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A capital offense

Washington's horse show drew top hunters and jumpers but few kind words or spectators

The second annual Washington horse show, which finally clopped and clumped to a conclusion at 2 a.m. on a rainy Wednesday last week, was a lackluster shambles. Because horses don't talk and humans frequently talk too much, no one will get the straight of it all very soon, but it appeared that the armory, while almost empty of spectators, was filled with enough intrigue to make the court of old Louis XIV seem like a plotter's kindergarten.

It was all the sadder because the collection of highest-quality hunters and jumpers present should have made any show a success. Instead, an evening at the armory was mainly soporific. The courses were dull and the appearance of the ring was drab. Still worse, the footing was treacherous. The airless stabling, furthermore, resulted in coughs and colds among the horses and, in the case of two of the big saddle horse exhibitors, in an abrupt exit with their entire string before the show was even halfway over.

However, simply because there was so much high-quality horseflesh on the scene, some of the competition was bound to be good.

That sensational jumper, Windsor Castle, who, under the auspices of his new owners, Harold Marzano and Si Jayne (SI, July 20), has been champion at every show in which he has appeared this year, was back to defend his title. But this time he had a real fight on his hands. Warren Wofford, onetime USET member now living in England, returned to this country for the event, bringing his little Kansas-bred mare, Pat's Sister. This mare was the runt of the farm but she had a fiery jumping ability, and Wofford has been campaigning her successfully in Europe. Her ability showed in Washington, too, and as the stake class ended, the show's jumper championship was still undecided: Windsor Castle and Pat's Sister were deadlocked with the same number of points. In the jump-off Windsor Castle went first and went clean. Wofford brought Pat's Sister into the ring next, but the little mare rubbed the top pole of the very first fence. So Windsor Castle was again the champion, with the mare in the reserve spot.


There was another tie that evening, though it took the officials a while to realize it. The conformation hunter titles and trophies were awarded: Mrs. Winston Guest's Cameda was the champion, with the Pettibones' Duke of Paeonian in the reserve spot. But one of the newsmen covering the show had been keeping his own set of points and found they did not tally with the official results. He asked for an explanation. It was then discovered that two horses were tied for the reserve honors and, what's more, the Duke of Paeonian was not even one of them. So the championship ribbon and trophy were retrieved from the Duke's owners, and a hack-off held to break the tie between the Fred A. Wilsons' Dragnet and Mrs. J. Deane Rucker's Spanish Mint. It was Spanish Mint who got the slightly used tricolored ribbon and trophy in the end.

The international jumping, featuring riders from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, was a sort of watered-down Pan American Games. The U.S. riders won six of the eight classes. The only classes they did not win were captured by Nelson Pessoa from Copacabana, Brazil. It was about 11 o'clock on the final night when he was awarded the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Challenge Trophy for the international jumping stake. There were still three more stake classes to go; they went before an almost empty house.