M&S League Finals Full House

By September 10, 2015
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Jayme Shaprio & Mr. Coffee won the M&S 2’6″ Adult Medal Finals. (Photo: ESI)

The Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals, which runs through Sunday at HITS Saugerties, is at capacity, according to show management, who welcomed riders from around the country to compete at a national level. “It’s sold out again,” HITS CEO Tom Struzzieri said. “We can only take 500 horses.”

Now in its 24th year, the M&S League offers up-and-coming children and adult hunter, jumper and equitation riders the opportunity to compete throughout the year, earning their way to a  national finals, Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals, September 9-13, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in New York.

Created by HITS and supported since inception by Marshall & Sterling Insurance,  the league filled a void by bringing along riders who want a more accessible entry-point to serious showing that builds to the opportunity to test their skills against the best of their peers.

Currently, there are around 1,700 annual M&S league shows, many of them HITS-produced, A-rated shows that feature M&S classes (offering points, based on performance, that allow riders to earn their way to the finals).

The league also includes non-rated shows.  “The shows are all over the board,” Struzzieri added. “They’re across all markets, encompassing everything from ponies to adults, equitation to jumpers.”  Competition at this week’s finals  includes the Children’s Pony Medal Finals, the M&S Junior Amateur Horsemanship Final and $10,000 classes for Children’s and Adult Jumpers.

The M&S Finals play out in the arenas set for the HITS Championship Week, which took place Sept. 2-6. And while we assumed the jumps would be lowered, at the top level M&S competition in the hunter rings, they’re actually higher.  The M&S 2’6″ Medal Finals for both Children and Adults are an inch above the 2’5″ spec for the HITS Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix.

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Isabelle Greenbaum, and Tesoro win the $2,000 Adult Working Hunter Stake. (Photo: ESI)

It’s a rare opportunity for serious riders who might not be as driven as those who work their way up through the USEF system to compete on the some of the most beautiful rings in the nation (kind of like an avid weekend golfer getting to play at Augusta). The jumpers square off in the same arena, over many  of the same jumps, cleared by Beezie Madden and Simon, winners of last week’s CP $1 Million Grand Prix (though in this case, the bars have been lowered — from Olympic level! — for M&S).

Winners of yesterday’s M&S 2’6″ Adult Medal Finals class were Jayme Shapiro and Mr. Coffee, owned by Donald Stewart. The blue ribbon in Wednesday’s $2,000 Adult Working Hunter Stake went to Isabelle Greenbaum, riding her own Tesoro.

While the CP $1 Million represents the highest end of the sport, the Marshall & Sterling League represents the foundation and perhaps the future, Marshall & Sterling Equine Insurance chief Joe Norick speculated. “Some of the young talent in the ring this week may one day be leading the way for American show jumping just as Beezie Madden has done,” he said.

The Marshall & Sterling League launched in 1991 with 10 member shows and 100 riders, swelling to its current 1,700 shows and nearly 3,000 competitors.  In its 24 years, the league has provided tens of thousands of children’s, junior and adult amateur riders the opportunity to compete in divisions throughout the country and a prestigious National Finals event.

 

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