is cool, calm and collected. She is leading in points over veteran riders like Madden and Deslaurier, but she is taking it all in stride and wants to be considered for the Olympics based on her performance, regardless of her age.
The 1.60 meter class was full of tall and wide tests and full of Olympic calibre horses that showed why their riders are steering them towards the Olympic Games.
Only a field of 19 riders attempted the course set by Guilherme Jorge from Brazil. Ten horses and riders went clear over the first course and advance to the jump-off that offered galloping opportunities and options for quick turn backs if you were brave enough to take the risks. Like Ward, Kessler is attending Spruce Meadows to ride in the final observation classes that will be run next week. She has arrived a week early to acclimatize her horses to the magnitude of the international Ring and the grass footing.
Kessler's win tonight was aboard Cylana a 10 year old Belgian warmblood mare. The win tonight is her first in the International Ring at Spruce Meadow
Kudos for the Canadian entered Thursday. Eric Lamaze rode both his new horses, Verdi and Derly Chin De Muze to zero faults. Mac Come on Unanimous and Tiffany Foster on Victor also posted clear rounds. The final ribbon placing went as follows:
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- Reed Kessler riding Cylana
- Robert Whitaker and USA Today
- Eric Lamaze on Derly Chin De Muze
- Eric Lamze on Verdi
- Federico Fernandez riding Victoria
- Tiffany Foster on Victor
- Mac Cone riding Unanimous