Darragh Kenny of Ireland galloped Picolo to the fastest jump-off time to claim the $40,000 Longines Cup, presented by the Crown Family, at the Hampton Classic. Seven of the nine riders who reached the jump-off by recording faultless first rounds repeated their efforts in the jump-off. Kenny, the final rider on course, stopped the timers in the fastest time 40.32 seconds. Ramiro Quintana of Argentina, riding Versus, stopped the clock a fraction slower: 41.73 seconds. Lillie Keenan, of New York City, finished in 42.53 seconds, on Balance.
Kenny accepted a Longines Conquest Sport Timepiece from Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines vice president, head of international marketing-after he'd put himself in an almost unbeatable position to win the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge. This winner-take-all award goes to the rider who earns the most points in the week's 10 open jumper classes. Kenny now leads with 283 points, ahead of 2013 winner Ritchie Moloney of Ireland (230) and Shane Sweetnam of Ireland (177.5). Keenan is fourth (142.5).
Kenny will miss Sunday's show climax, the $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix, presented by Land Rover, in which the points are doubled, but Moloney is the only rider close enough to topple Kenny from the top. Moloney would have to finish no worse than fourth (earning 60 points) to win the Longines prize. Even by earning 100 points for winning the class, no other rider can surpass Kenny's score.
"I'm especially glad I won this class, because I've always wanted a Longines watch," said Kenny.
Kenny will miss Sunday's class because he's due to catch a plane from New York to Paris on Saturday night, in order to ride on the Irish team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games next week.
"I'm very glad to be riding for Ireland in my first World Championship, but I didn't want to miss this show, because this is a very important show to me," said Kenny. "And I've been aiming for this class especially with Picolo, because he's been coming up to it perfectly. I thought all week that he was very capable of winning it if I could set him up right."
Setting him up for the Longines Cup included winning the $20,000 Hampton Classic Jumper Challenge on Tuesday. Kenny, who lives in Ocala, FL, said he watched both Quintana and Keenan ride their jump-off rounds. "I thought Ramiro was really fast, and then I watched Lillie, who's young and hungry, and when she didn't catch him I knew how fast it was," said Kenny.
Quintana went early in the order on Versus, and he said he knew his only hope was to set as fast a standard as he could. "I tried to leave all the jumps up and make all the others make a mistake, and it worked out until the end," he said with a smile.
Keenan, 17, said, "I just went for it" on Balance, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood who'd never jumped in as big a class as this. "I've been a part of his development all along, so it's an honor just to finish right behind these two," she said.
Capelli complimented the riders and the management of the Hampton Classic on the presentation of the Longines Cup. "I don't know how it could have been better than this," said Capelli in opening remarks at the press conference held in the Longines corporate chalet overlooking the Grand Prix Ring. "We have always been proud to be a part of the Hampton Classic, and today we know why."
The Classic's world-class field of Grand Prix riders competes daily in the Classic's open jumper division, which features an FEI-recognized Grand Prix on three consecutive days, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 29-31: the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by Longines, on Friday, the $40,000 Longines Cup on Saturday, and Sunday's $250,000 Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier, presented by Land Rover, a qualifying competition for the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas next April.
The rider who accumulates the most points in the horse show's Open Jumper division wins the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge.
Source: Press release from The Hampton Classic
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