Langmeier Leads Start To Finish In ASPCA Maclay Finals

McKayla Langmeier and Skyfall. Photo by Phelps Media Group

McKayla Langmeier and Skyfall. Photo by Phelps Media Group

The Chronicle of the Horse
Published on
The Chronicle of the Horse (

The Chronicle of the Horse
Published on The Chronicle of the Horse (

By Lisa Slade
Created 2015-11-01 12:28

November 1, 2015

Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 1
Two days ago, Missy Clark stood up and walked out of the draw for the ASPCA Maclay Finals. Student McKayla Langmeier had just drawn first in the order for the first course.

“I’m saying to myself, ‘Please don’t say her number first,’ and they said it, and I turned, and I left. I didn’t even hear the rest of the order,” said Clark. “But I got myself together, and we had our little pep talk about, ‘You’re just going to go and do it.’ She had to go first in the rotation of the top four in the [Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search], so we’d kind of been in that position already, and she nailed it that day. I said, ‘We’re going to do it again,’ and we did.”

Langmeier came out on top in the class after the two rounds of jumping and one flat phase. Judges Ralph Caristo and Chris Kappler opted for no further testing after those rounds. They remarked on Langmeier’s dominance from start to end, despite her unfortunate draw order.

After this morning’s flat phase, Langmeier returned for the second—and final—jumping round in first place. She never relinquished it.

“Well, she was our American Pharoah for sure,” said Caristo. “She just nailed it right from the gate, and that was quite impressive.”

In fact, she was so good that Kappler, who designed the tracks with Bobby Murphy, Nick Granat and Caristo, had a brief moment of panic at 6:30 a.m. yesterday morning.

“She walked in and rode the course exactly the way Ralph and I wanted it,” he said. “And I said, ‘Oh my God, I fudged this. It was too easy. It all worked out too easily.’ I was like ‘I’m worried.’ Anyway, it worked out in the end. But it was like, ‘You read my mind.’ ”

Lucy Deslauriers finished second, and Madison Goetzmann was third.

Langmeier was trained by her mother, Linda Langmeier in addition to Clark, and Linda won this class in 1983 when it was held at Madison Square Garden. In a fun bit of history, it was the first mother-and-daughter set of winners in this class.

“I woke up the next morning and saw the front cover of the New York Times sports section, and that they had covered this event,” said Linda. “When we knew McKayla was wanting to ride, something she’s been wanting since she could walk, it was something her dad and I talked about. She has the same passion, the same drive, and she’s genuine and humble, and all of that is so important to me. It’s not just about winning. She takes care of her horse. She gets up at 3 a.m.”

Today’s track tested riders’ decision-making abilities, and even after walking this morning, McKayla, 15, and her trainers weren’t certain what numbers she’d choose for a few of the bending lines. From fence 2 to the one-stride at 3AB, riders could have done five strides or four, with most, including McKayla, opting for the five. It was a similar decision in a bending line from fence 9 to a one-stride at 10AB, where riders could either do six or seven strides. A skinny oxer at fence 12 rode as a bit of a bogey fence, with several of the 30 who jumped having a rail down there.

“After watching many go, we thought the numbers we’d picked were correct,” McKayla said. “Everything rode like I expected. In the outside line, from the second jump to [the in-and-out at fence 3AB], I had to a little bit go more than I was expecting.”

But the judges’ decisions didn’t hinge on which striding options the riders chose.

“When I designed the courses, I was looking for execution of a plan from the riders. I set up difficult lines, and what we were really looking for was who had the plan and executed the plan.”

“If it was done well—that was the consideration,” added Caristo.

Deslauriers started out the final jumping phase in third place, but she moved up a spot with her bold trip. Goetzmann dropped one spot from second to third over the final round. Deslauriers, trained by her father, Mario Deslauriers, and Beacon Hill, was sitting on Great Expectations this week. Goetzmann, trained by John and Beezie Madden and Beacon Hill, tacked up Play It Again.

“Any one one of these great riders could have won this class today,” said Caristo. “It was splitting hairs. Chris did a tremendous job with the course with Bobby [Murphy], and it helped us to decide. The talent here—we have a winner, but the other two will sit up here in the No. 1 position too.”

This was the first year of a two-day format for this class, and the competition organizers haven’t yet decided if it’ll stay that way.

The Top 10: