The University of Alabama football team may have lost its chance for the national championship yesterday, but Tuscaloosa -- the jumper -- had no complaints last night at the Washington International Horse Show.
His rider, Dennis Murphy, 36, a member of the United States Equestrian team riding unattached, put on a show in winning the $5,000 match race in front of 12,124 screaming fans -- the largest crowd in the 22-year history of the show -- at Capital Centre.
Murphy, a son of a Blount County, Ala., farmer, won the match race for the second time in the two-year history of the event. He won last year on Tuscaloosa, a 13-year-old chestnut gelding owned by the Gulf State Paper Corporation and now on loan to the team. This year he survived four rounds of jump racing against another international rider over a course of five jumps. o
"He loves this kind of competition against the clock. He can feel when the pressure is on. He anticipates the turns. As soon as we hit the ground after the jump, he turns," Murphy said.
Murphy said the only problem he had last night came when his mount started to think ahead of him. "In the last match race against Robert Ridland on Whiskey Town, we were on the left side; in the first three races we were on the right. He had a hard time understanding we were making different turns."
In the end, the turning was no problem. Ridland and Whiskey Town had eight faults after knocking down the first and third fences.
The victory was Murphy's ninth individual win since he began appearing at the Washington International in 1974. Murphy has been riding horses made available by Gulf States since he took a job with the Alabama-based firm as a forester six years ago.
"It just happened by a stroke of luck that the president of the firm liked horses and let me ride some of them," Murphy said.
In other events last night the United State Park Police won the Francis J. Hannon Memorial Challenge Trophy in the mounted police competition. Sgt. Dennis Ayres won the Joseph Hendrix Hines Trophy for the best individual performance, his third straight victory at this show. One horse in the five-horse group, Lord Sutler, a former show horse now on the city beat, won the Green Conformation title here in 1970.