McLain Ward’s Win in the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix

McLain Ward’s Win in the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix

McLain Ward / HH Gigi's Girl

The 43rd annual Hampton Classic Horse Show featured more than 200 classes of hunter, jumper and equitation classes for approximately1600 horses and riders of all ages and abilities. They competed in six beautifully manicured show rings across 60 acres. Riders from twelve nations – including Olympic and World Cup champions – competed in five FEI classes, culminating in a brilliant win by McLain Ward in the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI**** presented by Douglas Elliman for a record seventh time.

Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam won the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge as the Classic’s leading open jumper rider. Sweetnam received a stunning Longines timepiece and a check for $30,000. Sweetnam, who won the award in 2015, also won watches for winning Friday’s $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier presented by Longines, and Saturday’s $70,000 Longines Cup, in addition to one for finishing second in Sunday’s final Grand Prix, giving him a total of four for the weekend!

For Sunday’s Grand Prix, course designer Michel Vaillancourt built a challenging course at the maximum height of 1.60m, including a line of jumps taking the competitors nearly the entire length of the packed VIP tent. The tough course was a true test of ability, resulting in just five of the 34 horse-and-rider pairs advancing to the jump-off round.

Ward, never one to ride for second place, pulled out all the stops with HH Gigi’s Girl, the 10-year-old grey mare owned by Double H Farm, and pulled off a daring sharp turn to the Jaguar vertical that saved him time. They cleared the course in a time of 39.32 seconds, knowing the speedy Sweetnam was yet to come. The only time Ward let up on the gas was heading to the very last fence, and only for a split second, knowing that if he pushed any more, he would risk having the last jump down.

Eventual third-place finisher Lucy Davis was unable to catch Ward’s time. Riding Caracho, she left the jumps up, but crossed the timers in 42.47 seconds. Last to jump, Sweetnam rode Main Road to a clean ride but crossed the timers outside of the leading time in 41.24 seconds to finish in second place.

“The line from the Jaguar vertical to the last jump ended up being a steady seven strides,” said Ward. “It was one of those lines where although the seven seemed steady, almost holding, doing six strides would become kamikaze. I also didn’t know what quality the jump would be off the full rollback to the Jaguar. Gigi slipped just a tiny bit on the tight rollback turn she made to the Jaguar fence, which actually worked out perfectly because it meant I could support and push up to it. However, she is young and still a bit inexperienced. I knew I had done a lot already and heading down that last line, I had to take a bit off the gas pedal.”

Results – Grand Prix HERE

Categories: News, Show Jumping