Colourful ‘Show Your Spirit’ Groups! -Photo by Keara

The Sunday at the National tournament is always a great day. Not only is there the fun of the ATCO Structure and Logistics Double Slalom (probably one of my favourite classes ever- basically a horse race over jumps…what could be more fun?!) and the Nexen Cup Derby, but the Calgary Sun ‘Show Your Spirit’ groups are in full swing.

After each round of the Double Slalom it was impossible to hear yourself think over the cheers of the exuberant show jumping fans. It is great to see that kind of excitement! A big call out to todays big winner, ‘The Dance Centre”, but also to my ‘home town’ pony clubs, Delacour and Pegasus- you guys all looked great!

$40,000 ATCO Stuctures and Logistics Double Slalom- 1.50m Table C, Knock Out:

Robert Whitaker (GBR) in black and Eduardo Menezes (BRA) in yellow. A close finish! -Photo by Keara

Like I said, the double slalom is basically a horse race. The International Ring is divided in half and the two identical courses mirror each other. Both riders start pointing away from the first fence and, when the light turns green (it’s literally a traffic light with red/yellow/green), do a quick turn around a barrier and start the course. Knock downs and refusals are penalized by 3 seconds, but in the case of a refusal, the fence is not attempted again.

As always, Sunday’s class was very entertaining. I was a little worried about how the ground would hold up with so many identical tracks after last nights rain, but the grounds crew did a great job tamping down chewed up turf. 16 pairs would start the first round with the winner of each pairing moving on to the next round; this continued until the field was whittled down to just two riders – Robert Whitaker (GBR) and Eduardo Menezes (BRA). Although they were very very close crossing the finish line, it would be Whitaker who would walk away with the $15,000 first place cheque.

Carla Diewert (CAN) on the yellow course and Vani Khosla (USA) on the black. -Photo by Keara

Robert Whitaker and Waterstone win the ATCO Structures and Logistics Double Slalom. -Photo by Keara

While I’m on the subject of Robert Whitaker, I should also mention that he won the Spruce Meadows Canadian Show Jumping Championship for his performance in classes throughout the tournament. His total winnings for the tournament was $52,890, not bad especially considering this is his first time at Spruce Meadows! It is also worth noting that Robert’s cousin, Ellen Whitaker, won it last year.

Congrats Robert! -Photo by Keara

Between 2007 and 2011, there were only 3 clear rounds in 105 attempts. Yesterday saw another 16 attempts added to that list…with no clears achieved. I was going to try and explain the individual jumps for you, but thought this was a better idea:

Course Walk

So, what happened? Well, 23 faults could get you in the top 10 and 12 faults into the top 3. Ouch, ya, that is how tough this course is! That devils dyke claimed an incredible amount of victims, as did the double liverpools. Whenever a pair made it through one of those two elements unscathed, the crowd when wild!

Coming in 6th on the order, Katie Prudent put in a respectable 9 fault round with the gorgeous Dutch Warmblood gelding V. They looked really really good and V handled most of the tough questions really well. Another thing I really like about this pair? V’s name! Much easier to type/spell/remember than most ! Just sayin…

Katie Prudent and V flying over the Canadian planks. -Photo by Keara

Two young ladies, one Canadian and one American, would also log very nice rounds with only 12 faults each. Femke van den Bosch (CAN) looked very solid on Tom Tom and was all smiles when she crossed the finish line. A big improvement over her 20 fault round last year, way to go! Lauren Tisbo (USA) was also glowing upon crossing the finish line after her ride with Creme Brulé. Once again, a huge improvement over her 36 fault ride last year! Unfortunately, they couldn’t both be given 3rd place for a great performance, so Lauren would come out ahead with her time of 154.76 over Femke’s 161.89.

Lauren Tisbo (USA) and Creme Brulé. -Photo by Keara

Femke van den Bosch (CAN) on Tom Tom. -Photo by Keara

The big winner of the class was Richard Spooner on the fantastic Cristallo. I know that some people don’t like Cristallo, but I’m definitely a fan. I can’t think of another horse who can compete in a big 1.60m Grand Prix on the Saturday (and make it into the jump-off, finishing 4th) and then come into the arena on the Sunday and jump around a massive derby course like it was nothing. That horse is a jumping machine! In the victory gallop, it looked like he could easily go another round just for fun. Anyways, it was really starting to look like Katie Prudent had the win, but with Richard Spooner coming in as the last rider with his second horse of the day (he put in a 17 fault round with Apache for 7th place), I don’t think anyone could look away.

Table top- no problem, double liverpools- easy peasy, bank-just a tiny hill, devils dyke- a hop, skip, and jump, Canadian planks- just a little speed bump….wow! Cristallo devoured the course and managed to leave everything standing! A clear round for the record books???? Ugh! One stupid time fault! Darn! Oh well, the $50,000 1st place purse should ease the burn a little.

Richard Spooner (USA) and Cristallo. -Photo by Keara

Congrats Richard and Cristallo! -Photo by Keara

Here is what the riders had to say about the course:

Press Conference- Nexen Cup Derby, Spruce Meadows- June 10, 2012

Well folks, that’s it from the Spruce Meadows National! Don’t despair though because we will be bringing you mega coverage from the Continental tournament next weekend (it won’t just be me!) where the Canadian, American, and Mexican teams will be naming their Olympic teams for London.

But before I go….

3 foals need names!

That’s right, it is the annual Spruce Meadows name the foal contest! There are 3 adorable little babies that need names. If your name is chosen, you win a trip to Spruce Meadows for the Masters tournament in September!

Keara