Russell Stewart, Sr., and Main Spring Inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame
Showjumping Press Release
Tampa, FL, -- The Show Jumping Hall of Fame conducted its annual induction ceremonies during the intermission at the Budweiser American Invitational on April 3 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. J. Russell Stewart, Sr. and Main Spring were inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. They join 52 previous inductees whose contributions to the sport set them apart and earned them the honor of enshrinement in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.
J. Russell Stewart, Sr. was born in Albany, NY, in 1926. He began riding at age 11, and though he had no formal training, subsequently began showing successfully in the jumper divisions. By the time he returned to New York after serving in the army during World War II, he was well recognized for his riding and training abilities.
During the 1940s and '50s, Stewart continued to hone his self-taught riding skills and he made a name for himself in the jumper ring with such well known horses as My Play Boy, on whom he earned the 1941 AHSA Open Jumper Championship.
In 1961, Stewart took over the management of Coosaw Farms and Airy Hall Plantation in South Carolina for Mr. and Mrs. Albert Love of Atlanta, GA. While there he continued to train hunters and jumpers into the early 1970s, having much success with horses such as Big John and Blue Plum.
It was during the mid-'60s that Stewart accomplished the feat for which he is best known: three consecutive wins in the National Horse Show's famed Puissance Stake. Stewart first rode Airy Hall's 17-hand brown gelding, Dear Brutus, to capture the win in 1965. The duo followed up with another Puissance win in 1966, leaping to a then-record height of 7'1". To retire the Chrysler Imperial Challenge Trophy in 1967, Stewart and Dear Brutus bettered their previous year's jump by two inches, claiming victory for the third time in a row and setting National Horse Show and U.S. records. The pair's record held until 1973.
Stewart moved to Christimar Farms in Santa Barbara, CA, in 1971. Two years later, he rode Grey Chief to win the AHSA Open Jumper Championship. Grey Chief was also named Horse of the Year later that year. Stewart and Grey Chief also won the $10,000 World Championship Jumper Class held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA, in 1974. During his tenure, Stewart led Christimar's entries to victory in 14 out of 17 High Score Championships offered on the Pacific coast.
Besides his numerous show jumping successes, Stewart also had many great accomplishments in the hunter ring, winning multiple AHSA Hunter Championships throughout his career.
Stewart retired in 1986, ending his nearly half-century-long career. His legacy of success in the hunter/jumper world was carried on by his son, J. Russell "Rusty" Stewart, Jr.
Main Spring, a Canadian-bred gelding owned by the late William D. "Billy" Haggard, III, was the second outstanding mount Haggard loaned to the United States Equestrian Team during the 1960s and '70s following the retirement of Bold Minstrel. Purchased by Haggard after a sensational National Horse Show debut in 1971 under Rodney Jenkins, Main Spring went on to chalk up many international victories under the piloting of Show Jumping Hall of Famers, William Steinkraus and Frank Chapot.
Perhaps his most memorable career highlight came in Munich in 1972 in his role as backup to the 1968 Gold Medalist, Snowbound. When the latter sustained a leg injury in the individual competition of the Games, Steinkraus went on to compete Main Spring in the team event and turned in the best overall score of the day in the Nations' Cup, producing one of only three clear rounds in the entire event. The duo helped the U.S. team win the Silver Medal, finishing a mere .25 faults behind the Gold Medal-winning Federal Republic of Germany.
Following the Olympics, Steinkraus and Main Spring went on to help the United States clinch three Nations Cup wins on the fall circuit at the end of 1972. The year also included wins in the Gubelin Preis at Lucerne and the Munchner Versicherung at Aachen as well as the Grand Prix of Toronto. Steinkraus also rode Main Spring to two victories at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden, winning the Volco Trophy and the Stake, and also to the International Individual Championship in Harrisburg.
After Steinkraus retired at the end of 1972, Main Spring acquired a new partner in Steinkraus's teammate Frank Chapot. Main Spring and Chapot aided the U.S. team to two Nations Cup victories that year one in Washington and one in Toronto. They also emerged victorious in the Grand Prix of Toronto. Nationally, Chapot and Main Spring won the Volco Trophy at the National Horse Show as well as the Bonus Class in Washington.
The highlight of Main Spring's partnership with Chapot came in 1974 when the pair earned the individual Bronze Medal at the Show Jumping World Championships in Hickstead, England.
For further information about the Show Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum, visit the Hall of Fame website at www.showjumpinghalloffame.net.