Bridgehampton, NY - Two-time Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward rode to top honors in the $7,500 Open Jumper class at the Hampton Classic Horse Show on Wednesday afternoon riding Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms.
Some of the younger horses in the field of 40 had a tough time on the course, but Ward and Rothchild have been in this ring before.
"He performed well here last year so I knew he knew this field," said Ward. "I basically kind of stuck to the plan. Everything didn't show up exactly as I had planned on the rollback, but he's got a big stride so he dealt with it pretty well."
Debbie Stephens and All Star, owned by Centennial Farm, Inc., scored the first of the twelve clear rounds in the class in 73.605 seconds. Saer Coulter and Chalan, owned by Copernicus Stables, LLC, put their time to rest clocking in at 69.206 and eventually giving them the third spot. Jeffery Welles and Armani, owned by Abigail Wexner and Triton Ventures Farm, looked like they had the class locked up with 68.670 seconds until Ward and Rothchild took to the field. The pair saved a few steps and landed on top of the leader board in 66.352 seconds, giving Welles and Armani second place.
Ward's other mount Antares F, owned by Grant Road Partners, went clear and ended up just out of the top ten ribbons, but that was all part of the strategy. "The plan for today was to give Antares a chance to look at the ring and with Rothchild to take a little bit of a shot," said Ward. "So it worked out well so far."
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: McLain Ward and Rothchild taken last year.