What do you get when you mix an impending hurricane, the East Coast’s equestrian event of the season, and a field of 29 acclaimed international riders (including two Rio Olympic medalists)? The answer is simple: one hell of a Grand Prix.
Despite the Weather Channel’s warnings of impending doom, Sunday afternoon brought clear skies, a light breeze, and plenty of sunshine. Instead of slickers and rain boots, VIP guests sported sunglasses and ostrich feather hats, sipping rosé as they looked out upon designer Alan Wade’s highly technical course.
Charlie Jacobs and his 10-year-old Holsteiner mare, Cassinja S, finished in second place. Watch Charlie break down the course for us:
The Longines triple proved to be a sticking point for a significant portion of the field, and at the end of round one, only five would return for the nail-biter of a jump-off. The first to go was the defending champion, Karen Polle (JPN) on With Wings, laying down another clean round with a time to beat of 41.54 seconds. Four-time Olympic medalist Beezie Madden (USA) was next on Quister de Guldenboom, finishing two-tenths of a second faster to take the lead with 41.33. Next up: Boston’s Charlie Jacobs (USA) and Cassinja S, who shaved off yet another two-tenths of a second to move into first place with 41.12. Richie Moloney (IRL) and Carribis Z managed to find an even shorter track, finishing a decisive two seconds faster than Jacobs with a time of 39.57 seconds and just Andrew Welles (USA) and Brindis Bogibo left to go. Welles stopped the timers at 41.15, only three one-hundredths of a second slower than Jacobs, claiming third place; Jacobs took second, and Moloney the grand prize.
“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,” Moloney said.
“Everything showed up nicely,” he continued. “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.”
It was indeed. In addition to his share of the $300,000 Grand Prix purse and some spiffy Longines hardware to add to his collection, Moloney received 100 points toward the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge, moving him into first place with a final total of 337.5—98 points ahead of Catherine Tyree, who finished second with 239.5. McLain Ward finished third with 226 points.
This is the third time in four years that Moloney has been named the Hampton Classic’s leading open jumper rider.