For the third time this week, Israel’s Daniel Bluman led the victory gallop around the grand prix field at the Hampton Classic Horse Show. Topping the list of 31 starters on Sunday, September 3, 2017, Bluman won the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI4* presented by SOVARO®. The grand prix wrapped up a fantastic week of top international show jumping competition in Bridgehampton, NY.
With a late draw working in his favor, Bluman, riding aboard Ladriano Z, had the advantage of watching the competition before entering the arena in the first round.
At that point, only two riders had been able to produce clear rounds on the course designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade.
USA’s Brianne Goutal, who started in the top half of the order, was the first to leave the arena without a rail down and inside the time. Goutal would finish in an eventual 2nd place with the 16-year-old Nice de Prissey.
“I don’t think Alan Wade makes many mistakes,” said Goutal. “There was a reason why the jumps were put where they were. When we walked the course, we noticed the field has a little bit of a grade uphill in places, and you had to be really careful from the Jaguar gate. The six strides of that line drew you in a little bit to the front rail of the next jump, so you’d think you had a decent distance, and once you got there it was a short stride and then it was uphill again. It caught a lot of people.”
Midway through the class, USA’s McLain Ward and HH Callas went clean to ensure a jump-off. When Bluman, who entered the ring third to last, jumped a clean round, the crowd went wild.
The jump-off turned out to be all about strategy and precision. Goutal tried to secure another clear by being accurate rather than fast, but unluckily knocked a rail and opened the door for Ward and Bluman. Ward, second to go, tried to force his hand by setting the fastest time of 44.10 seconds, but two unfortunate rails at the last two fences cost him the win, and ultimately the Longines Leading Rider title as well. The duo would finish in 3rd.
“HH Callas was great today,” said Ward. “I thought she jumped beautifully in the first round. With Daniel coming behind me in the jump-off and with the week that he has had, I knew I had to put enough pressure on him. If I could have done it again, I would probably put another stride to the second-to-last jump; it was a little bit at the end of the mare’s stride and that is not the best way to be for her. It’s disappointing but that’s sport and I am not a guy who is going to leave it on the table. I needed to put his back against the wall and it blew up a little bit on me today, but a lot of days it works out as well. He is a great rider, a great competitor, he’s working very hard producing this horse. Actually, I tried to buy the horse last year and he didn’t let me, so on a lot of fronts I am proud for Daniel and we’ll go home as we always do and figure how we can try to do it a little better and come back and fight again next week.”
Bluman entered the competition coming off of his two previous FEI wins from earlier in the week. On Thursday, August 31, Bluman and Bacara d’Archonfosse won the $40,000 SOVARO® Speed Stake CSI4*. A day later, the duo returned to win the $86,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier. In the feature event on Sunday, the two-time Olympic veteran posted the only clean round of the jump-off, finishing in 46.09 seconds.
“When I walked the course I honestly thought there were going to be a few more clean rounds,” said Bluman. “I think it was nicely built, careful enough, big enough, as Alan’s courses have been all week. I don’t think there was any place where the horses really had to struggle. It played out the perfect way, only three in the jump-off, which is beautiful because you get to go in knowing you already have a nice piece of the pie.”
Ireland’s Richie Moloney, last years winner of the class, proved that consistent results yield big things, earning the Longines Rider Challenge as the Classic’s leading open jumper rider. Moloney received a Longines timepiece and a $30,000 check. In the five years that this award has existed at the Classic, Moloney has won it four times. Countryman Shane Sweetnam won it in 2015, meaning that it has been awarded only to Irish riders.
In a moving tribute prior to the Grand Prix, The Hampton Classic honored Brianne Goutal’s long-time mount Onira with a beautiful retirement ceremony in the Grand Prix ring. On Sunday, August 27, Onira proved he was going out on top, finishing 2nd in the $30,000 Boar’s Head Open Jumper Challenge.
“I always said I wouldn’t wait until he wasn’t good enough,” said Goutal after their final performance. “This was the first year I had to drop him down a level, and even though he wins and he is consistently competitive, I don’t want to get to a next level. He is finished now with competition, but my issue is that he loves it so much, so it will be hard to know what he will want to do next. I think we will keep him at the lighter work and gradually ease it up a little bit. Ideally, I would love for him to be turned out as I think that’s what horses should do in the end; just being well taken care of and go back to being a horse and not have to worry about anything.”
For the full results, visit this link.