Jessica Springsteen and Papillon 136 Capture George Morris Excellence in Equitation as Judged by USA Olympic Gold Medal Team
RELEASE: March 19, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Ken Braddick
Jessica Springsteen rode Papillon 136 to capture the George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation on the night of Friday, March 13, before the entire 2008 USA Olympic Gold medal team that judged the event at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
A crowd estimated at about 1,000 spectators and another 1,000 on a live Internet telecast watched the junior riders who qualified throughout the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival for the second annual competition named for the captain of Team USA jumping and who has written his own best selling author on equitation.
Jessica Springsteen of Colt's Neck, NJ, and the gelding on which she also won the 2008 Maclay Championship led from the first of two rounds of the George Morris title and triumphed in the Final Four ride-off.
Victoria Birdsall of Topsfield, MA, on Cheyenne, was second, Taylor Marie Harris of Grant's Pass, OR, on Sundance was third, and Schaefer Raposa of Wellington, FL, and Radscha A.W. rounded out the Final Four.
Thirty-four riders started the first round of the competition held in PBIEC's showcase International Arena after receiving a backpack and a George Morris Excellence in Equitation poster from Equestrian Sport Productions, which owns and manages the show grounds.
The riders had to turn in their mobile phones and were not allowed contact with anyone except other riders in the class and grooms as they posed for photos and walked the course created by the judges and PBIEC official course designer Anthony d'Ambrosio.
The Olympic team members who assessed their skills broke up into three panels—McLain Ward and Will Simpson, Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut and George Morris and Anne Kursinski. Lauren Hough, a member of USA's Sydney Olympic team in 2000 watched over the schooling area, which was positioned within the International Arena and thus visible to all.
Jessica Springsteen, 17, and Papillon led the event after both the first and second rounds, then clinched the victory with a faultless performance in the Final Four. The judges had the option of making the riders switch horses for the final ride-off but instead they let them ride their own horses over a re-designed course.
Although she felt comfortable on Papillon, whom she has rdden for three years, Jessica said she still was nervous. Without the presense of trainers during the entire class, the riders helped each other.
But, she said, the words of her trainer, Stacia Madden, to "stay calm" were lodged firmly in her mind.
"You aim for this class for the whole of WEF," Springsteen said.
Unlike the ASPCA Maclay where she shed a tear after winning the championship, the George Morris event was a "really exciting" win she celebrated with her family and friends.
The event can also be seen at 9 p.m. Saturday nght Eastern Time on WHDT Channel 44 in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties of South Florida and is also available to Palm Beach County residents on DirecTV Channel 44 and Comcast Cable Channel 438 and ATT Channel 1044 in Miami-Dade. It can also be seen in the Boston area on WHDN Channel 26 and ATT.