Derby Day at Spruce Meadows is always a fan favourite as riders tackle the derby course designed by the late FEI course designer Pamela Carruthers (GBR). Defending champion Richard Spooner (USA) would not ride the derby this year, having retired his derby partner Cristallo (19 years of age) last year.
This year, nineteen horse/rider combinations would tackle the tough track in hopes of making it to the winners circle. Since its’ beginning, only 21 clear rounds have been posted in 689 attempts on this derby course and today’s competitors looked to add to that. The rails were coming down throughout the course with many riders carrying forward eight or more faults as they crossed the finish line. Australia’s Rowan Willis changed that as he and Everse W crossed the finish line with just one time fault.
Only 21 clear rounds have been posted in this derby, and that would not change today. Despite great efforts from all the riders Rowan Willis (AUS) in his first derby took the win with one time fault. Andrew Kocher (USA) and Daniel Coyle (IRL) followed in second and third respectively – both with the only four faults of the day.
“All the hard work paid off and it was a great stage for it to pay off on,” said Willis on winning the Sun Life Financial Derby.
“Master of the Faster” Lives up to the Title
The Lafarge Cavalry Charge, the final leg of the 2018 Cavalry Charge Speed Series, started the final day of the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ CSI5*, presented by Rolex. Thirty-eight horse/rider combinations took on the track with current speed series point leader Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) and Chapilot set last to enter the ring.
Known by some as the “Master of the Faster”, Richard Spooner (USA) is always a force to be reckon with and today was no exception. He and Arthos R were contenders throughout the series and a tight turn back to the final line would land him at the top of the leader board with a time of 75.68s. Lambre would have a rail and finish in fifth but still collect enough overall points to become the 2018 Cavalry Charge Speed Series Champion.
“We are what we ride and as long as we have nice horses then we have opportunities to win,” said Spooner.