Rich Fellers and Flexible Top $85,000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.55m at Spruce Meadows

By Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc

Calgary, AB, Canada – July 2, 2014 – The Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament CSI 5* kicked off on Wednesday with a big schedule in the International Ring to continue a fantastic summer series in Calgary. The $85,000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.55m competition was the feature event of the evening with a win for Rich Fellers (USA) and Flexible. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Fine Lady 5 got a win in the $33,500 ATCO Energy Solutions Cup 1.50m, Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Picolo won the $33,500 AON Cup 1.45m, and Will Simpson (USA) and Axl-Rose began the day with victory in the $33,500 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m.

The ‘North American’ Tournament continues through July 6, featuring the $210,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday, July 5, and the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic 1.50m Derby on Sunday, July 6. Highlights also include the $85,000 Progress Energy Cup 1.55m on Thursday, July 3, as well as the $85,000 TD Cup 1.50m on Saturday, July 5, and the $85,000 Enbridge Cup 1.50m on Sunday, July 6.

Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela is the course designer in the International Ring for this week’s ‘North American’ competition. In Wednesday’s highlight $85,000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.55m, Palacios saw 44 entries with eight very fast horse and rider combinations advancing to the jump-off and four double clear rounds.

Pablo Barrios (VEN) and ZL Group Inc.’s Zara Leandra were the first pair to clear the short course without fault in 46.28 seconds to eventually finish second. Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Hyperion Stud LLC’s Imothep jumped clear in 49.32 seconds to place fourth. Jonathan McCrea (USA) and Candy Tribble’s Special Lux stopped the clock in 47.01 seconds to take third place honors. Last to go, Rich Fellers and Harry and Mollie Chapman’s Flexible raced to the winning time of 45.35 seconds.

Flexible, the amazing 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion (Cruising x Safari) and 2012 FEI World Cup Finals Champion, proved that he has still got it. Fellers explained that the win was even more incredible as Flexible came back this year after a big set back after last summer’s ‘Continental’ Tournament.


Rich Fellers and Flexible

I have been trying to sort out some things with him, and obviously age is not one of those things,” Fellers stated. “He had a real serious problem last year with a blood clot. They said he was finished, but it has been sorted out. He had a huge blood clot in his aorta and femoral artery going to his right hind leg, and he would exercise about two and a half minutes at the trot and go crippled lame. His right hind leg would cramp up. I think that’s behind him.”

The hard part is that, emotionally, it has been difficult for me to put all that behind me and just not worry,” Feller admitted. “I’m very attached to the horse. I’ve had him a long time and the last thing I want to do is put him through any kind of pain. It’s just sorting out the blood clot issue, and it took a lot of time. Then thinking about why am I even doing this? He’s 18 years old, but he just loves it. He craves it; it’s all he knows. Fortunately I have an incredible vet. It didn’t take long to diagnose it. When he was seven, he had a blood clot in the front leg. It was a similar thing. It was pretty easy to figure out.”

Flexible had excellent veterinary care and eventually, Fellers and the Chapmans opted not to perform any kind of risky surgery. The horse went on blood thinners that have gotten him back to the show ring.

We sent him down to UC Davis, and he was there for four weeks,” Fellers detailed. “They had human cardiologists involved, and we had conference calls. They basically said, ‘No horse has ever recovered from this. We can lay him down and do a five-hour surgery. He could possibly retire comfortably to stand at stud. The clot won’t go away. We can slow down the clotting so it doesn’t get bigger, but we can’t get rid of it, other than going in surgically.’ They said there was no chance. I told Harry and Mollie, the owners, that I think if you lay him down for five hours, I don’t think he’s gonna get up. That’s tough on a horse. So I said, ‘Why don’t we just put him on blood thinners and see what happens?’ And it worked, miraculously. They still can’t believe it at UC Davis. They’ve never seen it. 60-70% of the clotting just disappeared. They don’t know where it went.”

After getting Flexible back in the ring, winning Wednesday’s class was very momentous for Fellers. It has also been quite a while since he won a class in Spruce Meadows’ International Ring.

“It’s difficult to describe. It’s almost unreal,” the rider acknowledged. “You look at the history of the sport, and an 18-year-old horse at the top of the sport is so rare. You see them occasionally, but they’re not usually winning those kind of classes. I just feel so fortunate. I can’t even explain how lucky and fortunate I feel to have him going as well as he’s going.”

Heading into the jump-off, Fellers did not get a chance to watch the leader, Pablo Barrios, over the short course. He just went with his plan.


Rich Fellers in his winning presentation with Paul Boundy,
Vice President, Business Development Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial

“I didn’t really have any kind of feel other than experience, and I have a lot of that,” Fellers smiled. “My wife said Pablo was fast everywhere, so I just went fast everywhere. Flexible is fast. There’s just no getting around it. If I let him gallop and I don’t mess things up for him, he is fast across the ground and he is fast in the air and he turns very quickly. He’s easy to ride at speed because he likes to go fast. There weren’t a lot of options in that jump-off course. To the last fence, you could have cut inside and angled to it, but I had enough momentum over the yellow oxer that I just didn’t feel like it was fair to 18-year-old Flexible to crank him to the right to get inside there, so I just let him sweep around.”

The pair galloped down to the last fence and cleared it to the cheer of the crowd. With Flexible back in winning form, Fellers looks forward to Saturday’s $210,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup, which the pair finished second in, in both 2011 and 2012. As a good omen for the weekend, they also won this same class leading up to the grand prix both years as well. Fellers plans to stay with the winning formula.

Another Win for Lamaze and Fine Lady 5

The $33,500 ATCO Energy Solutions Cup 1.50m was held in the afternoon with a 16-horse jump-off out of 47 first round starters. Only four competitors were able to clear the short course without fault, where Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Artisan Farms LLC’s Fine Lady 5 took top prize.

Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Victor, owned by Torrey Pines & Artisan Farms LLC, were first to jump-off and set the pace at 46.03 seconds to finish fourth. McLain Ward (USA) upped the ante in 44.44 seconds, next to go with Carl Rijcken’s d’Ulien van de Smeets, to eventually place second. He was bested a few rounds later by Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 in a blazing 43.03 seconds. Ian Millar (CAN) completed the only other double clear round in 44.53 seconds with Susan and Ariel Grange’s Dixson to finish third.

Fine Lady 5 is a brand new ride for Lamaze, but the pair has already won two classes with several other top finishes at this summer’s tournaments. The 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Hauptstutbuch) had lots of success with her previous rider, Holger Wulschner of Germany, and Lamaze explained that he knew they would be a great match.


Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5

“She was winning way before she met me,” he stated. “She has been a winner for a long time. With her previous rider, she did nothing but win. I’m just getting what the other rider had. I don’t think I’ve added anything to it. It is a horse that I knew I was going to click with for sure. That type of horse you definitely have to click with, but one thing she knows is how to win, so it took a very short time to get together.”

Detailing his speedy jump-off round, Lamaze noted, “I didn’t see McLain go, but he is really a fast rider. I know him well and I knew that this was going to be a fast jump-off, but I was sitting on the right horse. She is incredibly fast, and she is really careful. I knew that the turn at the top end meant a lot for me. She doesn’t have the longest stride, so the long gallop is the hardest part, but in the roll back and the turns she is extremely quick. I went from fence one to two nicely fast and then I really risked that turn at the top end. The skinny I went quite fast to and then risked that turn again and then got a really forward ride to the last fence to be quick.”

“Sometimes it’s the distance that you see that determines how fast you go,” he continued. “The opportunity is not always in front of you to take, other than doing something really stupid and risking something. This time it was there to be a fast last fence. A vertical or an oxer, it doesn’t really matter for her. She is just so careful.”


Eric Lamaze in his winning presentation with Patrick Creaghan,
President, ATCO Energy Solutions

“She reminds of riding Hickstead at this height,” Lamaze acknowledged. “She is just so careful and the jumps are sort of just in your way. You don’t have any worries of knocking them down. It’s like she has eyes in her legs. She knows where the poles are, so as a rider you just have to put her in security and not do anything stupid. That’s my job.”

Simpson and Kenny Top 1.45m Speed Rounds 

Wednesday’s competition began in the morning with the $33,500 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m in the International Ring. The one round speed course saw 61 entries in total with 21 clear rounds. Will Simpson (USA) completed the fastest clear clear round in 61.98 seconds for the win aboard Monarch International’s Axl-Rose, a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Ti Amo van het Lambroeck x Forever).

Richard Spooner (USA) and Maxine and Robert Jack’s Zaprilia M finished second in 62.29 seconds. Nick Dello Joio (USA) took third place honors with Coker Farm’s Contiki in 62.85 seconds. Simpson also finished fourth aboard Monarch International’s Warrant in 63.07 seconds.

Axl-Rose is another horse that Simpson is showing for owner Hannah von Heidegger after the rider had a fall last week. Although Simpson has ridden Axl-Rose before, Wednesday was his first time competing the gelding.


Will Simpson and Axl-Rose

He thinks he’s a rock star. He came with that name, but it fits him well,” Simpson stated after their win. “The last class he rode, he had a little bobble, so I didn’t know what to expect. He’s very game. He was very, very quick across the ground. He’s not shaken up at all, and he is ready to go.”

“He was a little bit rambunctious in the schooling area,” Simpson detailed. “He was acting like he wanted to accelerate after the jump, and I didn’t really want him to. My plan, I said, ‘Ok, I’m just going to let you go,’ and I did. By the end he was waiting for me like a gentleman. It worked out really good today.”

Simpson also had a great round with his mount Warrant and was happy with two top finishes to kick of the ‘North American’ Tournament.

“I can’t even remember the last time I won in International Ring,” he stated. “I am really happy with both of those horses. I’m really happy that Axl is jumping and responding. Warrant – that was the first time I’ve shown him FEI for quite a while. I just got him last year. I was thrilled with him. I just chickened out to the skinny; I made a little bit of a wide turn there. It’s good to be back in the International Ring.”

The $33,500 AON Cup 1.45m speed competition followed with a win for Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Oakland Ventures LLC’s Picolo. Fifty-four entries showed with 20 clear rounds. Kenny and the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Alme) stopped the clock in 54.17 seconds. Colombia’s John Perez guided Utopia to second place honors in 56.68 seconds. Venezuela’s Pablo Barrios placed third in 57.24 seconds aboard The Romeo Group’s Romeo.

Before his round with Picolo, Kenny had the opportunity to see some of the competition and plan his ride accordingly. In particular, he watched the very fast round of Shane Sweetnam and Cyklon 1083, who had an unfortunate rail to finish out of the ribbons.

Darragh Kenny and Picolo

“Picolo is just really fast. I went as fast as he could go, and he was very good today,” Kenny stated. “I knew that Shane had been very fast. He went in 55 (seconds), but had the last jump down. His horse and my horse are quite similar in the speed they can go. The leading time was 56, so I knew if I just stayed on it the whole way, he should be able to do it. I had a plan from the start, and I stuck with it. I think it’s a good way to do it. I just look at someone who’s usually pretty fast and see what their time was, how many strides they did, how fast they were, and what I need to do to be faster. It worked out great.”

He’s a real winner,” Kenny said of Picolo. “He just keeps doing as much as I ask him. The horse was a genius when I bought him. He teaches me things. From the day I got him, he has always been a winner. He doesn’t need to improve on anything. I might need to improve, but he doesn’t. He is so fast that a couple of the days I went too fast. I just figured out that to be really fast on him, I actually don’t need to go so fast at the start. I need to not think about it too much, just get going at a nice pace and he picks it up.”

Picolo jumped his first 1.50m competition at Spruce Meadows in last week’s ‘Canada One’ Tournament and Kenny hopes to step him up to that height again this week.


Darragh Kenny in his winning presentation

The ‘North American’ Tournament continues on Thursday with a full schedule of competition in the International Ring starting with the $33,500 Suncast Cup 1.45m. The day will also feature the $35,000 PwC Cup 1.50m and the $85,000 Progress Energy Cup 1.55m. For more information and full results, please visit

Final Results: $85,000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.55m

1 FLEXIBLE: Irish Sport Horse / S / 18 Cruising x Safari
RICH FELLERS (USA), Harry & Mollie Chapman: 0/0/45.35

2 ZARA LEANDRA: Dutch Warmblood / M / 10 Metropole x Ahorn
PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), ZL Group Inc: 0/0/46.28

3 SPECIAL LUX: Irish Sport Horse / G / 10 Lux x Coille Mor Hill
JONATHAN MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/0/47.01

4 IMOTHEP: Dutch Warmblood / S / 11 Indoctro x Calvados
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Hyperion Stud LLC: 0/0/49.32

5 CRISTALLO: Holstein / G / 16 Caretino x Cicero
RICHARD SPOONER (USA), Show Jumping Syndication Intl: 0/4/46.20

6 SKOVLUNDEGAARDS CASSIUS: Warmblood / G / 11 Casir Ask x Waldstern
SANTIAGO LAMBRE (MEX), Santiago Lambre: 0/4/49.27

7 MARK Q: Irish Sport Horse / G / 12 OBOS Quality 004 x Positively
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington: 0/8/48.17

8 SOUTHWIND VDL: Dutch Warmblood / G / 15 Baloubet de Rouet x Ahorn
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Tiffany Foster & Artisan Farms LLC: 0/10/57.94

9 SHOWGIRL: Selle Francais / M / 14 Gold de Becourt x Elf III
YANN CANDELE (CAN), Watermark Group: 1/77.21

10 VOYEUR: Dutch Warmblood / G / 12 Tolaro Vant Riethof x Goodwill
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Amalya Investments: 1/77.41

11 QUIN CHIN: Holstein / G / 16 Quantum x Gambiona
JUAN CARLOS FRANCO (MEX), Juan Carlos Franco: 1/77.99

12 HH COPIN VAN DE BROY: Belgian Warmblood / S / 12 Darco x Brown Boy
QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 1/78.59

Final Results: $33,500 ATCO Energy Solutions Cup 1.50m

1 FINE LADY 5: Hanoverian / M / 11 Forsyth x Hauptstutbuch
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 0/0/43.03

2 D’ULIEN VAN DE SMEETS: Belgian Warmblood / M / 11 Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Darco
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Susan Heller & McLain Ward: 0/0/44.44

3 DIXSON: Belgian Warmblood / G / 11 Vigo D Arsouilles x Olisco
IAN MILLAR (CAN), Susan & Ariel Grange: 0/0/44.53

4 VICTOR: Dutch Warmblood / G / 12 Elmshorn x Grandeur
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Torrey Pines & Artisan Farms: 0/0/46.03

5 ZIGALI PS: Dutch Warmblood / G / 10 Kigali x Palfrenier
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 0/2/54.17

6 MATADOR: Dutch Warmblood / S / 12 Indoctro x Corland
JAIME AZCARRAGA (MEX), Jaime Azcarraga: 0/4/48.69

7 VALESKA: Belgian Warmblood / M / 9 Vigo d’Arsouilles x Heartbreaker
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/4/48.74

8 WANNICK WH: Dutch Warmblood / S / 11 Heartbreaker x Joost
CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/4/50.89

9 QUILEBO DU TILLARD: Selle Francais / G / 10 For Pleasure x Quat Sous
ENRIQUE GONZALEZ (MEX), Enrique Gonzalez: 0/5/53.70

10 HH DONNATELLA: Belgian Warmblood / M / 11 Toulon x Mr. Blue
QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 0/8/47.08

11 FINEMAN: Swedish Warmblood / G / 11 Feliciano x Beach Boy
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Sweet Oak Farm: 0/8/50.65

12 EXACTO LS: Warmblood / G / 9 Carthago Z x Accord II
DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Blue Star Investments: 0/8/56.27

Final Results: $33,500 AON Cup 1.45m

1 PICOLO: Selle Francais / G / 11 Diamant De Semilly x Alme
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Oakland Ventures LLC: 0/54.175

2 UTOPIA: Dutch Warmblood / M / 13 Ircolando x Notaris
JOHN PEREZ (COL), John Perez: 0/56.687

3 ROMEO: Dutch Warmblood / G / 16 Cantero x Gardeulan II
PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), The Romeo Group: 0/57.249

4 PICCOBELLO DU VAL DE GEER: Belgian Warmblood / M / 15 Kannan x Skippy II
JORDAN MACPHERSON (CAN), JEM Stables: 0/57.286

5 INDIANA 127: Dutch Warmblood / G / 12 Indoctro x Voltaire
ANGEL KAROLYI (VEN), Hollow Creek Farm: 0/57.394

6 CHANEL: Dutch Warmblood / M / 10 Chin Chin x Damiro
ROBERTO TERAN (COL), ARK Partners LLC: 0/57.646

7 TAM TAM HERO: Belgian Warmblood / S / 11 Ogano Sitte x Kebah
ROBERTO TERAN (COL), ARK Partners LLC: 0/58.420

8 WAOMI: Dutch Warmblood / M / 11 Lupicor x Boreas
MEAGAN NUSZ (USA), Amalya Investments: 0/58.759

9 CHAQUI Z: Zangersheide / S / 8 Chacco Blue x Quilana Z
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 0/59.913

10 LAPACCO: Holstein / G / 15 Lavaletto x Grundyman
WESLEY NEWLANDS (CAN), Weslands Farm: 0/60.333

11 ROSANA DU PARK: Dutch Warmblood / M / 9 Kannan x Ukase
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines: 0/60.600

12 HH WHISKY ROYALE: Zangersheide / G / 9 Wonderful Vant Beugelhof x Kannan
QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 0/62.254

Final Results: $33,500 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m

1 AXL-ROSE: Belgian Warmblood / G / 14 Ti Amo van het Lambroeck x Forever
WILL SIMPSON (USA), Monarch International: 0/61.98

2 ZAPRILIA M: Dutch Warmblood / S / 10 Chin Chin x Silvio I
RICHARD SPOONER (USA), Maxine and Robert Jack: 0/62.29

3 CONTIKI: Swedish Warmblood / G / 8 Contendro x Calido I
NICK DELLO JOIO (USA), Coker Farm: 0/62.85

4 WARRANT: Dutch Warmblood / S / 11 Numero Uno x Nimmerdor
WILL SIMPSON (USA), Monarch International: 0/63.07

5 ANEMONES VICKY: Dutch Warmblood / M / 12 Krunch de Breve x Animo
HECTOR FLORENTINO (DOM), Stranskys Mission Farms: 0/63.65

6 WORLDS JUDGEMENT: Dutch Warmblood / M / 11 Judgement x Farmer
LISA CARLSEN (CAN), Alycia Hayes: 0/64.65

7 CORCEGA LA SILLA: Holstein / M / 10 Casall la Silla x Candillo
ANTONIO CHEDRAUI (MEX), Antonio Chedraui: 0/64.69

8 ZANDOR: Warmblood / S / 10 Oklund x Ulster
LUIS ALEJANDRO PLACENSIA (MEX), Luis Gerardo Plascencia: 0/64.84

9 LUX LADY: Irish Sport Horse / M / 9 Lux Z x Master Imp
RICH FELLERS (USA), Harry & Mollie Chapman: 0/66.16

10 SHORAPUR: Hanoverian / M / 9 Stakkato Gold x Drosselklang II
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Shorapur LLC: 0/66.59

11 BONIUS DE LAUBRY: Belgian Sport Horse / S / 13 Cento x Skippy II
JUAN JOSE ZENDEJAS (MEX), Haras de Laubry: 0/67.15

12 HER COURCHEVEL: Swedish Warmblood / G / 13 Camaro M x Cortez
SUSAN HORN (CAN), Kingsfield Farm: 0/67.66

Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the brainchild of the Southern family who built a Show Jumping complex at the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. It was in 1976 that the first Spruce Tournaments were held, with annual spectator attendances reaching over 50,000 by the end of the decade. Today, Spruce Meadows boasts one of the greatest outdoor equestrian venues in the world and offers an incredible experience for riders and fans alike. Spruce Meadows focuses on the organization and hosting of show jumping tournaments of unmatched quality for junior, amateur and professional athletes in a manner that reflects basic family values in a clean, green and welcoming environment that celebrates the horse and encourages the breeding and training of quality sport horses and the teaching and development of athletes. For more information on Spruce Meadows, please visit

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