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Zazou Hoffman aboard Ivy wins the 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships Oct. 31 during the 126th National Horse Show in Syracuse, N.Y.

Jennifer Wood / PMG photo

Zazou Hoffman aboard Ivy wins the 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships Oct. 31 during the 126th National Horse Show in Syracuse, N.Y.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships have come to a close Oct. 31, and it was 17-year-old Zazou Hoffman of Santa Monica, Calif., who prevailed through three rounds to win this year’s coveted equitation final riding the horse Ivy. The ASPCA Maclay National Championships were the highlight event of the 126th National Horse Show, which was featured within the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament held at the War Memorial Arena in the Oncenter Complex.

In the first round of competition, 150 riders from across the United States, including some Californians who qualified to compete there, were tested on a course designed by the judges Bill Moroney of Middleburg, Va., and Jack Towell of Camden, S.C., in cooperation with course designer Richard Jeffery of Dorset, England.

The course for the second round was a unique design, with 12 jumps available for riders to make their own nine-fence course. The trot jump was required, as was a hand gallop to a fence of their choice. Judge Jack Towell said: “Years ago Ronnie Mutch had done that, so I give him credit for that. We didn’t have a course made up ourselves. I thought everybody did a fantastic job.”

Moroney added, “That was the beauty of the second round. Every rider could create a course that best showed off their strengths and their horses and hid their weaknesses, hopefully. They’re learning to be horsemen.”

Hoffman chose to take turns off the left lead, which is Ivy’s strength, and to keep everything moving forward and fluid. “I tried to do as much as I could off the left. It’s my better lead on Ivy,” Hoffman said. “I kept it open and flowing and did things that would make sense. I didn’t take too many ridiculous risks. I hand galloped the brush jump because I was less likely to have a rail there. The rest just worked out.”

The judges made the decision to call back four riders for a test after the second round. The test included a broken line, two rollbacks to oxers, and a bending line down the long side of the ring to finish. While the test looked relatively simple, the catch was that the riders had to do this without stirrups.

The first rider called back was Samantha Harrison of La Cañada, Calif., on Triple Lutz. Harrison had a smooth round, but had several rubs at the jumps.

Zazou Hoffman aboard Ivy wins the 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships Oct. 31 during the 126th National Horse Show in Syracuse, N.Y.

Jennifer Wood / PMG photo

Zazou Hoffman aboard Ivy wins the 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships Oct. 31 during the 126th National Horse Show in Syracuse, N.Y.

The last to test was Hoffman, who had to feel the pressure of being on top. Hoffman placed third in the National Championship last year, and this was her last competition as a junior rider.

She and Ivy, the horse she rode last year, performed a smooth test and made the work without stirrups look very easy. The crowd erupted after she jumped the final fence, but she would have to wait for the awards presentation, and the countdown of the Top 10 riders, before she knew the outcome.

On riding without stirrups, Hoffman said: “I wasn’t too concerned. We do enough of that at home, but Ivy does have a big enough jump that it could have been bad!”

Hoffman and Ivy showed sparingly together this year while Hoffman qualified for the most part on other horses like Catwoman, who Laura Pfeiffer showed tonight to fifth place. Hoffman feels that she and Ivy have a special relationship. “Ivy is just amazing. He’s the coolest horse I’ve ever ridden. Missy owns him and he’s a little older, but he still feels amazing and perfect. He has such a great canter and the best rhythm. I get along with him great. He’s a little bit more sensitive, and he doesn’t need much leg. He’s really soft and has a great jump,” she described.

The judges rewarded Hoffman’s style and consistency with the honor of winning the longest-running and most historical of the equitation finals. She said through tears: “It’s unreal; it’s nice to see that I’ve improved that much over last year. I was just so excited that it finally happened and that I finally did it.”

Hoffman trains with Missy Clark, John Brennan, and Kristy McCormack at North Run and spends much of her time on the East Coast as a working student. The North Run team was in tears when Hoffman was announced as the winner. Clark said, “I’m so thrilled for Zazou. She’s worked so hard. She’s such a great worker and really devoted to the whole part of horsemanship. It isn’t just about riding for her. It’s the whole picture, which is really refreshing and unusual. She’s in the barn working all day. She really deserves it, and I’m very proud of her.”

Judge Bill Moroney pointed out that Hoffman made smart decisions that eventually put her to the top of their list. He said: “She was consistent. In the second round, she created a course that suited her horse. They had a shot to show off, and it did change the order a bit. That’s what we liked about her. She continued to ride forward. She didn’t get overly conservative and try to play it safe.”

For her win today, Hoffman was presented with the ASPCA Horsemanship Trophy, donated by the late Alfred B. Maclay, Esq. Although Hoffman’s family could not be at the show, they were presented with the Gordon Wright Perpetual Trophy, donated by the late Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler to the family of the winning rider. Hoffman’s trainers won the ASPCA Maclay National Championship Trainers Award, as well as the Maclay Trainer Award, a perpetual trophy donated by the family of John Y.G. Walker Jr. in memory of Victor Hugo-Vidal.

Other California riders who finished in the Top 10 were: Samantha Harrison of La Cañada on Triple Lutz (trainer: Karen Healey) in 4th place, and Lucy Davis of Los Angeles on Patrick (trainer: Archie Cox) in 6th place.

For information about the National Horse Show, visit the Web site: www.nhs.org

Top 10 Results: 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championship

Rider, Horse, Hometown, Trainers

1st – Zazou Hoffman, Ivy, Santa Monica, CA, Missy Clark, John Brennan, Kristy McCormack
2nd – Chase Boggio, Golou II, Canton, GA, Christina Schlusemeyer, Bob Braswell
3rd – Morgan Hale, Urco, Odessa, FL, Don Stewart, Jr.
4th – Samantha Harrison, Triple Lutz, La Cañada, CA, Karen Healey
5th – Laura Pfeiffer, Catwoman, Temperance, MI, Polly Howard
6th – Lucy Davis, Patrick, Los Angeles, CA, Archie Cox
7th – Lillie Keenan, New York, NY, Logan, Andre Dignelli, Kirsten Coe, Patricia Griffith
8th – Amber Henter, St. Petersburg, FL, Triumph, Christina Schlusemeyer, Bob Braswell
9th – Hasbrouck Donovan, Gainesville, FL, Almost Famous, Don Stewart Jr., Bibby Farmer Hill
10th – Molly Braswell, Ocala, FL, The General, Bob Braswell, Christina Schlusemeyer

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