Syracuse, NY - November 3, 2007 - Today at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament, Kimberly McCormack of Clermont, NJ, took home the prestigious title of national champion in the 2007 ASPCA Maclay National Championship. McCormack rode Sundance to the title and trains with her sister Kristy McCormack, Missy Clark, and John Brennan. Elizabeth Lubrano of Glenmoore, PA, finished as the reserve champion, while Shelby Wakeman of Westlake Village, CA, was third.
The first round course was designed by judges George H. Morris and Linda Hough. It posed a challenge for many of the riders. It featured different looking jumps, such as a leaf-covered wall with no standards and an arch jump.
"The course was a little harder in the morning than in the afternoon," Hough acknowledged. "We didn't want to play down to the group. We wanted to play up, and I think we accomplished that. It's such an amazing thing to sit there and watch these wonderful animals."
There were 153 riders in the opening round, which began at 6:30 a.m. After the first round, 30 riders were called back for the flat phase. They were split into groups of 10. After the flat phase, the judges chose 18 riders to return for a second jumping round. The top 18 for that round were (in reverse order of preference):
Jennifer Walters and Opportunity
Hayden Warmington and Obelix S
Matthew Metell and Oliver
Kate Salzman and Ricochet
Melissa Barton and Jack & Coke
Cathy Rolfs and Timeless
Stephanie Underwood and Narcis Z
Tatiana Dzavik and Littlefoot
Carly Anthony and Apollo
Shelby Wakeman and San Francisco
Lucy Davis and San Marcos
Mallory Olson and Patriot
Katherine Newman and Double Diamond
Kimberly McCormack and Sundance
Elizabeth Lubrano and Golou II
Emily Gardner and Almost Famous
Michelle Morris and Eventual
Maria Schaub and I-Toon
The second round course had 11 numbered jumps that were on a track that featured rollback turns. It also had the arch jump and an ivy wall with standards. It was a straightforward course that required a precise eye for the jumps.
Wakeman was placed ninth after the flat phase. Going into the second round, she wanted to impress the judges. Her horse, San Francisco, jumped flawlessly and did not touch any of the jumps. Wakeman made great, neat turns and put in a solid second round. She moved up seven spots to finish in third place. After her round, Wakeman said, "I really didn't have anything to lose. I just wanted to go in and have a good round. Hopefully it would all work out."
McCormack was fifth going into the final jumping round. She rode her horse Sundance and was not fazed by the demanding course. She made a great, thoughtful turn from fence two to three, was flawless from the one stride to fence 6, and rode the whole course with style. It seemed at that point that no matter what the outcome, she would move up in the standings.
Elizabeth Lubrano followed McCormack on Golou II. Lubrano waited for the easy distance to fence 2, but finished the rest of the course without fault. She would have to wait for the final three riders to see where she placed. "I thought I was a little deep to the second jump," she said afterwards. Lubrano would move up from fourth place to second in the final standings.
A rail at fence 9 would move Emily Gardner, who was standing in third place at the time, down to fifth place in the standings at the end of the class. Michelle Morris, currently in second place, would drop to sixth place after she had a couple sticky jumps on course.
The final rider on course was Maria Schaub, who has already won three major equitation classes this year. Riding I Toon, Schaub is no stranger to the pressure of leading a class. However, today was not Schaub's day to win. She pulled a rail at fence 3, had a hard rub at 6, and had a long distance to fence 8. Those faults would drop her to seventh place.
After Schaub's round, the judges decided not to have any further testing. Kimberly McCormack was named this year's national champion.
Elizabeth Lubrano made her move up the standings on Golou II, her sister's horse that she has only ridden since Capital Challenge, which was just a month ago. She rode Golou II in the medal finals two weeks ago in Harrisburg, but a mistake at one jump kept her out of the top 20. Of her trip today, she said, "I was just trying to do the best I could on the horse I was riding, knowing him somewhat but not as well as I could. The second round, I felt that I'd like to come up from behind. He felt really, really good. I was very happy with him."
Lubrano's trainer, Stacia Madden, was pleased that it came together for her student, citing that it was a "team effort" for today's class. Lubrano also trains with Krista Freundlich, Max Amaya, and Frank Madden.
"I'm still kind of in shock," Lubrano smiled. "It's all still overwhelming."
Wakeman's trainer, Karen Healey, was proud of her rider's ability to stay cool under pressure and move up once again. Shelby is "a real fighter," Healey described. "It's an unbelievable match with that horse. He's a special horse. He's a funny temperament, and you have to know how to deal with him. She rides him beautifully."
When McCormack went in the ring for her second round today, she could not just focus on winning. "I never really thought about winning because that never works for me," she admitted. "I just wanted to go in there and lay it down. Whatever happened, happened. That's really all I thought about was the course and riding the best I could.
"It was definitely interesting, and it's surprising when it all falls into place. To have it happen twice especially was pretty incredible," she added. McCormack was referring to her experience two weeks ago in the USEF/Pessoa Medal Finals, where she also moved up several spots to take that prestigious title.
McCormack trains with her sister Kristy, Missy Clark, and John Brennan. Clark's advice for McCormack before the second round was simple. "Coming back where she sat in fifth place, you're always within striking distance if you can perform a beautiful, smooth consistent round, and she did." Kristy McCormack beamed, "I'm so proud of her and excited to come in here and do it again."
Judges Linda Hough and George Morris definitely knew their winner and had distinct reasons why they placed McCormack at the top. Hough explained, "She came in the ring fighting for the top. She came in relaxed, and the horse performed beautifully. It was one of those moments that just happened. It was beautiful to be a part of it, and I'm happy it worked out the way it did." Morris added, "She stood the test of the whole day."
For more information on the ASPCA Maclay National Championships or the National Horse Show Association of America Ltd., please visit http://www.nhs.org
Final Results: 2007 ASPCA Maclay National Championship
1. Kimberly McCormack/Sundance/Clermont, NJ/Kristy McCormack, Missy Clark, John Brennan
2. Elizabeth Lubrano/Golou II/Glenmoore, PA/Stacia Madden, Krista Freundlich, Max Amaya, Frank Madden
3. Shelby Wakeman/San Francisco/Westlake Village, CA/Karen Healey, Kasey Ament
4. Carly Anthony/Apollo/Redmond, WA/Cara Anthony, Karen Healey
5. Emily Gardner/Almost Famous/Tallahassee, FL/Don Stewart Jr.
6. Michelle Morris/Eventual/La Canada, CA/Karen Healey, Kasey Ament
7. Maria Schaub/I Toon/Holmdel, NJ/Stacia Madden, Krista Freundlich, Max Amaya, Frank Madden
8. Lucy Davis/San Marcos/Los Angeles, CA/Archie Cox
9. Jennifer Walters/Opportunity/Shelburne, VT/Linda Langmeier
10. Mallory Olson/Patriot/Newport Coast, CA/Joe Thorpe
Photo Credit: Kimberly McCormack and Sundance, 2007 ASPCA Maclay National Champions. Photo (C) 2007 Randi Muster.
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