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Ward Wins $150,000 Prudential Financial Grand Prix for Record-Tying Third Time to Highlight 28th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show

BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY — September 3, 2003 — McLain Ward of Brewster, NY became only the third rider in history to win the $150,000 Prudential Financial Grand Prix three times when he rode Hurricane to victory on the closing day of the 28th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show.

Ward’s victory, tying the three wins turned in by Rodney Jenkins and Margie Goldstein Engle, came on Sunday, August 31 following a week of world-class show jumping competition surrounded by the beauty and mystique of the Hamptons.

From August 24-31, the sport’s biggest names gathered in Bridgehampton, NY for one of the world’s premier show jumping competitions. Ward could not have been prouder after receiving his award from former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. “This was a big deal for me. It was a big course, as big as I’ve seen it here,” Ward said.

Out of a starting field of 29 horse-and-rider combinations, only five pairs jumped clear over Olympian Conrad Homfeld’s first-round course to qualify to ride in the jump-off. Going first in the jump-off, Ward was the only rider to leave all eight fences in place. With all the rails still remaining in the cups, Ward crossed through the timers in 41.48 seconds to finish on top. “I went as fast as I could push my horse to go. I don’t think I could have gone much faster,” he explained.

Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL piloted Viktor, owned by Mr. Harry Gill, to a second place finish. The fastest of the four-fault rounds, Minikus crossed through the timers in a time of 40.10 seconds. Viktor is a former mount of Ward’s and Ward knew the horse’s strengths and was slightly worried to have his “old buddy” going in the ring behind him. “I know how fast that horse is, and how fast Todd is, so I was a little worried, but I was happy to see them do so well,” Ward said.

Also on Sunday, amateur show jumping talent was showcased with the $25,000 Calvin Klein Show Jumping Derby, open to Junior riders under age 18 and to Amateur-Owner riders. Cody Baird of Greenwich, CT, was the big winner in the class, which is a member event of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series. Baird was presented with a check for $7,500 in prize money for her performance aboard Orlandia, owned by October Farm. Michael Morrissey of Bradenton, FL, finished second aboard Gera 28, owned by Gene Mische.

McLain Ward also posted a win earlier in the weekend, wining the $25,000 Sally Hansen Grand Prix for the second year in a row. Out of the 47 entries, 10 horse-and-rider combinations jumped clear in the first round to move on to the jump-off. Aboard the nine-year-old, bay, mare, Labelle, owned by Sarah Willeman and Turnabout Farm, Ward stopped the clock in the jump-off round with a blistering fast time of 35.20 seconds.

Sydney Olympian Laura Kraut was the only other entry to come close to Ward’s winning time, posting a score of 35.29 seconds to finish second aboard Quick Star 2Z, a nine-year-old mare owned by Pasmore Stables.

For the fifth year, the Hampton Classic Horse Show hosted the Young Jumper Championships, Eastern League Finals, showcasing the nation’s top developing show jumping horses. In the $30,000 Six-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship, After Dark and Patricia Griffith of White Plains, NY proved to be unbeatable. Following three rounds of jumping held over three days, After Dark, a Dutch Warmblood by Darco, finished up with three clear rounds to take the top prize of $8,400.

In the $20,000 Five-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship, Aaron Vale of Aiken, SC, rode Shibumi, an Oldenburg by Stalon, to the top of the standings for owner Market Street. Vale took over the ride for two-time Olympic silver medalist Anne Kursinski of Frenchtown, NJ, who fractured her hand earlier in the week. Following three rounds of competition held over three days, Shibumi and Vale were the only pair to emerge without any penalties.

Leigh Healey of Lumberton, NJ, rode to the top of the $10,000 CK Equitation Championship. The competition was held over two rounds, over two days, over two separate courses in the grass Grand Prix Ring. The top ten riders from Round 1 advanced to the Final round where they carried forward their scores and competed in reverse order of standing. Healey, in sixth position going into Round II rode the 13-year-old bay gelding, Starlight, to top the ten-horse field.

“Starlight is owned by my older sister, Mary Alexis, but she’s in college now so he’s mine to ride,” explained Healey, 17, who began riding Starlight in February. “I also ride him in the low junior jumper division. He’s a very brave and honest horse. Even if he gets nervous, he’ll never cheat you out.”

Brianne Goutal of New York, NY finished second. Both Healey and Goutal, 14, train with Frank and Stacia Madden of Beacon Hill Show Stables on Colts Neck, NJ.

Ealier in the week, 1992 Olympic Individual Bronze Medalist, Norman Dello Joio of Wellington, FL, captured the win in the $30,000 Adequan Fiesta Day Grand Prix aboard Glasgow, a 14-year-old chestnut Dutch Warmblood gelding by Emilion. In the eleven horse jump-off, the times kept getting quicker and quicker. The second-to-last rider in the ring, Dello Joio was the fastest of them all, clocking in at 35.46 seconds.

“My plan was to just go easy and save my horse for Sunday, but he felt so good over the first fence, I just let him go for it,” said Dello Joio, 47. “He loves the big turf course.”

Jeffrey Welles of Pound Ridge, NY, aboard Equinox, owned by Elizabeth Saunders, won the first-ever $20,000 David Yurman Time Challenge, a new Open Jumper Speed class held on Manhattan Mortgage Company’s Opening Day, presented by Distinction Magazine. Twenty-four horse-rider combinations contested the competition where speed was the name of the game. Welles had a clear round in the fastest time, 67.60 seconds, to earn the blue ribbon.

“It was really nice to have a fun class without a lot of pressure to ride in,” said Welles. “The jumps weren’t that big, so you had to take a chance by going fast if you wanted to win.” As the winner, Welles received $6,000 in prize money as well as a David Yurman Thoroughbred Timepiece, presented by David and Sybil Yurman, long-time residents of the Hamptons.

Peter Leone of Greenwich, CT rode Kiana to a second place finish posting a time of 68.40 seconds. Callan Solem of Colts Neck, NJ, placed third in a time of 71.12 seconds riding Warsaw for Quiet Winter Farm.

In a unique competition, the $1,000 Groom’s Class offered fun and recognition for the hard-working individuals who care for the horses outside the ring. Cheered on by employers and friends, grooms were judged in two phases, first on the presentation of their horses and knowledge of their care, then a ridden phase where the grooms mounted their horses and were judge at the walk, trot and canter and were then invited to jump one fence in order to earn extra points. Following a lengthy discussion by the judges, Memo Gonzalez, a native of Mexico, emerged the winner one day shy of his 22nd birthday.

Gonzalez works for renowned trainer, Missy Clark of North Run in Warren, VT. “ I can’t say enough great things about Memo,” said Clark. “He is a super caretaker and he genuinely loves the horses. I hope he’s with us forever!”

The Hampton Classic Horse Show began on Sunday, August 24, with Manhattan Mortgage Company’s Opening Day presented by Distinction Magazine. Opening Day celebrates Long Island equestrian culture and offers spectators an opportunity to witness local area riders competing in six show rings at the Classic’s sixty-acre show site. Other special days at the Hampton Classic included Seniors Day, presented by 50 Plus Senior News, Fiesta Day presented by Hoy, and Cablevision Kids Day.

The 2004 Hampton Classic will be held Sunday, August 29 through Sunday, September 5 (Labor Day Weekend) at the beautiful, 70-acre show site in Bridgehampton, Long Island, New York.


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