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    Cayla Richards of Calabasas, Calif., and her horse Asparagus, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, win the ASPCA Maclay Western Regional Qualifier on Sept. 12 at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano.

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    Cayla Richards of Calabasas, Calif., and her horse Asparagus, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, win the ASPCA Maclay Western Regional Qualifier on Sept. 12 at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano.

    SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Cayla Richards of Calabasas, Calif., dominated in a class which is often called the “proving ground of champions” for young riders at the Western regional qualifying competition for the 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships.

    The 15-year-old Richards topped the Region 8 qualifier for California, Nevada and Hawaii, held at the Oaks Blenheim Fall Classic Show, managed by Blenheim EquiSports, at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Richards trains with Jenny Karazissis and rode her horse Asparagus, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, to the win.

    This was Richards’ second time competing at the regional qualifier, and this year will be her first trip to the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, to held at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament from Oct. 28-Nov. 1.

    “I’ve never been there, so I’m excited just to see what it is like,” Richards said. “I only get to compete back East once or twice a year. It will be nice to see all of my competition. They’re the best riders in the country at that show.”

    Richards beat out 34 other competitors in her region and led the class through the jumping, flat, and work-off phases. “The course was definitely pretty tough,” Richards said. “There was an option to do the inside turn to a two stride, vertical-vertical, and I might have been the only one to do it. That might have gotten extra points from the judges.”

    Richards said her win at the Region 8 qualifier will help when she travels to the East Coast. “It was definitely good practice for indoors because it was a small indoor ring like back East. That gives my horse and me confidence going indoors and knowing that we can win if we put in a good round,” she said.

    The ASPCA Maclay, a championship class at the National Horse Show, was initiated in 1933 by Alfred B. Maclay, an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals board member, accomplished horseman and president of the National Horse Show. Maclay conceived of a trophy that would inspire young riders to develop the best horsemanship skills and instill in them respect and compassion for their equine partners.

    It has become one of the most prestigious competitions for junior riders in the United States. Its winners are some of the biggest names in equestrian sport. Past winners and top finishers include recognizable West Coast names such as Bernie Traurig (1961), Fred Bauer (1970), Francie Steinwedell-Carvin (1977), Lauren Kay (1990), Keri Kampsen (1997), Nicole Shahinian Simpson (1992), Richard Spooner (Reserve Champion, 1988), Matthew Sereni (2003) and Jamie Taylor (Reserve Champion, 2002).

    For more information on the ASPCA Maclay National Championships and the National Horse Show Association of America, visit www.nhs.org

    For complete show results from Blenheim EquiSports events, visit the Web site: www.showpark.com/results.asp

    Top 10 Results from 2009 ASPCA Maclay Region 8 Western Qualifier:

    • 1st – Cayla Richards & Asparagus, Calabasas, CA
    • 2nd – Theodore Boris & Du Calme, Culver City, CA
    • 3rd – Jocelyn Neff & Lord Loxley, Newport Beach, CA
    • 4th – Saer Coulter & Sanderson, San Francisco, CA
    • 5th – Lucy Davis & Patrick, Los Angeles, CA
    • 6th – Gabbi Langston & Azlan, Irvine, CA
    • 7th – Olivia Esse & Guns N Roses, Los Angeles, CA
    • 8th – Samantha Harrison & Triple Lutz, La Ca–ada Flintridge, CA
    • 9th – Demi Stiegler & Vigo, Irvine, CA
    • 10th – Sophie Verges & Meant to Be, Berkeley, CA

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