Bridgehampton, NY - Marengo, owned by the Dobbs Group, gave Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, a blue ribbon, the perfect accessory for her win in the $30,000 FENDI Open Jumper Challenge at the Hampton Classic Horse Show on Saturday afternoon. Two-time Olympic gold medalist and last year's winner of this class, McLain Ward was second riding Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve, owned by Louisburg Farm, and Jeffery Welles and Zycarla Z, owned by Abigail Wexner, were third.
"He is so special, he knows when it's the jump-off and he went in breathing fire," said Dobbs. "I have such a great relationship with that horse. He is as competitive as I am and he wants to win. I can't say enough good things about him."
Seven horse and rider combinations out of 32 starters made it into the jump-off. Welles and Merlin, owned by Noel Love Gross, started things off with a clear round in a time of 39.402 seconds. Ward was next on Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve and pushed Welles out of the lead, going clear over the Guilherme Jorge designed course in a time 38.388. Aaron Vale and Paparazzi 10 had a rail down, knocking them out of contention. Sloane Coles and Carburn Royal Exchange were clear but slow in a time of 40.915.
Then came Dobbs and Marengo. "I didn't see McLain go, but I knew he was fast", said Dobbs. "My horse was so quick across the ground and so naturally careful, that I was able to take a shot at the last few jumps."
The pair zipped around fault free in a time of 37.903 seconds to take the top of the leader board with two left to jump. Danielle Goldstein and Adamo Van't Steenputje, were clear, but their time of 42.612 was not fast enough. As the last to go, Welles had one more chance to win with his second mount Zycarla Z, but the pair was a little more than a second off the mark, crossing the timers in 39.236.
Dobbs had a little advantage over the other riders. She was given advice from her grandmother prior to the class. "Just before the class started my grandmother told me 'It's really windy out don't get close to the rails', so I said thanks Grandma, I'll be sure to keep that in mind!"
Hillary Dobbs also collected the National Open Jumper Championship award for her placings throughout the week in the Open Jumper classes at the Hampton Classic Horse Show.
The Hampton Classic Horse Show is one of the most prestigious horse shows in the nation and features competitors at every level from young children in leadline to Olympic veterans. The Classic continues through Sunday when it culminates with the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier.
For those who can't make it to the show grounds, WVVH-TV, the official Long Island television station of the Hampton Classic, is broadcasting up to five hours of competition and highlights each day during the Classic. These broadcasts can also be seen online at www.wvvh.tv.
Hampton Classic Horse Show, Inc. is a 501.c.3 charitable corporation. It benefits Southampton Hospital and has contributed more than $1.5 million to the hospital since it began.
For more information on the Hampton Classic Horse Show, please visit the Hampton Classic website at www.hamptonclassic.com or call (631) 537-3177.
Photo: Hillary Dobbs and Marengo taken earlier this year.