Bridgehampton, N.Y.—Sept. 3
Two riders in the three-horse jump-off for the $300,000 Hampton Classic CSI**** Grand Prix had something quite odd in common for grown adult riders—class winner Daniel Bluman and third-placed finisher McLain Ward are roommates!
Well, farm-mates to be exact.
“I give credit to McLain; I’ve been living in his cottage actually on his farm; it’s very lucky,” Bluman said with a grin. “That bed that he used to sleep in when he won everything he has won, it’s definitely giving me some super powers that I’ve been able to enjoy this week.”
Bluman has been living on Ward’s farm in Brewster, N.Y., for three weeks now, and it’s clear the two have developed a humorous rapport.
“He’s moved in, and I don’t think I’m going to get him out,” Ward joked.
Ward, Bluman and Brianne Goutal were the only three riders from the 31-horse start field to qualify for the jump-off. Bluman went latest in the order, and when he cleared the final fence the crowd went crazy congratulating his effort.
“I always give Daniel a hard time because he’s a little bit more of a celebrater than me after a clear round, and he was about to fist pump in the first round, and then he remembered he was living at my house,” Ward said. “So he put his hand back down, tucked his tie in, and it paid off!”
Goutal went first and had one rail down in the jump-off with Nice De Prissey to take second, and Ward ended up having two down over the short track with HH Callas. Bluman and Ladriano Z were the only double-clear effort.
“I knew [Daniel] wasn’t going to leave anything, and I knew I had to do a very good round to put enough pressure on him; I could tell he was in good form,” Ward said. “If I could do it again I would have done one more stride second to last. It was a little bit at the end of the mare’s stride, and that’s not the best way to be for her.
“It’s disappointing, but that’s this sport. I’m not a guy who’s going to leave anything on the table,” Ward continued. “I needed to try to put his back against the wall, and it just blew up a little bit on me.”
Ward tried to brush off any credit for Bluman’s performance, but Bluman was quick to set the record straight with a little story.
“McLain calls me every now and then, every other night, and we have a beer, as he calls it—one beer,” Bluman said with a laugh. “We have one beer, and I really am a slow drinker, so I really take my time and drink until McLain tells me, ‘OK, good bye, good night,’ and then I take half of my beer home because I’m not even done with my beer, but I get great pointers from McLain. As everyone knows one of the best riders in the world.”
Goutal’s second-placed finish capped off an emotional day for her—her horse Onira was retired center ring at the Hampton Classic prior to the start of the grand prix.
“I was really happy to be able to retire Onira on this stage because it was a great show for him all of his career, but also he’s really been in top form, so it was kind of bittersweet,” said Goutal.
“As for this grand prix, this is the third time I’ve been second,” she added with a grin. “I swore I wasn’t going to be second again, but here I am. But my horse was off for almost two years, and this is his first major grand prix back, so I’m thrilled with the result.”