Leslie Burr, in her premier performance as a member of the United States Equestrian team, won the Second Ringmaster Challenge Trophy -- the first event for International Open jumpers -- on the opening night of the Washington International Horse Show last night at Capital Centre.
Burr, 24, of Weston, Conn., winner of the President's Cup here last year, was the first of 24 riders to compete over a course of 10 jumps. Her mount, Friar Tuck, a 9-year-old offspring of a thoroughbred and a Clydesdale, completed the course with no faults in 50.58.
"I hate going first," Burr said. "It definitely is a disadvantage. You don't know the distances between the jumps and its hard to judge how fast to go."
Burr said she acquired the horse for Betty Maniatty, who lent him to the team for the indoor tour just one year ago.
"We bought him from some people in Canada who happen to like this breeding," said Burr. "He's very sturdy and quiet. In fact, Mrs. Maniatty, who rides as an amateur owner, even took lessons on him."
Burr brought Friar Tuck to the Washington International to ride in the speed events such as this one, where jumping faults were converted into seconds. Her strategy was "to go fast from the start." In fact, the only problem the pair encountered was during the playing of the National Anthem, when the oversized horse refused to stand at attention.
Second place went to Barney Ward on the bay mare Springer, who finished the course in 53.87. Ward, a professional horseman from Bedford Hills, N.Y., took the course about midway through the class and also went clean, in front of 6,145 onlookers.
Melanie Smith, also riding as a member of the USET, guided Vivaldi to third place in 54.23. But four faults, for a knockdown, added to her original time of 50.23, just edged the Germantown, Tenn., equestrian out of the top spot.
The USET also took fourth place with Peter Leone's effort on Vautrait, 56.57 seconds. The USET took the lead in the point standings in the team competition with 17 points. Team champions will be determined by total points after eight days of competition.
The best the two visiting foreign teams could do was an eighth place finish by Ian Millar of Canada on Arnica. The French team failed to place.