They say the best bosses are those willing to train their underlings to take their place. In between winning Saturday afternoon’s $50,000 FEI Grand Prix aboard Arthos R, and warming up Chatinus for the FEI Longines World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas class he won that night, Richard Spooner was working on just that. He and the USEF’s Young Rider chef d’equipe DiAnn Langer were strategizing about January’s Gold Star clinics for young jumper riders, where Richard will be a headliner horseman.
It’s clear the California veteran is happy to give time to tomorrow’s stars. It’s also clear he won’t be relinquishing show jumping’s corner office any time soon. Even though “I’m really still in the discovery phase with Chatinus,” Richard shaved nearly three seconds off the pace set by runners-up Alison Robataille and Serise Du Bidou. In only her second World Cup venture, amateur Karrie Rufer and Georgie D’Auvray EC hung with the pros to be among only three clear rounds and earn a third place finish.
Richard admitted to a “no-plan plan” for course designer Oscar Soberon’s jump-off. He didn’t walk it or give it much thought beforehand, instead trusting himself to “wing it to the best of my ability.” Throw in well over 100 Grand Prix victories’ worth of experience, and that kind of “planning” worked well. Greeting well-wishers through the weekend, Richard gave glimpses of his approach. “Just going to go out there and have a good time.”
Giving him a dominant lead in the West League standings, the November 18 victory was Richard’s third “good time,” aka “big win,” in Las Vegas. And it followed an outdoor victory just six days prior in the $200,000 HITS Sunshine Grand Prix—also with Chatinus. Indoors, outdoors--nothing seems to phase the overnight equine star by the popular show jumping sire Chacco Blue.
Richard only began riding the 11 year old Hannoverian in September and admits he’s in “new territory” as “never having had it that easy before.” They won big together right away and Richard is happily “checking off boxes” that typically take months, if not years, to mark. The one exception is steering, he said, even though Saturday night’s creative course demanded precision steering.
Richard promised he would not advocate a “no plan plan” for the young riders in the Gold Star clinic, several of whom swarmed him at the autograph session later. “Just because I’m a hypocrite doesn’t mean I’m always wrong. I’m really looking forward to being part of that educational series. It’s a great group of kids and it’s phenomenal what’s has been organized already.”
Noting the several other top Grand Prix riders also committed to the Gold Star clinic, the always humble and humorous Richard concluded, “My only regret is that I won’t be able to ride in the clinic myself!”