“Ladriano Z is a veteran of the sport,” said Israeli show jumper Daniel Bluman of his 2022 FEI World Championship and 2023 FEI World Cup Finals partner.

The stellar 15-year-old gelding is also a Hampton Classic veteran, having won the Grand Prix in 2017 (Bluman won all three CSI4* classes that week). The Israeli rider brought the win back again with 12-year-old mare Gemma W in 2021. If there is one thing we know for sure about Bluman, it’s that he always returns for his titles, and Sunday was due time for the CSI5* Hampton Classic Grand Prix.

Though it wasn’t fixing to be an easy task. Fielding 40 combinations, from the jump the technical 1.60m Alan Wade (IRL) track eliminated the first 30 riders from jump-off contention.

Finally, Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) entered the ring with Faquitol-S. She tactfully negotiated the course, knowing not to take a single fence for granted.

“I think the course was pretty delicate everywhere. Alan is such a master at course building, and part of the reason is because every single fence comes into play out there. That’s a huge testament to his designs,” said Sternlicht.

Following Sternlitcht’s clear effort was Bluman, who admitted the competition only got more interesting for him as she posted the first clear.

“[Ladriano] has been around and felt amazing the other day in the qualifier. I actually like when the course goes with not too many clear rounds. Ladriano is a big horse and I had to take a lot of risks to try to win, so I was actually more motivated to see just Adrienne’s clear round before me,” said Bluman.

©Kind Media

In the jump off, Sternlicht opened the door for him, posting a quick 38.24 seconds but with four faults flashing across the board. Bluman measured that risk, keeping his eyes between Ladriano’s ears, and managed to come out clean in 37.17 seconds.

“Adrienne had a beautiful round, so I just focused on what I had to do. I had to ride a very fast track around the course in case I knocked one down so I could still finish in second. Ladriano is a very special horse, and it’s been rare in his entire career that he has more than one rail down. I was very confident and very grateful for this horse today,” said Bluman.

Ladriano is one of Bluman’s most consistent earners, collecting 21 podium finishes and €1,589,547 in prize money since 2016, this weekend’s share of the $425,000 purse not included, according to Jumpr App. In 81 rounds at 1.60m, he jumps into the top 10 50% of the time, which is to say he’s a safe bet.

Sternlicht’s second place finish it’s still a victory for the pair that only began campaigning at the 5* level in April. When they first partnered in 2022 she still had big dreams for the 13-year-old gelding despite his age. Those dreams evolved into achievable goals. This year he is undoubtedly Sternlicht’s top horse.

“He’s the only horse I have jumped to this level this year. I think he keeps getting better. For me, it’s so rewarding to see the horse improve, and it gives me more confidence in myself because I believed in him from the start. I was just thrilled for him and my team today,” said Sternlicht.

Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Faquitol-S  © KindMedia

Luiz Fernando Larrazabal (VEN) was ultimately named the fastest four fault finisher, landing in third with 11-year-old mare Condara with 79.70 seconds. Larrazabel was pleasantly surprised by the podium finish.

“It was my lucky day to have the fastest time with four faults. Normally, you don’t take a podium spot with a rail down. I’m very grateful to have that little bit of luck today, and I’m so happy with my mare. I knew she could do it from the first time I sat in the saddle,” said Larrazabel, who couldn’t blame the mare for getting a touch overzealous on course.

“She’s a special mare who always wants to jump. I committed to my plan early on, and even though she got a little excited toward the last fence, I’m very happy with her performance today.”

Luis Fernando Larrazabal (VEN) and Condara © KindMedia

Bluman is now part of the distinguished group of four riders to win the Hamptons Classic Grand Prix on three occasions. Time will tell, but at age 33 a fourth title is certainly within reach.