Friday, May. 24, 2024

Shuford Steals The Show At The Hampton Classic

The only double-clean performance of the day brings Eliza Shuford her biggest win yet.

It’s been a rough year for Larentino and Eliza Shuford.
   
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The only double-clean performance of the day brings Eliza Shuford her biggest win yet.

It’s been a rough year for Larentino and Eliza Shuford.
   
The 12-year-old Holsteiner rung in the New Year by injuring a suspensory, sidelining him through the Florida circuit. After a prolonged recovery, Larentino traveled to Europe to partner with Shuford during the Developing Riders tour this summer. He helped the U.S. team win the Nations Cup in Hamina, Finland, on June 16, but then the stallion colicked en route to Norway, curtailing his European jaunt.

But his luck turned around at the Hampton Classic, Aug. 26-Sept. 2, when Larentino and Shuford beat out an impressive field of seasoned competitors to claim the top spot in the $150,000 FTI Grand Prix.

The victory in Bridgehampton, N.Y., marks the biggest win to date for Shuford, 28, from Hickory, N.C. She posted the first of three clear rounds over a challenging course that caused two falls among the 30 starters.

Shuford and Larentino started off the jump-off with a ground-eating gallop. The spunky bay stallion left all the jumps up, setting the pace at a quick 46.81 seconds. “The jump-off was perfect for my horse,” said Shuford. “Jump, gallop, jump, gallop. I really trusted him to go as fast as I could.”

Peter Wylde and Campino ticked a rail at the first fence of the jump-off, knocking them out of blue-ribbon contention, and Wylde let Campino finish the jump-off at a modest clip. “This was the first jump-off I’ve done with this horse—he’s new to me,” explained Wylde. “I started with quite a good gallop then I changed my mind, which was a big mistake. Hopefully in the future I can trust him to keep going forward, but the mistake was completely mine.”

The final jump-off team, Beezie Madden and Select, pulled a rail as well, but Madden kept up the speed to take second.

Madden was thrilled to finish as the runner-up. She has been taking things slow with the 9-year-old former dressage horse, owned by Elizabeth Busch Burke and John Madden Sales, and this was his biggest class yet.

“I’ve had him a year and a half, but Friday [the $50,000 Grey Goose Vodka CSI-W] was his first 1.60-meter class,” she said. “I’ve been bringing him along in some smaller classes, and he had some good results in Europe. He’s a little delicate still in his brain, but I’m happy with how he came through today.”

Select just missed victory in the $50,000 Grey Goose Vodka CSI-W also, placing third. Riders flocked to the Hampton Classic to vie for a shot at the first East Coast World Cup-qualifying competition of the season. But it was the sole Canadian, Mario Deslauriers, who beat out the field on Friday.

The Bromont, Que., native carefully negotiated the delicate uphill vertical and torturous triple combination that fell for so many riders. “When I walked the course I knew it was tricky,” he said. “I thought there might be seven clear, but it was more difficult than that.”

Madden and Select set the pace in the jump-off, leaving the rails up and stopping the clock at 44.20 seconds.

Brianne Goutal returned to jump off with both of her horses. She and the seasoned Onira blazed through the course fault-free in 39.78 seconds. The greener Ralvesther looked sharp and poised as Goutal sliced the turns, but she pulled a rail off a vertical mid-trip, leaving the pair with 4 faults.

Deslauriers and his bounding chestnut turned on the speed and managed to shave a half-second off Goutal’s time to clinch the win and the precious World Cup points.

“My horse is a good solider,” said Deslauriers of the Belgian Warmblood. “He’s straightforward, scopey and careful—he really has the whole package. Plus, he has experience, and I think that’s what you needed today.”

Rising To The Occasion

As Tracey Weinberg stood at the in-gate the morning of the $25,000 Calvin Klein Jumping Derby, her heart skipped a beat.

“When I looked at the course chart, before they even set the course, I thought ‘if there are two clear, we’ll be lucky,’ ” said Weinberg. “Even on paper it looked very difficult.”

But at the end of the day Weinberg and Linda Z bested 30 junior and amateur-owner competitors to take the top check back to Lovettsville, Va.

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Not one competitor managed to get through the round fault-free, and several riders suffered involuntary dismounts. Course designer Conrad Holmfeld set the riders to work immediately, with a tricky angled
jump heading into the grandstands to start and the wide water obstacle heading away from the in-gate just two fences later.

Weinberg was the first of three riders to log four-fault scores and return to jump off. She and Linda Z put in a conservative—but clean—round. Miranda Fischer turned on the speed halfway through the course with her gutsy Hot Wheels, and the pair looked sure to win until a single block fell off the final wall. Andrew Welles dropped from blue ribbon contention when a rail fell from the first fence in the jump-off, but he and Cadanio Z sliced the turns to stop the clock a fraction faster than Fischer and earn second.

“Before I went in the ring my trainer Joe [Fargis] turned to me and said ‘Don’t go crazy, just ride for the clean round,’ ” recalled Weinberg. “As usual, Joe was right!”

Weinberg’s 10-year-old mare stands at just 15 hands, but nothing intimidates her. Since Weinberg imported the Holsteiner from Italy last year the pair have moved up from the low amateur-owners all the way up to their first grand prix at the $50,000 Beacon Hill Grand Prix (N.J.) in June, where they finished ninth. 

Consistency When It Counts

Scott Stewart had a picture-perfect show at the Hampton Classic, taking home leading hunter rider honors after a week of outstanding performances in the professional divisions. He rode horses to the top of the regular working, first year green, and green conformation divisions.

Stewart’s top horse in the regular working division, Truly, has spent much of the season in the junior hunter ring with owner Alex Stathis. But when Stathis trotted off to college this fall, she asked Stewart to take over the reins. The flashy Dutch Warmblood by Voltaire stepped right up to the plate, earning his third championship in so many shows at four-foot.

“He’s amazingly consistent,” said Stewart. “He has the same fantastic attitude no matter where you go.”
Stewart guided Molly Ohrstrom’s Ovation to the top of the first year green division and took reserve honors aboard his horse Caligo. The 7-year-old Ovation’s spectacular jump has been turning heads all season, topping the first year division at Upperville (Va.) and Devon (Pa.) and capturing the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit championship (Fla.).

In the green conformation division, Stewart rode Krista and Alexa Weisman’s West Point to the championship and picked up the reserve ribbon aboard his gelding Trousseau.

West Point has been one of Stewart’s top mounts since he brought the striking brown horse over from Europe. “We found him in Bavaria and he’s just beautiful,” said Stewart. “He’s built very correct, with a very scopey jump.” Stewart was so impressed with West Point that he bought several of his brothers as hunter prospects.

The only professional championship that slipped through Stewart’s fingers was the second year green tricolor, which went to Lee Kellogg’s Sterling and Jennifer Bauersachs.

Local Flavor

Amateur-owner riders traveled far and wide to show at the Hampton Classic.  But at the end of the week it was the horse who shipped in from 4 miles up the road who finished in the top spot.

Bridgehampton native Stephanie Riggio wowed the enthusiastic local crowd as she guided Indian Summer to the grand amateur-owner and amateur-owner, 18-35, championships.

This was the best year yet for the 23-year-old, who hasn’t missed a Classic since she was 8.

“He is a dream and a half to ride,” said Riggio, of Indian Summer. “He’s very generous and he gives so much effort over every fence. It feels like you’re in the air for 10 minutes over every jump.”

Riggio started riding the chestnut gelding last October, but the two didn’t click immediately. “All through Florida I’d either win or get nothing,” she recalled. “I said to my trainer, I just want to get fourth some time!”

Things finally started to gel in May when the pair earned the grand amateur championship in Old Salem (N.Y.). The pair had a repeat performance in Lake Placid (N.Y.) and took home a tricolor from the Kentucky Classic.

Riggio counts on her trainer, Karen Caristo, and barn manager Denise Maynard to keep her on her toes. “Denise can be tough on me—in a good way,” said Riggio. “It’s perfect because Karen is so sweet.” 

Riggio’s been enjoying a year focusing on her riding after graduating from Columbia University (N.Y.) last May. She plans to return to graduate school to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing, but for now
she’s looking forward to showing at the fall indoor circuit.

The Talent Pool Deepens

Five young riders who made a big splash at the Hampton Classic spent the first half of the summer sharpening their skills during the USEF Developing Riders Tour.

Eliza Shuford, Brianne Goutal, Katherine Miracle, Georgina Bloomberg and Sarah Sturges spent six weeks
touring Europe in June and July contesting Nations Cups under the guidance of chef d’equipe Melanie Smith Taylor.

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The tour, funded by the USET Foundation, was created in an effort to give young rising show jumping stars a taste of international team competition.

The riders won the Nations Cups at the CSIO**** in Hamina, Finland, and at the CSIO***** in Falsterbo, Sweden, and returned to the United States profoundly inspired by their experience.

“The developing riders tour really paved the way for this week,” said Shuford. “It’s a wonderful experience being part of a team, and it adds extra pressure for you to ride up to that level. You learn how to perform better and better.”

The performance of the riders at the Hampton Classic testifies to the success of the Developing Riders tour. Four of the riders had top 10 finishes in grand prix classes over the week, including Shuford’s win in the $150,000 FTI Grand Prix.

Shuford cited the opportunity to work with Taylor as profoundly influential to her career. “She’s so knowledgeable and super positive,” raved Shuford. “When there’s that much pressure it’s great encouragement to have someone upbeat. Just before I went in the ring on Larentino she sent me a text that said ‘Ride him strong, don’t give up!’ ”

Molly Bailey


It’s Wylde Again

He’s back. And when Peter Wylde shows up on American soil with horses, he means business.

Hampton Classic fans hadn’t seen Wylde since 2000, when he moved to Europe to compete there. But he announced his return to his native shores with an impressive third place in the $150,000 FTI Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic aboard Campino.

Wylde is now based in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and has established himself on the European show jumping tour. He returned to the United States in 2002 and 2004 with the wonderful mare Fein Cera to contest the World Equestrian Games and Olympic selections trials, making the team each time. He and Fein Cera jumped to the individual bronze medal at the 2002 WEG in Jerez, Spain, and the team gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics. And now, Wylde has the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong in his sights.

Wylde named “a few different reasons” for his return, he said. “Number 1 is the World Cup tour—I’d really like to qualify for the 2008 World Cup Finals, and I have two new horses, both of which look like they could be horses for the World Cup Final. “Number 2 is that I’d like to try and qualify for the Olympics next year, so I felt that—since I wasn’t in the position of having Fein Cera—I wanted to have [U.S. chef d’equipe George Morris] get to know my new horses.

“The final reason is that I have three very good owners who are American, and I would like to have them able to see their horses more. It was a combination of all those reasons together that made it logical for me to come back.”

Wylde brought four horses and plans to show all fall, ending his tour at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament (N.Y.) in early November. He’s shuttling back and forth to Europe, where he still has 11 horses to train and show. “These horses and I will go back to Europe to show in November and December, and then I’m fairly certain that I’ll have a presence in Florida—to what extent, I’m not sure, but I’ll be showing there,” Wylde said.

So, who are these horses that brought Wylde back? First, there’s Campino, an 11-year-old Holsteiner by Corofino. “He’s actually mine, which is even more exciting,” Wylde said. “When I bought him [in the spring], he’d done some bigger classes but didn’t have huge success. I had the chance to buy him, and he turned out to be a much better horse than I expected. He’s really doing some incredible things, which is very exciting. [The $150,000 FTI Grand Prix] was only the third grand prix I’ve shown him in. I started showing him in May, and I’ve been trying to go slowly and get to know him a bit, and it keeps getting better and better. This was for sure the biggest class I’ve ridden him in, but he jumped it beautifully.”

And then there’s Esplanade, a 9-year-old mare owned by Louisburg Farm. She and Wylde placed 10th in the $25,000 Sotheby’s International Realty Challenge. “She’s an amazing horse. She’s got incredible quality, and she’s an unbelievable jumper,” said Wylde. “She’s a little bit greener than Campino—when I got her, she’d only been doing the 1.40-meter classes. She needs some experience, but I’ve jumped her in five or six grand prix classes, and she’s placed in every one. I want to bring her along slowly.”

Wylde followed up his Hampton Classic reappearance with a trip to his home stomping grounds—the Fidelity Jumper Classic in Massachusetts. He then planned to fly back to Europe to compete Fein Cera in a small national show—her first since a successful embryo transfer.

Fein Cera was bred to Ustinov, a 6-year-old stallion by Libero and out of a Nimmerdor mare. “He’s spectacular, and he’s probably going to be a famous horse when he grows up. We’re really excited to have bred Fein Cera to him,” Wylde said.

The embryo was successfully transferred to a surrogate mare. And now Fein Cera, 16, is back in action. “She’s amazing—she feels as good as ever. Right before I came here, we schooled her and she jumped absolutely perfectly.”   

Molly Sorge

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