SAUGERTIES, N.Y.--Israeli Olympian Daniel Bluman won the $300,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI4* at HITS on Sunday, Sept. 10, just edging out McLain Ward in a six horse jump-off.
A field of 42 in HITS biggest event of the year at Saugerties was narrowed to six for the jump-off, with clear rounds from each of the final three riders.
Bluman was the last to go and used that to his advantage, beating Ward on Contagious by less than 2/10ths of a second.
The youngest rider in the class, 17-year-old Zayna Rizvi, produced the first jump-off clear on Exquise Du Pachis to finish third.
“Gemma W and I have been together since she was 5 years old and she's 12 now, so we've been together seven years,” said Bluman. “She's won multiple classes in her career. She's a very fast horse, a real trier, with lots of quality. She really has a great personality too, we love her very much at the barn. We've grown together in these last seven years, and she's a very reliable horse when you put her in the right classes.”
“WHEN YOU look at the results and who made it to the jump-off, I really enjoyed seeing a mix between seasoned riders and up-and-coming riders,” said course designer Oscar Soberon. “That shows that it was rideable. There were poles everywhere, which I think was good. It's a special 4* because it's a $300,000 class and it is the last class of the season here. I'm pleased with the result.”
Rizvi on Exquise Du Pachis was the fourth to go in the jump-off and the first to go clean, finishing in 41.27 seconds
But with two Olympians hot on her heels, she knew the door was still open.
Ward was next to go, making up time in the turns while wasting no time in the air, and he finished clean in 40.16 seconds to take over the lead.
“I knew Daniel was behind me and he's beaten me with his horse a couple of times,” said Ward. “I know it's a very fast horse and I knew Daniel was going to be a very ambitious to win, so I really didn't have any option but to try to lay down a very good round. I felt like if I had a fast 4 faults, I was going to be up near the top of the results either way. My horse ran a little bit to the right on the left lead, and so when I jumped the second to last, he leaked out a little and I didn't pick up on the first distance. I knew I had left a little room there that if he was on it could nip me.”
Bluman was the last to go, just barely edging out Ward as he left out a stride to the final vertical, finishing clean in 40.02 seconds to win.
“My plan going into the jump-off was to use my horse's strengths to try to catch McLain's time,” said Bluman. “I knew exactly what I had to do. It was a course that was well suited for her and I think she was flowing beautifully around the track and it worked out.”
“She has scope that is based on the amount of canter you produce," said Bluman. "I think you need a little bit of speed to help her with the scope. She's very, very careful, has a lot of quality and is very competitive.”