Bridgehampton, NY - Aug 30 - McLain Ward, of Brewster, N.Y., won his second jumper class of the 37th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show on Thursday morning, guiding Vocas to the fastest clean jump-off round in the $7,5000 Prudential Douglas Elliman 1.45m Open Jumper class. Riding about halfway through the 35-horse class, Ward and Vocas recorded a faultless first round and then finished the jump-off clean in a time of 34.98 seconds to take the lead. They then withstood the challenges of 13 other horses in the jump-off, against top riders from the United States, Ireland and England. Louisburg Farm, of Boston, MA owns Vocas.
Shane Sweetnam of Ireland rode aggressively, on Spy Coast Farm’s Siri, to try to win his second jumper class of the Hampton Classic, but his time of 35.26 seconds fell just short. Christine McCrea, of Suffield, Conn., urged Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables’ Avenir to third place (37.06). McCrea, 34, double Gold Medalist at last year’s Pan American Games, also claimed sixth place on Victor E (38.13).
Ward, 36, rode on his third Olympic team this summer in London. He won team gold medals in 2004 and 2008, and he’s won the Hampton Classic’s $250,000 FTI Grand Prix for the last three years. He’s aiming the 2011 winner, Antares F, for victory again.
This year, the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix is part of the new Taylor Harris Triple Crown Challenge, which awards a $200,000 bonus to a horse-and-rider combination if they win the $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon, $250,000 FTI Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic, and $250,000 Alltech Grand Prix at the Alltech National Horse Show. Ward won the Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon on Antares F in May and is now the only rider who can win the $200,000 bonus this year—if he can win the remaining two events in the Taylor Harris Triple Crown Challenge.
On his second mount, Sweetnam, 31, actually eclipsed Ward’s winning mark, as he stopped the jump-off clock in 33.26 seconds. But Everlychin De La Pomme lowered the last two fences of the final double combination, to finish out of the money with 8 faults. Irish rider Richie Maloney also bested Ward’s mark, but Alsvid (34.87) lowered the third-last fence, an oxer, to finish with 4 faults and settle for eighth place.
The 37th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show runs through Sunday, Sept. 2, and features world-class show jumping competition, as well as magnificent shopping and a variety of entertainment attractions. The Classic features six show rings with more than 100 classes of competition for horses and riders of all ages. A wide range of jumper, hunter, equitation, short stirrup and leadline classes are all part of the Classic’s schedule, as well as competitions for riders with disabilities.
The highlight of the Hampton Classic is the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier on Sunday, September 2. The Grand Prix, open to horses that successfully complete Friday's $50,000 Spy Coast Farm/Young Horse Show Series Grand Prix Qualifier, features Olympians, World Champions and other show jumping veterans.
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 on line at www.wvvh.tv.
All classes held in the Grand Prix Ring will also be available live throughout the horse show on webcasts provided by ShowNet. Access to this pay-per-view stream may be found on the Hampton Classic website at www.HamptonClassic.com, or via ShowNet membership at www.ShowNet.biz. In addition, most of the Classic’s jumper and hunter classes from all other rings will also be available, many live, through ShowNet at www.ShowNet.biz.
Two additional outlets, the USEF Network.com, Presented by SmartPak, and HRTV, The Network for Horse Sports, will both offer free live webcasts of the Classic’s featured event, the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier on Sunday, September 2 starting at 2:00 p.m. EDT. These free live webcasts are available at www.USEFNetwork.com and www.HRTV.com.
Further information on the Hampton Classic Horse Show is available at the Hampton Classic website at www.HamptonClassic.com or by calling 631-537-3177. Hampton Classic Horse Show, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation.
Photo: McLain Ward rode Vocas to win the $7,500 Prudential Douglas Elliman 1.45m Open Jumper at the Hampton Classic. (ESI photo)