Horses and riders returned to the show grounds at HITS Desert Horse Park for another spectacular season of shows at the Coachella Desert Circuit. The week kicked off with the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome and the $25,000 SmartPak Open Prix.

The order of go was stacked in Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Open Prix, but it would be Richard Spooner aboard Cristallo, owned by Show Jumping Syndications International, to take home the top prize. The victory was won in a thrilling jump-off where the top places were divided by mere fractions of seconds.

Thirty-two challengers tried their hand at the course and the field would narrow to 16 for the jump-off. Nine would go clean in the jump-off, leaving the winning place on the leaderboard all up to speed.

Spooner was fourth in the order in the 16-horse jump-off, and knew that a lightning-fast and clear round score would have to be set in order to hold up to the rest of the field. They sped through the timers in 38.177, a time that would withstand 12 more trips for the win.

Second-place went to Olympian Will Simpson and The Dude, owned by Nicole Walker. Simpson and his mount immediately followed Spooner in the jump-off, knowing they would have to beat their solid round with a quick, clear trip. They blazed through the course and finished in 38.880 with all of the rails up, just a tenth of a second shy of Spooner.

Ashley Bond returned eighth in the jump-off order with Ace of Hearts, owned by Little Valley Farm.They powered to the finish to score a cool, clear round in 39.272, ultimately earning them third place. Bond would score two more ribbons on the day, rounding out the top-five with Cornanacer with a clear round in 39.530 seconds, and placing ninth with Chela LS, both owned by Little Valley Farm.

Fourth place went home with Lindsay Archer aboard Camerone, owned by Rhys Farm, LLC. Archer was eleventh in the order and put down a clean, 39.413-second round, another contender just fractions off the place before them.

$5,000 JHT Open Welcome
Martin Otto of Germany set a challenging course in the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome to kick off the circuit. Tiffany Sullivan would take home the first blue ribbon of the season aboard Christian Grey, owned by Haley Farms, LLC— claiming the win with the only clear first round.

First to contest the course was Lisa Carlsen riding her first of two mounts in the class, Parette, owned by WJ Partners. They would finish the course with eight faults in 89.257 for the eventual fifth place.

Jenni McAllister followed with Legis Venice, but the mid-course combination, an element of the course that would prove trouble for almost every trip, foiled their shot at a jump-off round. They finished with four faults in 83.016 for the eventual third-place prize.

The third trip, Michelle Parker and Doriena, owned by Idyllic Imports, tried their hand at the course but once again, the challenging combination thwarted their shot at the jump-off. They finished the course wth 4 faults and a time of 85.649 for fourth place.

Just as it seemed there might not be a clear round in the class that day, Tiffany Sullivan and Christian Grey entered the ring. They soared through first-round track, clocking in clear to advance to the jump-off. They finished the abbreviated course with a single rail in 41.340.

Nobody could match Sullivan’s ride, including second-place rider Lisa Carlsen who scored the red ribbon with her second mount of the class, World’s Judgement, owned by WJ Partners.

$25,000 SmartPak Open Prix
Place/Horse/Owner/Rider/Prize/R.1 Faults/J.O Faults/J.O Time
1 Cristallo/Show Jumping Syndications/Richard Spooner/$7,500/0/0/38.171
2 The Dude/Nicole Walker/William Simpson/$5,500/0/0/38.880
3 Ace of Hearts/Little Valley Farms/Ashlee Bond/$3,250/0/0/39.272
4 Camerone/Rhys Farm, LLC/Lindsay Archer/$2,000/0/0/39.530
5 Cornancer/Little Valley Farms/Ashlee Bond/$1,500/0/0/39.530
6 Cat Balou/Tamie Phillips/Tamie Phillips/$1,250/0/0/39.983
7 Colour Your Life/Peter/Pam Bilek Petschenig/Peter Petschenig/$1,000/0/0/40.874
8 Cruise/Indigo Farms, LLC/Chris Pratt/$750/0/0/41.660
9 Chela LS/Little Valley Farms/Ashlee Bond/$750/0/0/41.937
10 NJK No Regret/NJK Show Jumpers, Inc/Nicole Hauntert/$500/0/4/43.940
11 NKH Calango/NKH, LLC/Christian Heineking/$500/0/4/44.298
12 Rocky W/Kaitlyn Campbell/Kaitlyn Campbell/$500/0/4/45.935

$5,000 JHT Open Welcome
Place/Horse/Owner/Rider/Prize/R.1 Faults/J.O Faults/J.O Time
1 Christian/Grey/Tiffany Sullivan/Tiffany Sullivan/$1,500/0/4/41.340
2 World’s Judgment/WJ Partners/Lisa Carlsen/$1,000/4/-/-
3 Legis Venice/ McAllister/$700/4/-/-
4 Doriena Idyllic Imports Michelle Parker $500/4/-/-
5 Parette/WJ Partners/Lisa Carlsen/$400/8/-/-
6 NKH Quanto October Hill/HuntersJumpers/Christian Heineking/$350/22/-/-