Bridgehampton, NY—September 2, 2011— McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, won the $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Grand Prix Qualifier CSI**** by less than 1/10th of a second over Ashlee Bond of Hidden Hills, CA, at the 36th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, NY, on Friday. Ward went fourth out of the nine that made it to the jump-off riding Antares F, owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC. He went clear in a time of 39. 83 seconds and looked like he was in the winner’s circle.
Then Bond, the final rider, entered the ring. She and Chivas Z, owned by Little Valley Farms, blazed around the course and it looked like she was going to take it all until the time showed on the clock of 39.92 seconds. “I knew there were a couple of fast riders coming in behind me in Darragh Kenny, Ashlee Bond, and my student Katie,” said Ward. “But I was going to try and lay down a tough round and thankfully it was.”
Ward’s young student Katie Dinan, 17, of New York, NY, nearly beat her teacher. She and Vancouver, owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC, beat Ward’s time with 39.73 seconds, but had a rail down at the last fence for four faults, dropping her to seventh place. Ward was still beaming about his student. “I thought Katie could make an inside turn to the double combination,” said Ward. “I told her this is the time to try it. She executed it beautifully, but was a little bit unlucky at the last fence. She’s nipping at my heels and I am very proud of her.”
Any horse and rider combination that completed the course in the Qualifier can compete in the Sunday’s featured event at the Classic, the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier, but Ward has a little more at stake. He has won it the last two years and a record five times overall. “I try to make it just another day at the office but that‘s just not reality. I am a competitive person,” said Ward. “I don’t really think about the pressure of winning another year, I just think of the pressure day in and day out that I like to win. There are not many things I enjoy more than winning and there’s not much more that I dislike than losing. We try to keep progressing and doing better and better.”
One of the most prestigious horse shows in the nation, the Hampton Classic managed to keep almost its entire competition schedule, albeit compressed from eight days into five. The Classic runs through Sunday, September 4.
The Classic’s revised show schedule is available on line at the Hampton Classic website at www.hamptonclassic.com. The Classic is also providing frequent updates on its Facebook page.
For those who can’t make it to the show grounds, WVVH-TV, the official Long Island television station of the Hampton Classic, broadcasts up to five hours of competition and highlights each day during the Classic. These broadcasts can also be seen online at www.wvvh.tv.