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Rebecca Walton
November 2, 2014
Andre Dignelli Discusses 2014 ASPCA Maclay Championship
By Rebecca Walton
Sunday, November 2, 2014 :: Posted 05:45:14 PM EST

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© Rebecca Walton: Tori Colvin Presentation
Tori Colvin was presented with the 2014 ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Championship at the 2014 National Horse Show after a nail-biting test between the top two.

 Andre Dignelli is the head trainer and owner of Heritage Farm of Katonah, New York. Tori Colvin’s victory in today’s 2014 ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay National Championship marked his third victory at the event in three years. The talented trainer has helped countless young riders capture championship titles, and today he shared the secrets to helping junior phenom Colvin earn the winning title.

Do you know how many times you have won this event?

They said today that I have won it five times, and for my team it is three years in a row. My hat is off to them. Heritage is 100 horses and 15 employees, and everyone plays such a huge role. Really, Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley taught Tori how to ride. When I got the call to be a part of this great team I felt a huge obligation not to mess it up. You would like to see someone at this level win a championship like this and to become a part of history. My advice to her was that when she walks into a hunter ring she thinks she is invincible. When you walk in today, you have to feel the same way, and not let it slip by you. She did.
© Rebecca Walton: Andre Dignelli
Was there any extra pressure on you because of Tori’s long resume to win an equitation championship?

I was excited to be a part of this. I think there’s no question that she is a phenomenal rider with a great eye for distance and had won all kinds of accolades. There was definitely a hope that I could lead her to a national title.

I think what I worked on the most was for us to have a relationship. I felt that, with all the people I’ve helped over the years, part of why they won was that we were a team. Each week our relationship has gotten stronger. When I told her that we were going to go inside and do the 3 to the 5, she looked at me and said, ‘You’re the boss. I am here because you know how to do this.’ So she never really doubted the choice or the track.

I’m supportive in the hunters, I’m helping her in the equitation, and I’m helping her in the jumpers. I felt a huge obligation to get this done and not let this moment slip by us.

And she had a bit of an up and down Finals season up until today?

Yeah, we had bobbles. I have to say I think on paper coming into this Indoors, she looked like a frontrunner. She had a silly mistake at the USET Finals, which kept her out of the hunt, she had a rail down at Harrisburg. We chose to ride Clearway at Washington. He’s a great horse and I don’t know that that partnership is ready to win a championship yet.

We didn’t question our choice to use Patrick. We’ve worked hard on the flat. She’s worked very hard at being fitter. So I think the whole picture and presentation, the leg being still, the back being flat – she had all the rest of it. There have been so many players who have helped her: her mom, [Dr. Betsee Parker], everyone at Heritage, Ken and Scott, Missy providing that lovely horse when the time came. It’s been such a team to make this happen, and I’m happy that I did my part.

What was the key to making this win happen?

She didn’t lack confidence, but I’m not sure she believed that this would happen to her in this division. I noticed that this week when I watched her ride Ovation. She really believes that no one’s going to beat her in any of the classes. I watched her class after class after class, the same in the jumpers, and I just pulled her aside and said, ‘You know, nobody rides better than you. Grab this. Make this happen.’

I kept doing that all day. I told her, ‘You stayed right in your place after the flat. They rewarded you over the jumps, you stayed in your place, you came back again. Now you’re changing horses. This is not over until it’s over.’

I thought the class was over for a second. A little slip-up opened the door for us. She’ll have this championship for the rest of her life and I’m thrilled I was able to help with that.

Thank you so much for your time and congratulations.

Thank you.

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