Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 7
According to judge Archie Cox, there were two things that put Zayna Rizvi on top of this year’s ASPCA Maclay Final at the National Horse Show: forward riding and execution.
“She [came] in the ring, came around the turn, and she went from where the out-gate is and started going forward to the first jump,” said Cox. “You have to go forward to the first if you want to go forward to them all.”
That strong first round put Rizvi on top to start, and she stayed there after the flat. After slipping to second place after Round 2 she nailed the no-stirrups ride-off to take the title back to Wellington, Florida.
Rizvi edged out Catalina Peralta, who moved up from third to second, and Audrey Schulze, who claimed third on Mac One III.
Rizvi was effusively grateful to her trainers at North Run and her horse Finnick.
“This is my fourth equitation finals season on Finn,” said Rizvi, 16. “My first show on him was Maclay regionals four years ago. I remember I came out of the ring and I looked at [trainer] Missy [Clark] and said ‘This is my soul mate.’ Ever since then, I feel like every time we step in the ring we just click. Something works, but he’s the best partner ever. He always tries his hardest for me.”
Rizvi has been knocking at the door for a big finish all season, riding to 11th in the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Final (New Jersey), 10th at the Washington International Equitation Championship (North Carolina) and earning a hard-fought second-placed finish at the Dover Saddlery USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final (Pennsylvania).
“I don’t think it’s anything that special that we do, it’s kind of what we do all year,” Clark said. “Zayna is so well-versed in the jumper ring, so my theory is always it’s not a different sport, the equitation ring. We do a lot of flatwork lessons and we do our coursework but I don’t think we do anything unusual other than what we do all year. Zayna is such a remarkable talent and such a great student, she makes it easy.”
Bobby Murphy helped the judges design the course, and many at the show remarked on how beautiful the ring looked. There were few wings on fences, and plenty of interesting-looking jumps. The tough first round, featuring many bending lines that forced riders to be precise with their track, caused plenty of problems.
“Bobby actually listened and gave us exactly what we asked for and more,” said Keri Kampsen , who won the class herself with help from Schulze’s trainer Frank Madden in 1997. “It was a really great day, and to be on the other side of that table in that special class from when I won it as a kid meant a lot to me.”
Peralta was emotional about her second-place finish on Clover.
“This year has been a bit tough,” said Peralta, Geneva, Florida. “I lost two horses this year and some family members as well so it means a lot. Although I didn’t end up with a win, I’m extremely grateful to be able to be reserve champion and just compete in this class, honestly, with a fantastic horse. [Trainer] Stacia [Klein Madden] is incredible. She’s helped me with so much in overcoming such difficulties and I’m so grateful for the team at Beacon Hill. They’re my family.”
Judges Cox and Kampsen were especially impressed with Schulze, who was the class pathfinder.
“When Audrey went first, I looked at Keri and I said, ‘She just gave them a riding lesson,’ ” Cox said. “She used her cluck in the in-and-out. It was so appreciated.”
Schulze said she didn’t mind going first.
“I knew I was prepared coming into this week,” said Schulze, Ridgewood, New Jersey. “It was interesting that the list came out so early in the week, so I had all week to think about it. I knew that I was ready and I was going to walk my course and have my plan and go in and execute it exactly how I wanted it. And that’s what I did and it worked out nicely.”
Want more National Horse Show? The Chronicle is in Kentucky bringing you news and photos all week. Don’t forget to follow the Chronicle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse. And check out the Nov. 22 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine for more analysis from the show.