Articles: Press Release
Sapphire Sparkles at the
2009 Hampton Classic Horse Show
McLain Ward on Sapphire © James Leslie Parker
McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, made history at the Hampton Classic Horse Show
by winning the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier for a
record fourth time. He was riding his two-time Olympic team gold medal
horse, Sapphire, owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock. Previously, Ward
was tied with Margie Engle and Rodney Jenkins with three victories each.
The 34th Hampton Classic, one of the nation's premier show jumping
competitions, culminated on Sunday, August 30. The Classic hosts
hunter/jumper competition for riders ranging from the youngest competitors
in Leadline and Short Stirrup classes all the way up to Olympic veterans in
the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix.
Expectations were high for the FTI Grand Prix, as the starting lineup
featured a "Who's Who" of show jumping. However, the first clean round did
not come until the thirteenth rider, Judy Garofalo Torres of Dover Plains,
NY, riding Higher Ground Farm's Oliver. Torres had to wait a long time to
see if anyone in the field of 35 would challenge her fault-free
performance. One by one the best riders and horses in the country were
beaten by the Conrad Homfeld designed course as rails continued to fall.
"I was kind of surprised," said Torres of the lack of clean rounds. "My
horse did so well. I did think there would be a few more clears. I was
getting pretty excited at the end."
The possibility of no jump-off was erased by the day's last rider, McLain
Ward, and his Belgian warmblood mare, Sapphire. The audience collectively
held its breath as Sapphire negotiated the fences without fault, creating a
battle for the jump-off; Ward on his mare and Torres on her 19-year-old
Torres went first in the tiebreaker and rode conservatively leaving all the
rails up, but in a beatable time of 56.88 seconds. Ward made it look easy
rolling around the Grand Prix turf flawlessly, posting a winning time of
50.81. Third place went to Darragh Kenny and Obelix, owned by Trade Wind
Farm, the fastest of the myriad of four-fault rounds.
"The course was quite difficult," said Ward. "Over the last few years the
standard has gone up again. Shanette (Cohen) has taken the show to another
level. The water line was spooky and caused a lot of trouble and the last
line was a little mushy which might be why rails went down there, but the
footing held up great."
Since Ward was the last to go in the first round due to his win in the
Qualifier, and there were only two in the jump-off, there was not too much
time in between rounds, making it a little tough for Ward and Sapphire.
"She was running out of gas at the end of the jump-off and so was I, but she
knows the game and was able to get it done," said Ward. "Either she keeps
getting better or I stopped getting in her way."
This is the seventh win for Sapphire in 2009 (and the 118th career win for
Ward), an amazing statistic for any horse, but especially for a 14-year-old
mare. "This year we picked the FTI events, they have been very good to us,"
joked Ward referring to his previous FTI victory in the $400,000 Grand Prix
Even though Torres did not make it to the winner's circle, she was not too
disappointed. "I have had him for ten years," said Torres referring to her
19-year-old. "I wanted this to be the class of the year, the main event for
him. Coming in second to McLain is very, very exciting. I'll take it."
Sussex, NJ, and Marengo returned to reclaim their title, winning a second
consecutive $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge, the featured jumping
competition on the Opening Day of the Hampton Classic. Dobbs, 21, a senior
at Harvard University, won with a time of 55.85 seconds.
This year's Old Field Trophy - Long Island Sportsmanship Award was presented
to Alvin Topping by Elite Equine Shavings. Old Field Farm created the award
two years ago to honor a Long Island horse person who has demonstrated
excellence in sportsmanship. Topping owns Swan Creek Farm in
Bridgehampton. He is on the board of directors of the U.S. Hunter Jumper
Association and is vice-chair of the Zone 2 committee.
New York City clinched the Local Hunter Grand Championship on Opening Day,
amassing enough points in the Local Hunter Non Pro division to claim the
Championship in the division and the overall Grand Championship. Riggio
continued her winning streak on another horse she owns, Fiddler's Bridge,
who took her to the top in the Local Amateur Owner Hunter Championship.
The Toppings of Sagaponack, NY, swept the Local Hunter Pro Championship,
with Gretchen Topping winning section A on Royal Palm (owned by Riggio) and
Jagger Topping taking section B on Sun Phoenix (owned by Barbara Borg).
Local Junior Hunter Champion was Molly Sullivan of Nataincock, NY, with Get
Smart, owned by Kristie McKenna. The pair won Section A of the Local Junior
Hunter division. The Section B was won by Alexis Asch of New York City on
Man of the Hour.
In the Short Stirrup division, the Grand Champion was Madeline Belle Flock
of New York City aboard Just Because. She won her section of Short Stirrup
Equitation 10-12, as did Deanna Garzia of West Islip on Kiss Me Kait. Short
Stirrup Champions, in the 9 and under division, were: Yazmine Rizby of
Greenwich, Conn., on Playstation; Lola Consuelos of New York City on Dawn's
Early Light; Samantha Cohen of New York City on Go for Gold; and Kayla Ryan
of New York City on You've Got Mail.
Students from Horseability, a therapeutic riding center on Long Island,
claimed the championships in all three divisions in the 4th Annual Long
Island Horse Show Series for Riders With Disabilities Finals on Monday.
Coryn Villanti captured the Equitation With Aides division, Todd Pritscher
took Independent Equitation, and Tara Smilowitz won Advanced Independent.
Villanti (riding Diamond), Pritscher (Blue) and Smilowitz (Daisy) proved
they were true champions, as did the rest of the competitors.
Junior riders Victoria Birdsall and Jacqueline Lubrano emerged victorious in
the two sections of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent
Search. Lubrano, 18, of Glenmoore, Penn., rode Horizon Hill Farms' Lennox
to win the A division. Birdsall, 15, of Topsfield, Mass., rode Sierra to
capture the B division.
Olympian Joe Fargis of Middleburg, Va., cruised to a win aboard Diams III in
the $7,500 Cavalor 1.35m Open Jumper Class. Fargis won with a score of
56.566 and also finished fourth (59.763).
It was a home court advantage for Georgina Bloomberg of New York City, who
galloped to victory aboard Fiedi 3 in the $7,500 Dreaming Creek 1.45m Open
Jumper Class. Bloomberg led the field with a score of 66.805.
Jeffery Welles piloted Tango to top honors in the $7,500 Prudential Douglas
Elliman 1.45m Open Jumper class. Welles' winning 37.680 seconds bested the
other eight riders who posted clear first round efforts to advance to the
Brianne Goutal of New York City and Mon Gamin-Cloverleaf Farm's famed
"painted pony"-showed their winning colors in the $15,000 Arcadia Aviation
1.40m Speed Derby.
The pair breezed through the course in a time of 75.850 seconds.
Ward and Sapphire showed the field of 50 how it's done, handily winning the
$50,000 Spy Coast Grand Prix Qualifier on Friday. One of 11 clear rides in
the first round, Ward claimed what seems to be his perpetual pot of gold,
turning in a winning time of 43.440 seconds with no faults in the jump off
round. On Saturday, riding Goldika, owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock,
he bested the field of 20 to win the $30,000 FENDI Cup. Ward and Goldika,
were the fastest of the three double clears winning in a time of 36.568
On Friday evening, the JustWorld International Horseless Horse Show was very
well attended by children of all ages. While their parents enjoyed the food
in the VIP Tent, the kids galloped and jumped the mini courses with
unbounded glee. The event, benefitting Jessica Newman's JustWorld
International, has become so popular with the kids, that they can be seen
practicing their jumping skills everywhere on the showgrounds.
Chris Kappler and VDL Dundee, owned by Sand Castle Farm, won the $30,000
Split Rock Farm Young Jumper Championship for 6-year-olds. Kappler was the
only one to score a double clear in the class.
In the $20,000 SHF Enterprises Young Jumper Championship for 5-year-olds,
three made it to the jump-off with clear rounds. Andrew Bourns and S&L
Waikiki, owned by S & L Farm, negotiated the fastest clear in the jump-off
to win in a time of 39.071 seconds.
Four made it to the jump-off in the $15,000 WGHR Farm Junior/Amateur Jumper
Classic and the winner was Alexandra Thornton riding Silvana, owned by
Dunwalke, LLC, managing the only clear round in a time of 44.468 seconds.
Schaefer Raposa, 15, of Clinton, N.Y., braved the rain to win the $10,000
Wolffer Estate Equitation Championship riding Y2K, owned by renowned show
jumping veteran Hap Hansen. Raposa and Y2K finished with a score of
88.500. The trainer award went to Andre Dignelli.
Rain could not keep the children away from Cablevision Kids' Day on
Saturday, August 29. Hundreds of children packed into the tent to enjoy the
Big Apple Circus - Circus To Go!, a petting zoo, animal acts and other
Victoria Birdsall of Topsfield, MA., topped the $25,000 Carolex Show Jumping
Derby, a member event of the Cavalor Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper
Classic Series, with a lightning fast performance riding Jerremy, owned by
McLain Ward won the $30,000 7 & 8 Year Old Young Jumper Championship aboard
his and Bluechip Bloodstock's XM.
Hampton Classic Championship honors and special awards presented on Grand
Prix Sunday were: Grand Hunter Champion (tie) Sambalino, owned by Gina Day,
and Smart Pak, owned by Meredith Bross. Leading Hunter Rider was Emily
Williams; Leading Junior Rider was Jessica Springsteen, whose Sublime was
named Grand Junior Hunter Champion. Springsteen also won Leading Junior
Equitation Rider. The National Open Jumper Champion was McLain Ward.
One of the major events at the Hampton Classic is celebrity watching, and
this year did not disappoint. Screen legend Robert Duvall talked horses
with many in attendance, while Jill Rappaport, Brianne Goutal, Kristen
Johnston and Aida Turturro all proudly showcased their dogs during the
Opening Ceremonies Celebrity Dog Agility competition sponsored by the
ASPCA. Proud parents Bruce Springsteen and wife Patti were on hand to watch
daughter Jessica capture numerous titles throughout the show. Lou and Debi
Dobbs were also on hand to watch daughter Hillary compete on the grand prix
field. Lola Consuelos made her parents, Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa,
proud as she emerged from the ring with a championship in the Short Stirrup
division, while Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw cheered on daughter Destry
Spielberg, who won a highly competitive Large Pony Hunter class. Bill
O'Reilly, Jean Reno, Ahmad Rashad, Maurice Dubois, Mayor Giuliani, and LA
Reid were also in attendance.
The 2010 Hampton Classic, back to its traditional schedule of ending on
Labor Day weekend, will be held August 29-September.