Jessica Springsteen Wins the ASPCA Maclay Championship
RELEASE: November 6, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Phelps Media Group
The first round of the ASPCA Maclay Championship began at 6:30 a.m. on Novembe 1 at the Syracuse Sporthorse Invitational Tournament featuring The 125th National Horse Show. Judges Leo Conroy and Jimmy Torano watched 150 riders tackle the first-round course they designed. Later in the day, Conroy and Torano invited back the top 25 riders to compete in a second jumping round.
The best of the 150 competitors was Jessica Springsteen. Springsteen went eighth in the first round, and was able to watch the first few riders go on the monitor. This allowed her to see how the course rode. She had no problem going so early in the class because she has a tendency to over-think things if she goes toward the end.
The course was very technical and really tested the rider's ability. The course called for a lot of shortening and lengthening of stride complete with tight turns, roll backs, and long run single fences. It required a forward, aggressive ride, and the exhibitors rose to the challenge.
"I had a couple courses coming in, and Leo had a course as well," said Torano. "We kind of gelled them together, and we went to Richard (Jeffery) and asked if it was going to work. It did. We were lucky; it fit exactly like we had planned."
Andre Dignelli commented on the course as well. "I thought the courses were some of the better courses we have seen in a long time," said Dignelli. "I think any good horse and rider could do it, and any weak horse and rider could survive it. I thought it was good."
Missy Clark added, "I loved the courses. I thought they were both fantastic. They made you ride forward to start and show your ability to do all the transitions from forward to downward, and it had smooth curves. I thought they were both absolutely fantastic courses."
Going into the second round, Springsteen was the last to go of 25 riders and was in first place. Following the completion of the second round, four riders were invited back into the ring for further testing. Those riders included Jessica Springsteen, Victoria Birdsall, Zazou Hoffman, and Christy DiStefano. The test asked the riders to canter a fence, counter canter a second fence, canter two more jumps, hand gallop another, halt and sit the trot back into line.
They were asked into the ring before the test was announced. This prevented the riders from conferring with their trainers and putting together a plan.
"I watched the three riders go before me and they were really good," said Springsteen. "I wanted to do something different, but I knew that I didn't have enough room to do a flying change. I just hoped he would hold it, (the counter canter) and he did."
Stacia Madden trains Springsteen, who is a past winner of the Maclay herself.
"We do a lot of practicing about what would happen in a situation like that. Jessie has had a lot of experience testing at shows like Devon where she has had to be on her own," said Madden. "I think she was pretty confident knowing what I would have told her to try and do. I am not exactly sure I would have had the same confidence to ask her horse to land right as she did. That is why in every situation, I give her options and say do what you feel. Jessie is such a good competitor and always makes the right choice."
Madden is a little superstitious and had a feeling about Springsteen's chances going into the competition.
"I have a big thing with karma. When they were doing the draw, John (Madden) said pick a good one. When they picked the number, Jessie's name went though my mind, and then the next number they pulled was hers," said Madden. "A good friend of mine's lucky number is eight, and she ended up going eighth."
Madden continued, "The year I won the Maclay, a little girl came up to me at 4:30 in the morning while I was sitting in the stands and asked me if I was the winner. So when that was happening for Jessie, I said I think ther