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Aaron Vale races to victory in Saturday’s $74,000 Longines Cup at the 2022 Hampton Classic Horse Show

Sunday, 04 September 2022
CSI5* Hamton Classic Horse Show 2022

Photo © KindMedia. Aaron Vale and Elusive. Photo © KindMedia.

 

Press release from Hampton Classic Horse Show

 


 

Americans once again topped the leaderboard on Saturday at the Hampton Classic for the $74,000 LONGINES Cup, where Aaron Vale piloted Thinks Like A Horse’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Elusive (Rodrigoo x Capfucino) to one of only two double-clear rounds in 37.770 seconds to clinch the win. 

The Hampton Classic, August 28-September 4, is one of the world’s most prestigious horse shows, offering more than $1 million in prize money during a full schedule featuring competitors at every level from young children in leadline to Olympic, World, and World Cup Champions. The Classic also has competitions for riders with disabilities. 

Thirty-four horse-and-rider combinations representing nine countries tackled Alan Wade’s (IRL) winding 16-effort, 1.50m course. Only seven made it to the jump-off, where Katie Dinan (USA) had the fastest time of 37.270 seconds. Unfortunately, her mount Atika Des Hauts Vents (Rock'n Roll Semilly x Sherif d'Elle) knocked a rail toward the end of the shortened track, landing them behind Vale and second-place finisher Molly Ashe Cawley (USA).

Photo © KindMedia. Aaron Vale and Elusive won the $74,000 LONGINES Cup. Photo © KindMedia.

“When McLain (Ward) put in a good round but had the last fence down, I was looking for a target to run after, and it was almost like that target had been taken away,” Vale said of his predecessor in the jump-off. “It made me think twice about how fast I could try to go. Of course, I know Molly is very fast, and Katie’s little horse is just a rocket. I wanted to be fast enough where even if I had one down, I could leave the ring on top. I had a rub at the Jaguar fence, and luckily it stayed up. Then that time held up to win the class.”

Cawley immediately followed Vale’s round with a clear of her own aboard Louisburg Farm’s 11-year-old Zangersheide mare Berdien (Bustique x Querlybet Hero), but the pair was just 0.06 seconds shy of the time, tripping the timers in 37.830 seconds. 

“I was pretty sure I didn’t have it when I finished, so I didn’t really need to look at the clock,” Cawley said. “I’m always a tenth of a second slower than Aaron is, it seems, but today was my own fault. I had a different striding down the first line than everybody else, which cost me in the end. But my mare was amazing as always. I’m very proud of her, and it’s a hard-earned second place.”

Photo © KindMedia. Molly Ashe Cawley and Berdien were the second-place finishers in the $74,000 LONGINES Cup. Photo © KindMedia.

Like Cawley and her mount Berdien, Dinan and Grand Road Partners LLC’s 12-year-old Selle Français mare were just shy of catching Vale’s top spot, despite going all-out. 

“I was super happy with my mare Atika,” Dinan said. “We don’t have that much experience at this top level together. I’ve had her since she was seven, and this was our first year really jumping this type of class. I know how fast she is, so I just wanted to stay cool and not rush her too much. I took a shot into the double (combination) and unfortunately just had B down. After that, I thought I really had nothing to lose, and I really wanted to go as fast as I could. I’m proud of us for even having the winning time.”

All three riders had incredible footspeed over the course with their longtime partners. Vale originally bought Elusive for his wife as a 6-year-old, and this was Elusive’s first show back with the family after having wind surgery earlier this summer. 

“We’ve had him for over six years, so we know each other very well,” Vale said. “He’s also a smaller horse, but I’d go anywhere and try to jump any course with him. He’d try it all for me. We might not get clean, but he’s going to complete anything I ask him to do. He’s just a wonderful animal and now sounds a whole lot better going around out there.”

Photo © KindMedia. Katie Dinan and Atika Des Hauts Vents finished third in the $74,000 LONGINES Cup. Photo © KindMedia.

Cawley has had Berdien since the end of the mare’s 6-year-old year. “She really has been a steady superstar,” she said. “She tries every time out and gives 100 percent. She has to work for it a little bit, but she doesn’t mind. I think she likes to win as much as I do, and hopefully, she gets to stay with us forever.”

Looking forward to Sunday’s culminating $410,000 Hampton Classic 5* Grand Prix, Vale, Cawley and Dinan hope to return to the podium with refreshed mounts. Vale will return with Prescott, his second-place horse in Friday’s Grand Prix Qualifier; Cawley will compete with Cappuccino in his second Five Star and first true Five Star grand prix; and Dinan has her top horse, Nations Cup partner Brego R’N B, in perfect form. 

With this win, Vale has reclaimed the lead in the $30,000 LONGINES Rider Challenge with a total of 300 points. Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) remains in second with 226 points. Richie Moloney (IRL) maintains third with 225 points. The Challenge, which awards $30,000 and a LONGINES watch to the winner, will be awarded Sunday following the $410,000 Hampton Classic 5* Grand Prix.  



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