On Sept. 20, in the first ever Global Champions Tour event in Austria, U.S. show jumper Jessica Springsteen made history by winning the opening two-phase class of the Vienna Masters in front of the iconic “Rathaus,” the nearly 180-year-old City Hall of Vienna.
The 20-year-old rider partnered with Vornado van den Hoendrik for the win ahead of 82 other seasoned competitors. She just started competing in the GCT tour this season.
“It was an amazing victory, just wonderful, and in this outstanding site!” said Springsteen. “It’s my first victory within the scope of the Global Champions Tour. I know that the demands were less compared to what we’ll see in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix on Saturday night, but ‘Vornado’ is in super form, and he’s already proven that he can be successful in the big classes. Austria is good place for me. Last year I won the Nations Cup for Young Riders with the U.S. team at Lamprechtshausen, where I was also riding Vornado.“
Springsteen has ridden Vornado, a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Darco—Cizilithyia, Ramiro), for five years and considers him her best horse so far. She finished in 27th place in the Grand Prix of Vienna with two rails down.
However, she also placed fifth in the speed derby on Saturday afternoon with Wish, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Numero Uno—Summer, Calvados). Throughout the GCT tour, she’s racked up some impressive results including a second-placed finish in the Prix du Canton de Vaud in Lausanne, Switzerland, and third in the Big Tour 1.50-class at Valkenswaard, the Netherlands.
“I’ve learned a lot through the Global Champions Tour events at Monte Carlo, Chantilly, Valkenswaard, Lausanne and now at Vienna and gained a lot additional experience. I’ve raised my own and my horses’ standard permanently,“ said Springsteen.
She’ll certainly put those skills to use with her new ride, Vindicat W. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Guidem—Oklahoma, Libero H) helped the British team win Olympic gold with Peter Charles in the tack, and Springsteen has only been the official owner for about a week. She wants to compete for the first time in the French CSI at St. Lô on the second weekend of October. “After that show I want to take him back to the USA, and I plan to compete him in some of the indoor shows in the upcoming winter season,” she said.
Although her famous father, Bruce Springsteen, was in Vienna in July for a concert in the Ernst-Happel stadium in front of 60,000 enthusiastic fans, the Boss couldn’t make it for Jessica’s big win. “He was playing a concert in New Jersey at the same time,” she explained. She joked that she has no musical talent herself, however, her two brothers play the guitar.
But her mother, Patti Scialfa, joined her in Vienna after the grand prix for some sightseeing. Though this isn’t Jessica’s first visit to Vienna with her mother, she can’t remember the initial trip. “I was too small at that time,” she said.
It was also Patti who introduced Jessica to horse sports at the age of 5. “She likes to ride a lot, but she’s never competed at horse shows,“ said Jessica. Bruce also likes to mount up occasionally at the family-owned Stone Hill Farm in New Jersey, but he chooses a western saddle for his rides.
Jessica is studying psychology at Duke University (N.C.), but she took the semester off to concentrate on equestrian sport, and she plans to continue as a professional rider after finishing her studies. She currently trains with 2008 U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Laura Kraut.
Although she’ll never be able to fly under the radar due to her parents, she said her famous name doesn’t cause her any issues. “At home in New Jersey, everyone knows who I am. There everything is pretty normal,” she said.
And, in this aspect she’s in good hands with her fellow riders, since they’re used to the children of famous parents. Only success in the sport and personality count, and many colleagues already pay Jessica great respect. “She rides really great!” said threefold World Cup Champion Hugo Simon of Austria.