Maggie McAlary Wins Inaugural George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation
RELEASE: March 20, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Brian Sosby
Wellington, FL—With the glamour and pressure of riding before judges of Olympians under lights in the International Arena, Maggie McAlary won the inaugural George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation at the CN Winter Equestrian Festival presented by Zimmerman Advertising last Friday night.
Forty-five riders from 12 states and Canada were selected from dozens of entries to compete. "The standard was tops,” said Morris.
McAlary, 18, of Amherst, NH, rode the first two rounds on Cadeau, a horse she borrowed just for that class from her trainer, Andre Dignelli.
But the third round of the Final Four, in which the riders switched horses as decided by the judges, had McAlary aboard Sundance, owned by Kimberly McCormack of Clermont, NJ, who placed second.
The competition was created to honor Morris, a legendary horseman whose career has seen him as a teenage star to an Olympian to chef d'equipe of the U.S. Equestrian Team for the past four years. Morris wrote the book on the class he presided over Friday night.
The event was glamorous from the start, with 14 of the top 20 riders—including the top three—from the Bates Equitation Rankings list.
And the judges' panels of George Morris paired with reigning Olympic Gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa and Olympian Melanie Smith Taylor and Jimmy Torano making up the other panel with Olympian Anne Kursinski watching over the schooling area was enhanced with the addition of 2008 Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios setting the obstacles.
After the first round, 12 riders came back for a second and more difficult course that Morris and Palacios created before the judges settled on the Final Four.
In addition to Maggie McAlary and Kimberly McCormack, Hillary McNerny of Lake Forest, IL, and Carolyn Curcio of West Islip, NY, were brought back to the ring then swapped horses as determined by the judges. McNerny finished in third place with Curcio fourth.