Grizzled vet shows young guns how it's done

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:12 AM ET

At 17 years of age, Richard Spooner's long-time mount Robinson is supposed to be showing his age.

Supposed to.

With the way the Hannoverian gelding zipped between the final two jumps in the jump-off of the Duke Energy Cup at the Spruce Meadows National last night, it's obvious there's plenty of sand left to go through the hourglass.

Robinson looked more like Afleet Alex coming to the wire after the final turn than a horse on the downside -- and the end result was the first-place finish and the $10,000 cheque.

"He's fresh as a daisy, 17 years old and just getting younger," Spooner said. "I can't put to words how proud I am of that horse and how proud I am to have been part of his career."

How many more years Robinson has left is up in the air -- Spooner has alluded the end will likely come this season or next -- but it's been one incredible run they've had as a team over the last decade.

"I know he's won about 40 Grand Prix and that's not counting all the other classes. We've been through that about 100 times," Spooner said.

The pair claimed the Canadian Championship at last year's National, a tough task every year, but even more difficult for a horse nearing the end of the line.

"With his retirement, it'll be when he tells me he's ready," Spooner said.

Rodrigo Pessoa, aboard Baloubet Du Rouet, was second and collected $5,000, while third place went to Markus Beerbaum and Constantin, $3,500.

PURE GOLDIKA: Speed kills.

Which is what the opposition is learning when McLain Ward hits the turf.

Ward, a silver-medal winner in the team event at the Athens Olympics, blazed through the jump-off course for a double-clear and won last night's Luscar Cup at the Spruce Meadows National.

Ward, riding Goldika 559, beat Lauren Hough by more than a second-and-a-half in the 13-rider jump-off to claim the $7,500 first-prize cheque.

Hough, riding Casadora, collected $4,200, while Kyle King and Riptide placed third ($2,800), Geir Gulliksen riding Clear-Rounds Then Party was fourth ($2,500) and Molly Ashe with Kroon Gravin was fifth ($1,875).

For Ward, winning the Luscar Cup was part of an ongoing story this week.

Ward finished fourth in the Duke Energy Cup last night as well.

On Wednesday, he claimed a pair of the smaller events and also finished fourth in the Enbridge Cup. Amazingly, those results all came on different horses.


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