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McLain Ward Makes History Winning the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix
Bridgehampton, NY-August 30, 2009- McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, made history at the Hampton Classic Horse Show by winning the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier for a record fourth time on his two-time Olympic team gold medal horse, Sapphire, owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock. Previously, Ward was tied with Margie Engle and Rodney Jenkins with three victories each. Unlike Saturday, the weather for the FTI Grand Prix was beautiful. Expectations were high, but the first clean round did not come until the thirteenth rider, Judy Garofalo Torres of Dover Plains, NY, riding Higher Ground Farm’s Oliver. Torres had to wait a long time to see if anyone in the field of 33 could challenge her fault-free performance. One by one the best riders and horses in the country were beaten by the Conrad Homfeld designed course as rails continued to fall.

“I was kind of surprised,” said Torres of the lack of clean rounds. “My horse did so well. I did think there would be a few more clears. I was getting pretty excited at the end.”

The possibility of no jump-off was finally erased by the day’s last rider, McLain Ward, and his 14-year-old, Belgian warmblood mare. The audience collectively held its breath as Sapphire negotiated the fences without fault creating a battle of the sexes for the jump-off; Ward on his mare and Torres on her 19-year-old stallion.

Torres went first in the tiebreaker and rode conservatively leaving all the rails up, but in a beatable time of 56.88 seconds. Ward made it look easy rolling around the Grand Prix turf flawlessly posting a winning time of 50.81. Third place went to Darragh Kenny of Ireland and Obelix, owned by Trade Winds Farm, the fastest of the nine four-fault rounds.

“The course was quite difficult,” said Ward. “Over the last few years the standard of this horse show has gone up again. Shannette (Cohen) has taken the show to another level. On course, the water line was spooky and caused a lot of trouble and the last line was a little mushy which might be why a lot of rails went down, but the footing held up great.”

Since Ward was the last to go in the first round and there were only two in the jump-off, there was not too much time in between rounds, making it a little tough for Ward and Sapphire. “She was running out of gas at the end of the jump-off and so was I, but she knows the game and was able to get it done,” said Ward. “Either she keeps getting better or I have stopped getting in the way. Hopefully she stays healthy.”

This is the seventh win for Sapphire in 2009 (and the 118th career win for Ward), an amazing statistic for any horse, but especially for a 14-year-old mare. “This year we picked the FTI events, they have been very good to us,” joked Ward referring to his FTI victory in the $400,000 Grand Prix in Wellington in March.

Ward’s win, coming in the heels of his triumph in Friday’s $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Grand Prix Qualifier, made him just the third rider, following Joe Fargis in 2005 and Hillary Dobbs in 2008, to sweep the Hampton Classic’s two lead events. For good measure, Ward also won the $30,000 Fendi Cup on Goldika on the day in between, giving him Grand Prix wins on three consecutive days.

Even though Torres did not make it to the winner’s circle, she was not too disappointed
“I have had him for ten years,” said Torres referring to her 19-year-old. “I wanted this class to be the class of the year, the main event for him. Coming in second to McLain is very, very exciting. I’ll take it.”

Those unable to attend the Hampton Classic have ample opportunity to see it on television. WVVH-TV, the official Long Island television station of the Hampton Classic, has its broadcasts available online at www.wvvh.tv.

Full results and further information on the Hampton Classic are available at www.hamptonclassic.com.

(c) WVVH-TV 2009 all rights reserved

Comments

12 Responses to FTI Grand Prix Hampton Classic Horse Show Jump-Off

  1. Anonymous says:

    these horses are on performance enhancing drugs.

  2. Anonymous says:

    whoah jum[s are huge lol awesome i want to jump thoose now i would if i had the right horse

  3. Anonymous says:

    this is my cousins trainer<3 LOVE YOU JUDY

  4. Anonymous says:

    wooow that beautiful how the horses jumping 😀 i think…

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s a hard half Hault I use it in my jumpers.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is it just me, or is McLain pulling on his horses mouth too much? Maybe the horse is just not listening so before every jump McLain has to pull it back, Im not sure.

  7. Anonymous says:

    jesus, 46 minutes long. thats a hell of a long video

  8. Anonymous says:

    Do u guys have coverage of the rest of 2009

  9. Anonymous says:

    really ? wow.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “Oliver” is the name of Judy Garofalo Torres’ 18 year old horse. Judy Garofalo Torres and “Oliver” placed 2nd at the FTI Grand Prix Hampton Classic Horse Show 2009.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Who is Oliver?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I looked after Oliver when he was 5 years old.