International veteran Jeffery Welles of Pound Ridge, N.Y., ruled the Grand Prix Ring on Tuesday at the 37th Annual Hampton Classic. Welles won both the afternoon’s American Eurocopter $7,500 1.45m Open Jumper class and the fist section of the morning’s Newsday $7,500 1.40m Open Jumper class.
Welles, 50, won the more difficult afternoon class on Merlin in a time of 61.80 seconds, defeating Darragh Kerins on S&L Farms’ S&L Zeppelin (62.06) and Shane Sweetnam on Spy Coast Farm’s Cyklon 1083 (62.23), winner of Sunday’s $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge.
Welles won the morning class on Aries (54.28 seconds), defeating Kent Farrington on Mershad Stables’ Caprilli HSF (55.02) and Sweetnam on Spy Coast Farm’s Eregast Van’t Kiezelhof (55.32)
Welles is preparing Merlin for Sunday’s $250,000 FTI Grand Prix. Merlin, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood, won the 5-Year-old Young Jumper Championship in the Grand Prix Ring in 2007 and finished second the next year in the 6-year-old Young Jumper Championship. “He’s always liked this ring, so we’ll give it a shot on Sunday,” said Welles, a two-time winner of the Hampton Classic’s featured Grand Prix (in 192 and 1994).
The day began with a steady drizzle greeting riders in the $7,500 Newsday Open Jumper class. The soggy ground created by the overnight and morning rains caused show officials to split the 84-horse class in half so that, between classes, the jump crew could move the jumps to fresh ground in the Grand Prix Ring.
The raindrops didn’t deter Richie Maloney, who urged his horse Bailey aggressively around the course to post the fastest time (56.03 seconds) in the first class. His daring round just nipped two-time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward on Lucky Lord 20 (56.69) and Shane Sweetnam on Siboney Ranch’s Kalle (57.29).
The 37th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show runs through Sunday, Sept. 2, and features world-class show jumping competition, as well as magnificent shopping and a variety of entertainment attractions. The Classic features six show rings with more than 100 classes of competition for horses and riders of all ages. A wide range of jumper, hunter, equitation, short stirrup and leadline classes are all part of the Classic’s schedule, as well as competitions for riders with disabilities.
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