Starring : Sophie St Clair, Invitational Rider of the Longines Masters of Los Angeles
Friday 04th September 2015 Los Angeles
Last year, at the inaugural Longines Masters of Los Angeles, junior rider Sophie St. Clair was one of the youngest competitors at the age of 15. She’ll return to the Los Angeles Convention Center once again in October, with an added year of experience to make her and her mare Ottavia des Hayettes major contenders in the 1.30-meter classes.
The high school junior from South Pasadena trains with David Sterckx at San Pascual Stables. Earlier this year, David’s sister, and co-trainer, Caroline traveled with Sophie and a few of her barn mates to Belgium, where Sophie rode in a private lesson with show jumping legend Nelson Pessoa—a thrilling way to celebrate her Sweet Sixteen.
The year of hard work will hopefully come to fruition when Sophie and her mount put their skills to the test inside the Longines Masters competition ring. Read on to learn more about how Sophie is preparing for the biggest show of her season and her tips for what to expect come show time. And remember, the opportunity to ride alongside Sophie in the Prestige and Invitational classes is still open, with limited availability, so contact Lindsay Field at for more information.
How are you preparing yourself and your horses for the competition?
I’ve recently moved up a couple of divisions, so I am preparing for the Masters by getting more confident at my new level of jumping. I usually don’t jump too much at home, but I do work on dressage and flatwork. I feel like it really strengthens my jumping game because it builds up my foundational skills.
What did you learn from the experience of showing at the Longines Masters last year, and what did you like best about the format?
The LA Masters in 2014 was one of the most prestigious and international events that I’ve ever entered. At 15, I was one of the youngest competitors there, and I had to dig deep for confidence so I could perform at my best. I turned the pressure into performance and didn’t let the stress get to me. It was really cool to prove to myself that I could really deliver at crunch time. And my best result was a second place in the Masters Grand Slam Trophy class.
The format was so great last year because after my classes, I could sit all day in the stands, or in the Prestige Village, and watch these incredible international riders do their thing. I really liked that I could observe how they warmed up their horses for competition and how each rider and horse had an individualized warm up. With one practice ring and one show ring, my classes never went when the international riders competed. This allowed me every opportunity to learn from watching them.
Of course, one of the best parts as a competing rider was the chance to sit in the riders’ section with the international riders. Observing their reactions and listening to their discussions on course strategy was priceless!
What will you be sure to pack into your trunk for your horse for the trip? 
Definitely ear plugs and lots of treats! Sometimes my mare, Ottavia des Hayettes, will get spooky at the camera flashes or the noise from the people milling about the Convention Center so the earplugs will come in handy. And the treats are coming for obvious reasons!
What will be sure to pack for yourself? 
A bottle of water to keep my mind working well, protein snacks to keep from sugar crashing, a jacket because it can be cold in the air conditioned Convention Center and my iPhone for posting pics of my favorite riders to social media!
What are your favorite places to visit or things to do in Los Angeles?
As a California kid, I think I’m obligated to say that I love the beach! Universal Studios and the Hollywood Bowl are so fun and great for tourists. My dad and I love music so we like going to Amoeba Music in Hollywood to shop for new music.
How does the competition fit into your overall show season? 
The LA Masters is a big highlight in my show schedule. It’s not that often that there’s such a bright spotlight on West Coast show jumping circuit. So it’s cool to see local riders enter in such a big competition. Even if I can’t ride in it every year, I won’t miss it for anything. The opportunity to see such a high level of show jumping is rare. It’s such an awesome experience, even just to watch. 
Have you set a particular goal to achieve at the show? 
I really want to ride well and to stay present in the moment. If I can do that, I have the best chance of success. I feel like winning and placing will be a happy byproduct of putting in a solid round. However, to win a berth to Paris or Hong Kong Masters would be a dream!
Which of your favorite riders are you excited to see at the show?
I love to watch Scott Brash because he’s the world number one, Jane Richard Philips because she brings such fire and passion to her rides, and my West Coast favorites are the two Richards (Spooner and Fellers)! 
What does it mean to you to ride at the LA Masters? 
My family sacrifices a lot to keep me competing at such a high level in this sport. It’s not very often that you have the opportunity to compete in such an incredible event like the LA Masters. It really makes me so grateful to my family for giving me the chance to compete at such a spectacular event.