Melanie Smith, the reigning champion, won the $5,000 Eisenhower Memorial Perpetual Trophy for international jumpers at the Washington International Horse Show last night at Capital Centre.
Smith, 33, of Litchfield, Conn., rode Windrush Farm's Calypso to victory following a six-way timed jump-off for first place. Smith, who is well known for her passion for going fast, finished over the shortened seven-jump course in 28.7 seconds.
"This was his first class here. He felt comfortable and in the groove," Smith said. "He slipped on one turn. He sometimes turns so fast he gets ahead of his legs."
Smith, whose first major open jumping victory came in this class 10 years ago at the D.C. Armory on a horse named Chapo, said, "The thrill is never gone. It's always nice to win here at Washington because they have such big beautiful trophies."
Thirty-three started in the class, which began with a preliminary round yesterday afternoon, and 17 of those riders qualified for the final last night. The final scores were determined by adding together the jumping faults for both rounds and any penalties for exceeding the time allowed.
After the second round, six riders, none of whom represented a foreign country, were tied with zero faults, thus forcing a timed jump-off. Anne Kursinski of Pasadena, Calif., led off on Livius, finishing without faults in 31.2.
Conrad Homfeld of Petersburg, Va., was next on Touch of Class, cutting the final time to 29.0, rattling the next-to-last fence but finishing with zero faults.
Then came Smith, who cut sharper, turned faster and, with her horse, became almost a blur. "He (Calypso) sometimes thinks ahead of his body," she said.
Three other riders, including veteran Rodney Jenkins of Gordonsville, Va., tried unsuccessfully to beat Smith. Jenkins, 37, rode Coastline in the jump-off, but they failed to negotiate the penultimate fence.
Earlier in the day, Jenkins captured the first major trophy offered in the hunter classes, the Robotyping Challenge Trophy for green working hunters, on Last to Leave, owned by Sloane Lindemann.