Judges George Morris and Hap Hansen have set a remarkably simple, yet testing, track for the ASPCA Maclay Finals. The ring looks quite empty with the sparse course, but as typical of a course Morris has a hand in designing, it is proving an excellent test. It’s basically two serpentines across the ring, and two runs down the center of the ring. If you click on the image at left, you can get a better picture of it.
Riders start over a green oxer ser out of the corner by the out-gate. They then make a sweeping right-hand turn to the trademark ASPCA wall. That’s followed by a smooth left-hand turn to a green triple-bar set in the far corner of the ring.
They then make a sharp turn left out of the end of the ring to a triple combination set down the center of the ring. The A element of the triple is set just three strides off the wall, so riders have to really keep their horse’s motor running around the turn. The first two elements of the triple are optical verticals, with narrow standards and a gate that looks like a racetrack rail, with three vertical elements and one horizontal. There are two snug strides between the two verticals, and then one long stride to the C element, a white oxer. Immediately following, in a straight line, is a green vertical set four strides after the oxer.
Riders then turn out of the end of the ring to a Swedish oxer set in the corner by the in-gate, and turn left across the ring to a narrow wall with ferns on top, set without any wings. A right-hand turn to another Swedish oxer set in the far corner follows.
Riders finish with a long gallop down the center of the ring to a wide wall without wings. Other than the triple combination line, I don’t think striding is set anywhere. Riders are having to really ride off their eye and keep their horse’s impulsion through the turns.
Trouble spots so far have been horses having the gates of the triple combination down, or having an awkward ride out of a corner to one of the jump. Horses have been stopping at the triple combination, the ASPCA wall, and occasionally at one of the oxers in the corners.
• In the first 30, Meg O’Mara, the winner of the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals two weeks ago, has been the standout so far. Michael Hughes pulled a rail in the triple combination. Shawn Casady was excellent.
• In 30 through 50, Lillie Keenan turned in a lovely round (with auto releases!!!) and should get a call-back. Jenna Santi turned in a nice trip, as did Geoffrey Hesslink. Jacob Pope's round was quite lovely as well, and we should be seeing him ride again.
THE STANDBY AFTER 50 HAVE GONE
(in order of preference)