Bridgehampton, NY—September 4, 2011— McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, made history yet again with another win in the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier at the 36th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, NY, on Sunday. Riding Antares F, owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC, the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist tied his own record winning a grand prix at the Classic on three consecutive days. He also tied Margie Engle’s record by winning the featured Grand Prix at the Classic for three consecutive years and added to his own record by winning the Classic’s featured Grand Prix six times, twice as many as anyone else.
Ward earned the win by topping a field of 33 riders, seven of whom qualified for the jump-off by completing the 16-jump, first-round course without penalty. The first to return for the seven-jump tiebreaker course, Kent Farrington of Chicago, IL, apparently told everyone to go home when he completed the jump-off fault-free in a blazing time of 32.96 seconds on Uceko, owned by R.C.G. Farm.
“I watched Kent go and I said, ‘my god, I would like to be in the clubhouse with that round,” Ward said of Farrington’s trip around the Guillerme Jorge designed course. “I knew he had done eight strides to the third jump after the wall and I thought that was the only place maybe I could get him.” “Actually, to be honest I thought I was in trouble with McLain coming after me,” said Farrington. “He’s one of the best riders in the world and he’s also one of the fastest. I thought I left the door open.”
The crowd had to wait a couple of rides to find out as Ward was fourth in the line-up. As he and Antares entered the ring the spectators were silent, but their anticipation was deafening as Ward negotiated the course. When the pair finally crossed the wire, the clock stopped less than two tenths of a second faster than Farrington as Ward finished in a time of 32.78 seconds and history was repeated. “I wasn’t really riding for second,” said Ward, “and I said to myself ‘oh well I guess I have to commit,’ and I got him by a hair. Two tenths of a second isn’t very much, but I have a great horse.”
The final rider, Ljubov Kochetova of Russia, rode to a clear round on Royce, the youngest horse in the class at only seven years old. She finished in a time of 40.11 seconds for third place. Kochetova also made history as the first Russian rider to compete at the Classic.
“This is the best show in our country, it always has been,” said Ward. “I always bring my best horse because I believe that the event that is put on here is worthy of that. It means a lot to win here, it means as much for me to win this Grand Prix as any.”