Running almost simultaneously on opposite coasts, New York's National at Madison Square Garden and San Francisco's Grand National at the Cow Palace offered the greatest possible contrast in horse shows. Above a cellar crammed full of horses, the Garden ring bristled with white-tied officials, a red-coated ringmaster and boxes filled with formally dressed spectators. Ringed by spacious barns, the Cow Palace's arena was filled alternately with rodeo and horse show events, and the only top hats visible were worn by riders in the three-gaited classes. The two shows, however, shared the most important thing: lots of good horses.
New York, always a magnet for the owners of top jumpers, continued to exercise its pull, drawing not only a great proportion of the horses from the Pennsylvania National at Harrisburg but additional horses from the eastern seaboard and the Middle West. Despite the competition from far and near, the final jumping results duplicated those of last year. Acrobatic Al Fiore again rode Mr. and Mrs. Bernie Mann's Riviera Wonder to win the championship, and reserve for the second year was rewarded to Miss Eleonora Sears's Diamant, with Charles Dennehey Jr. in the saddle.
It came as no great surprise when General Humberto Mariles and his Mexican team managed to capture most of the international jumping awards. It came as more of a surprise when Canada and Ireland (each had won only one event in Harrisburg) were second with three each. The Canadians, who had not had a good year since 1953,. were the victors in the low-score challenge event. Their record in this event, furthermore, still stands—in 1951 they won the three-day competition with no faults. Credit for the Canadian wins, and even for the existence of a team, goes to its captain, Bob Ballard. Six of the eight horses are his (two of them were purchased from Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands), and he has supported the team almost single-handedly through both bright and dismal years since 1947. "When we don't do well," Ballard explained good-naturedly, "we take home our white ribbons and dye them blue."
For the U.S., sailor on leave Hugh Wiley carried off the honors, winning two individual events on Nautical.
A CABLE FROM UNCLE
The Chileans, last seen in the United States in 1949, came close to the top on several occasions, when they were second four times. "We won once at Harrisburg," said Carabineros captain, Leopoldo Rojas, "and now we want very badly to win here too." He produced a cablegram from the President of Chile, tendering congratulations and his assurance of their continued success. "Our horses have had a long trip and we are pleased to be second in such competition—almost the best in the world!" Rojas added gallantly. He then returned the cable to his pocket, explaining, "The president of Chile is my uncle." On the next to last day, the Chileans won their blue, and the cable to Santiago was busy again.
The hunter division was well filled with the expected first-rate horses, and the conformation championship honors went to Chinquapin Farm's Silver-miner. The 6-year-old gray from Tryon, N.C. was ridden by Jack Payne. Reserve was last year's champion Jazz Session, now owned by Krystn Glancy of Grosse Pointe, Mich. and ridden by his former owner, Morton Smith. Working hunter honors went to Mrs. Eligio Del Guercio Jr.'s Bronze Wing.
The Beacon Hill Farms again captured the Arabian stake—but this year with a different horse. Their 16-year-old chestnut stallion, Sarab-al-Sahra, which Arthur Godfrey rides bareback at home, was named champion, with Fritz Rudon aboard. Their champion of 1955, the gray Alyfar, placed sixth.
As with the jumpers, the big stake winners in the Hackney pony and saddle horse divisions were the familiar names of other years. The Dodge Stables' Cora's Mite was Hackney pony champion for the third year in a row. Another three-time winner was the Bruce H. Seabright's Wild Sensation, driven by Mrs. Seabright to the big award in the fine-harness stake.
The Delaine Farm of Morton Grove, Ill. continued adding to its national record. Mrs. Louise Hart again rode her well-named bay mare, Something Wonderful, to victory in the five-gaited event, after her trainer, Charles Huston, had won the three-gaited championship with Foolish Notion. Mrs. Hart was then presented with the Watson Amateur Challenge trophy, for the fifth year in a row.