Two hundred twenty of the nation’s top junior riders converged Sunday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, with aspirations to win the 2022 ASPCA Maclay Finals. At the end of the day, Augusta Iwasaki was crowned the 2022 ASPCA Maclay National Champion—her very last class as a junior competitor.
“I just kept fighting all day long and was just hoping to do as best that I could,” said Iwasaki of her efforts aboard Izar at the National Horse Show. “This has been so special. I’m going back to college after this, so this is my last show as a junior. I mean, it’s amazing.”
Round 1 of the Maclay
The 14-effort track featured bending lines, rollback turns, two one-stride combinations and a triple bar, to mention a few of the obstacles. Fence 1 to 2 was a quiet 5-stride line to start the course, followed by a left bending turn to Fence 3. The ride from Fence 2 to 3 was a related distance. Some riders took the inside track for 6 strides, others took a more direct line for 7, and some rode a broken line for 8.
After Fence 3, riders continued right to Fence 4 on the short side of the ring, then fit in 7 or 8 bending strides to Fences 5A and 5B. Following the first one-stride of the course, riders cantered down to 6A in 5 strides, and were met with another one-stride to 6B.
The second rollback turn of the course came after 6AB, which was a left turn back to Fence 7 off the short side nearest to the gate. The bending line from Fence 7 to Fence 8 was perhaps the most troubling on course because the rollback to Fence 7 was followed by a sharp right turn to Fence 8 in 6 strides. Due to the sharp turn, some horses never got their eye on Fence 8, which resulted in a refusal for many.
After Fence 8, riders moved up in 3 strides to Fence 9, then continued right bending in 5 strides to Fence 10. The course culminated in a galloping 6 stride line from Fence 11 to Fence 12.
Of the 220 horse-and-rider combinations, just 24 made it to the second round, the flat phase, which was split into two groups of twelve. Both groups began on the left lead and were asked to perform the sitting trot. From the sitting trot, the judges requested the counter-canter, followed by a change of lead (to the correct lead) down the long side in front of the judges booth. Riders then changed direction through the walk and were asked to drop their stirrups. The judges continued the test with another counter-canter, followed by a transition down to the sitting trot. Finally, riders were asked to line up in the middle with their backs facing the judges.
Round 2 of the Maclay
The 24 competitors were then invited back to challenge the second over-fences round in reverse order. The course started over the famous Maclay fence with 6 strides down to Fence 2. Riders continued around a right rollback turn to Fence 3 and collected in 4 strides to Fence 4. They then traveled down a left bending line in 8 strides to Fence 5. A short turn off the shortside by the in-gate had the riders at Fence 6, with 7 strides down to Fence 7.
Another tight turn, this time to the left, came next going to Fence 8, followed by yet another right turn to Fence 9 on the far short side of the arena. The first round’s 5AB was turned into a triple combination during the break—now 10ABC—a one-stride to a two-stride. It was followed by a bending line in 5 strides to Fence 11. To finish the round, riders galloped past the in-gate and down the long side to finish over Fence 12.
And finally, the judges called back the top five riders for a final test—Isabella David, Augusta Iwasaki, Luke Jensen, Carlee McCutcheon and Tessa Downey. The test was as follows: hand gallop directly to Fence 2, canter Fence 9, walk, demonstrate a turn on the haunches and reverse, counter canter Fence 8 (in the opposite direction), canter Fence 12 (in the opposite direction), canter Fence 7, canter Fence 1 (in the opposite direction) and exit the ring at the walk.
Following the final test, the top 10 riders were called back into the ring for the prize-giving ceremony. The top 10 were as follows:
- Augusta Iwasaki
- Luke Jensen
- Tessa Downey
- Carlee McCutcheon
- Isabella David
- Ellie Aronson
- Addison Reed
- Stella Wasserman
- Alexander Alston
- Kate Egan
Another Notch in Her Belt
This isn’t Iwasaki’s first championship accomplishment aboard Izar this indoors season. The duo was also fifth in the 2022 Dover/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in October.
“I started showing [Izar] at the beginning of this season. I think we clicked pretty much immediately, which was super nice. He’s amazing to ride.”
Though this was Iwasaki’s last finals, it was only Izar’s first. “I’m so proud of him for being so amazing at his first finals,” shared Iwasaki.
Jensen and Jamaica
Second place finisher Jensen has also had huge success this indoors season. He’s fresh off a win in the 2022 Dover/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals. Jensen claimed champion there aboard Jamaica as well.
“It’s been so special to work with [Jamaica] and take care of him and compete with him throughout the year. I’ve gotten to show this fall season with him and he’s been super successful and an absolute blast.”
Downey has had the ride on HH Moonshine now for nearly four years now, and she knows his strengths and weaknesses well. “[My trainer Peter Pletcher and I] noticed there weren’t many standards on the jumps in the first round. I know my horse has a right shift, so the most important thing for me was staying in the middle,” she remarked about her course plan.
Over the course of their time together, Downey and HH Moonshine have also racked up many accomplishments. This season, they were 6th in the Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship at Traverse City, 11th at the Washington International Horse Show Equitation Finals and first in the South Central Maclay Regionals.
That’s a Wrap for the 2022 National Horse Show
For full results of the ASPCA Maclay Finals, click here.
Thanks to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2022 National Horse Show, including rider interviews, competition reports, photos, videos and more!