Saugerties, N.Y.- Sept. 8
Riders and spectators could be forgiven for stopping and staring as Jimmy Torano cantered Kathryn Haefner’s La Bonita around the grand prix ring in the final round of the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix.
With her knees to her eyeballs and a soft, quiet step, the warmblood mare by Lupicor earned top scores in the third round and a trip to the final four where she picked up the top check.
Incredibly, it was only La Bonita’s second show since being imported in June. “What she did today, in my opinion, is unheard of,” Torano said. “She’s 5 years old, and I think what she proved this week is unbelievable. To walk into the derby ring the other day and walk into this grand prix field today—she’s not spooky, she’s a freak of a jumper, she’s a beautiful mover, she’s a beautiful mare. For the little bit that I’ve ridden her, I can tell that she just doesn’t want to let you down.”
Torano spends most of his time in the jumper ring, and in fact rode Blue Sky van de Olmenhoeve in the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix later in the day, but he’s ridden and sold his fair share of hunters. “I always like doing the hunters,” he said. “It’s like doing anything, a good horse is a good horse.”
Torano had plenty of nice horses to choose from for the hunter prix, but he admitted that while La Bonita was a nice horse, it was a bit of a gamble taking one so green. But when the wind picked up, blowing over fences in the expansive grand prix ring, it was La Bonita’s rider who was affected most.
“I think [the atmosphere] affected me!” Torano joked. “For all of us, jumping for $500,000 is unbelievable. To go in a class with this much money, these caliber horses, and these caliber riders; it’s nerve-wracking. Your heart’s pounding. Now you want to get back to the top 25, now you want to get back to the top four. I think the grand prix will be easier!”
Hope Glynn of Penngrove, Calif. finished in second place with her Round 2 winner, Emma Waldfogel’s King’s Peak.
“It’s nice to come home with a big check for multiple reasons, but it’s also nice to come home and say he jumped consistently over the days here well,” she said. “I was really proud of him and yes, I was so nervous!”
In the $250,000 HITS Hunter Prix, amateur rider Louise Otten rode Annie Phillips’ Revelstoke to the top check.
“I knew I could be no less than fourth, so I knew I could be relaxed, but finding the jumps out there was a little stressful! There’s a lot going on out there,” she said of her two rounds.
Otten, 66 of Wayzata, Minn., showed the Hanoverian gelding, a former 1.30-meter jumper, in Florida over the winter for Phillips when she was injured, and now that Phillips is close to her due date with her first child, Otten picked up the ride again a week ago.
Otten doesn’t show very regularly because her granddaughter has been showing her horse, but she keeps fit riding him at home.
She was given a wild card invitation to compete in the hunter prix. “I was thrilled to come do it, because I haven’t been showing much,” she said. “I felt sort of semi-retired, so this is a huge thing for me to go in and win this class.”
For complete results, check out the HITS website.
For more action from HITS-On-The-Hudson, visit the hubpage.