Syracuse, NY - November 2, 2008 - The Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament featuring The 125th National Horse Show was an exiting show for everyone. The five days of competition held seminars, demonstrations, autograph sessions, and more. The hunter and equitation divisions were exceptionally exciting.
Jennifer Alfano, who rides for SBS Farms and Susie Schoellkopf, took home the top tricolor in the Regular Conformation Hunters on mount Sting, owned by Helen Lenahan. The pair had a stellar week with three firsts, a fourth, and fifth place ribbons. Reserve champion in the division was Molly Ashe-Crowley and De-Lovely, owned by Caroline Lasersohn.
Champion in the Regular Conformation Hunters was only one of Alfano's many wins today. In the Green Conformation Hunters, Alfano and Sting were reserve champion. Adding to her success, she also picked up a reserve championship award with Jersey Boy in the Green Working Hunters and Regular Working Hunters.
Champion of the Amateur Owner 35 and Over Hunter division was Ellen Toon and her horse Invincible. Toon rode her horse to two firsts, a second and fifth place ribbons.
Toon rides with JT Farm, which is led by Jimmy Toon. JT Farm has two locations in South Salem, NY and Wellington, FL. Right behind Toon in the reserve champion position was Meredith Lipke Bartolone and her horse Once and Again.
In addition to the top prize they were also honored with The Automation-Model Cadet Memorial Perpetual Trophy for the overall best round in the first two classes of the amateur owners.
Coming away with the Amateur Owner 18-35 Hunter Championship was Tracy Scheriff and her horse Lavari. Scheriff piloted her horse to two firsts and two third place ribbons. Stephanie Riggio and her horse Indian Summer took home the reserve championship award. Scheriff has been extremely successful on the indoor circuit this year.
In the Green Conformation Hunters, Ken Berkley was honored with the championship ribbon aboard Gina Day's horse, Sambalino. Berkley and Sambalino rode to three firsts, a second, and third place ribbons. Berkley was also named Grand Hunter Champion with Sambalino.
After the professional hunter classes concluded, it was determined that the Leading Hunter Rider award went to Jennifer Alfano. Alfano rides for SBS Farms, which is led by Susie Schoellkopf and based in Buffalo, NY. Alfano was presented with the The Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy.
The junior hunters were the first classes of the day and competed for championship honors. The first course for both divisions was a handy round. It was a twisting, turning course made up of many single fences and a snake fence.
Champion of the Small Junior Hunters was Lucy Davis aboard Red Rooster, who is owned by Old Oak Farm. Davis piloted Red Rooster to two first place ribbons. Davis was presented with The "Follow Me" Challenge Trophy. Reserve champion was Jessica Springsteen and Sublime.
Jessica Springsteen continued her success in the Large Junior Hunters where she and her eight-year-old horse Tiziano took home Large Junior Hunter Champion. Springsteen had two firsts, a fourth, and fifth place ribbons in the division. For her championship win, she took home The "Whiskey Before Breakfast" Memorial Challenge Trophy.
Springsteen took home several other awards as well. The "Blue By You" Memorial Challenge Trophy was presented to her in honor of the Best Junior Hunter Round award. In addition, Springsteen was also Grand Junior Hunter Champion and took home The "Theodorus Van Wyck Cusny" Memorial Challenge Trophy. She also received the Best Child Rider award.
The first round of the ASPCA Maclay Championship began at 6:30 a.m. 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.
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.
After the first round, Conroy and Torano had Springsteen in first place. While a first and second round is mandatory, it is up to the judge's discretion if they want to make the riders perform any further testing.
"To be honest with you, we felt that if Jessica came in as the last rider and absolutely nailed it, we were not going to have another test," said Conroy. "There was one jump that was a little weak, and the second place rider did not quite hand gallop fast enough. So, we wanted to give the girls another chance to really show us what they could do."
Torano was very impressed with the way Springsteen executed her test. Throughout the two rounds it remained extremely close between Springsteen and the second place finisher, Victoria Birdsall.
Both judges were very complimentary of the competitors. Conroy said the trainers in this country have been doing a fantastic job. The riders are so well trained and people can see the quality of the horses. He thought this explained the U.S. success in the past two Olympic Games.
Torano agreed with Conroy. He thought that what happened today did not happen by accident. From watching today's class, people could see the types of riders top barns are producing. These riders are the future of the sport.
In the stands to cheer on Springsteen was her father Bruce Springsteen, her mother and her two brothers.
"Jess has worked so hard ever since she was young. It is amazing to see young girls and boys her age with the kind of adult discipline it takes to achieve something like that," said Springsteen. "It is tremendous; it takes a very mature work ethic and a good degree of character. She has done wonderfully and has really developed. It has been so exciting to watch her ride and exciting to watch her develop into who she is through the activities with the horses. That has been exciting for us."
Springsteen's mother was also there to watch her daughter compete. She said that she usually does not get nervous when she is watching her daughter unless it is an important class like today.
Bruce Springsteen commented on his daughter's discipline and how much he has learned from this sport over the years.
"After you have been to so many shows year after year, you realize how difficult it is and what an achievement it is. You also realize how good the others riders are and how much work has gone into it," said Springsteen. "You see a culmination of thirteen years of riding come down to one minute and thirty seconds. That is a tough lesson in life. Musicians always get to sing it again; riders get one shot."
Ed Sayres, the President of the ASPCA, was also in the stands to watch the young riders compete. He was very proud of them and the example they are setting for other animal lovers.
The Bates Year-End Awards were presented at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament featuring the 125th National Horse Show today. Jessica Springsteen took the gold, Chelsea Moss the silver and Victoria Birdsall the bronze.
The riders invited to the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session to be held on January 5-9, 2009 will be:
Jessica Springsteen, Chelsea Moss, Victoria Birdsall, Kimberly McCormack, Jacqueline Lubrano (all based on their Bates rankings), plus two high-ranking West coast riders: Shelby Wakeman and Sophie Benjamin. Hannah Selleck was chosen as the winner of the USEF Talent Search West and North American Young Riders Individual Champion. Taylor Land was chosen as USEF National Junior Jumper Individual Champion. Matthew Metell was chosen as the wild card based on his performance.
The Horsmastership training session is hosted by Bates Saddles and Equestrian Sports Productions with the support of the United States Equestrian Federation. Bates Saddles, Purina Mills, Practical Horseman, the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament, the USET Foundation and the USHJA are supporting organizations.
ASPCA Maclay Championship
1. Jessica Springsteen, Papillion 136, Stone Hill Farm
2. Victoria Birdsall, Cheyenne, Heritage Farm
3. Zazou Hoffman, Ivy, Missy Clark
4. Christy DiStefano, Fingerprint, Christy DiStefano
5. Samantha L. Smith, Palladium
6. Laura Pfeiffer, Foreign Encounter, Terri Dandino
7. Rachel Udelson, Littlefoot, Missy Clark
8. Carolyn Curcio, Rodin, Golden Goose Investments
9. Lucy Davis, Patrick, Lucy Davis
10. Samantha Senft, Lord Loxley, Liza Finsness
Reserve is Jacqueline Lubrano who rode Calito 7, owned by Horizon Hill Farm.
Bates Top Ten Equitation Rankings
1. Jessica Springsteen, 28324, Colts Neck, NJ, Stacia Madden
2. Chelsea Moss, 27425, Medford, NJ, Stacia Madden
3. Victoria Birdsall, 27023, Topsfield, MA, Andre Dignelli
4. Kimberly McCormack, 26325, Clermont, NJ, Missy Clark & John Brennan
5. Jacqueline Lubrano, 25517, Glenmoore, PA, Stacia Madden
6. Carolyn Curcio, 25495, West Islip, NY, Stacia Madden
7. Matthew Metell, 20426, N. Falmouth, MA, Andre Dignelli
8. Emma Lipman, 18609, Bedford, NY, Missy Clark & John Brennan
9. Christina Lin, 18018, Lewisburg, PA, Stacia Madden
10. Alexandra Arute, 7954, Avon, CT, Missy Clark & John Brennan
For more information and for full results, please visit http://www.syracuseinvitational.com
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/2008-syracuse-sporthorse-tournament-11-08.html">2008 Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament Wrap-Up: October 29-November 2, 2008</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com