It was the calm before the storm at today’s Hampton Classic, with sunny skies and the first Grand Prix of the week ushering in Labor Day weekend as both the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix and tropical storm Hermine loom on the horizon.
Today’s $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix, which serves as a qualifier for Sunday’s main event, proved to be no easy task as just 8 of 53 starters jumped clear and into the jump-off. The course consisted of 13 obstacles and 15 efforts with a tight time allowed of 84 seconds that proved troublesome over the large grass track. More than 20 riders collected time penalties, and 3 would have been clear and into the jump-off if it weren’t for clocking in just over 84 seconds.
The bogey fence was, without question, fence 12. Nearly a third of the class had the seemingly benign blue and yellow vertical – the second element of the course’s final line – down, breaking a few hearts as they saw the finish line looming.
The jump-off had an exciting combination of Olympic veterans and amateur riders, with 17 year-old Lucy Deslauriers, 2nd to jump-off, riding an impressive clear in 40.75 seconds aboard Hester, her mother Lisa’s 11 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
Lucy was sitting pretty as the rails tumbled in the jump-off; pesky fence 12 was back but jumped in reverse this time and still caused problems.
Andrew Welles and Brindis Bogibo jumped 5th in the order and were clear but comparatively slow, clocking in at 47.67 seconds.
It came as no surprise when McLain Ward, silver medalist in Rio and no stranger to Hampton Classic wins, jetted in aboard HH Carlos Z. The pair flew around the turf, leaving chunks of grass in their wake as Ward cut corners and angled fences wherever possible. Their efforts were rewarded with a winning time of 39.31 seconds.
Deslauriers was thrilled with her second place finish, “”It was a really great class and I am almost shocked at the results,” said Deslauriers. “My horse is incredible and I didn’t have much to lose going against these top riders. I just gave it my all and hoped it would be enough. Losing to McLain is not a very bad thing.”
Ward sees Deslauriers as one to watch and made that clear after his win. “Lucy is a great young rider with a very exciting future. I’m excited for her to be on some teams with me in the future, so my hat’s off to her,” said Ward. “I have a seasoned horse and he’s very good at the speed part. Normally, if he’s in the jump-off, we have a very good chance to win. He just has great foot speed.”
Ten of today’s riders were also part of “Jump for Charity,” a contest sponsored by Noelle Floyd and the Hampton Classic. Ward was part of this competition, jumping on behalf of Caring Hearts for Canines who will receive at least $15,000 thanks to his win.
Check back tomorrow for more updates from the Hampton Classic!
*Quotes from Hampton Classic press release
Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza