Irish rider Richie Moloney had luck on his side today, winning the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix aboard Carrabis Z and taking home the Longines Leading Rider Award for the third time in 4 years.

Today’s Hampton Classic Grand Prix kicked off under sunny skies with a strong sea breeze that gave some horses an extra dose of adrenaline. The crowd certainly didn’t disappoint, both a packed grandstand and bustling VIP tent full of the pomp and circumstance we’ve come to expect at the Classic – the one horse show hosting more high heels than hooves.

Richie Moloney & Carrabis Z

Richie Moloney & Carrabis Z

Course designer Alan Wade set a tough but fair track today, with 14 obstacles and 17 jumping efforts. The Longines triple combination, an oxer-oxer-vertical sequence along the rail, was without question the problem element of the day. A few horses stopped at 7B, while 11 of the 29 starters pulled a rail at the same fence. But as Wade said after the class, “We had good sport…at the end of the day, the cream comes to the top.”

Last year’s winner Karen Polle, 5th in the order, was the first to go clear aboard her horse, With Wings, the duo seeking to defend their 2015 title. Another 9 riders would fail to tackle round 1 faultless until Beezie Madden made it a jump-off with Quister. Charlie Jacobs, Richie Moloney, and Andrew Welles joined the group of no faulters, making for a 5-way jump-off.

Charlie Jacobs & Cassinja S

Charlie Jacobs & Cassinja S

Polle and a very enthusiastic “Wings” put in a valiant effort, jumping clear in 41.54. She looked good to defend the title, but Madden had other ideas, also jumping clear and .21 seconds faster than Polle.

What began as a good jump off just got better, with all riders jumping clear and pressing the clock harder. Charlie Jacobs edged out Madden, also by .21 seconds, but Moloney galloped hard to a time of 39.57 seconds, getting lucky on the second to last where a hard rub had the top rail bouncing in the cups but never fell. Last up, Andrew Welles and Brindis Bogibo put in an impressive attempt but would finish third in 41.15.

Andrew Welles & Brindis Bogibo

Andrew Welles & Brindis Bogibo

“Everything showed up nicely,” said Moloney of his jump-off round, “I took a bit of a chance in the second to last fence and I rubbed it. I was a little lucky, but I guess it was our day.”

The day’s winner was quick to thank all those involved that it takes to be successful at this level. “It means a lot to win the Grand Prix here. My horse has been amazing, this is his fourth grand prix win. It’s very good to have him and I’m lucky to have my owners at Equinimity, and a great staff. I’m just thankful, without all of those people this wouldn’t be possible.”

Charlie Jacobs, 2nd place finisher, who has the task of balancing his career running the Boston Bruins with his competition schedule, also noted the importance of his team. “”I am blessed with a great support team whose hard work plays a key role in any success my horses and I achieve,” said Jacobs, “they deserve to be sitting up here every bit as much as I do.”

For those who watched him jump throughout the week, Andrew Welles and Brindis Bogibo certainly stood out as ones to watch. They completed a total of 7 rounds at the Classic this week, including jump-offs, and racked up 0 faults. “It’s unbelievable,” said Welles. “I am so fortunate to be able to ride this horse…this was a beautiful way to end an amazing week. To be third in this Grand Prix is just incredible.”

Welles and Brindis will compete in the American Gold Cup at Old Salem, which also serves as a World Cup qualifier. Do they have a run at the World Cup Final in mind? Absolutely. “That’s been the goal. The family that has been behind him, the Scudder family and AEM enterprises are from Nebraska, so to have the World Cup Finals there (in Omaha) is really special.”

Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza