Jimmy wins but our Sharn second!

Jimmy Torano and Day Dream win the US Open Grand Prix (Image: ©Rolex/Cara Grimshaw)
Jimmy Torano and Day Dream win the US Open Grand Prix (Image: ©Rolex/Cara Grimshaw)

Capacity crowds filled the Wollman Rink stands in New York’s Central Park to watch 34 riders from 11 nations tackle a challenging track set by Rio Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge. Surrounded by the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the venue is rightly considered by spectators and riders as one of the most magnificent in the world, and the stage was set for an exciting night.

It was only after 11 rounds that the crowd were rewarded with a clear, and only 10 riders made it through to the jump-off, including US team silver medal winners from Rio, Kent Farrington (Creedance) and McLain Ward (HH Carlos Z).

Kent Farrington riding Creedance (Image: ©Rolex/Cara Grimshaw)
Kent Farrington riding Creedance (Image: ©Rolex/Cara Grimshaw)

A tense crowd cheered on all 10 challengers but only two riders – New Zealander Sharn Wordley and USA’s Jimmy Torano – could manage a second clear. Fourth to go, Jimmy set a good time of 37.05. Connor Swail, who had an unlucky rail, was faster still (a blistering 33.12) with four faults, and Sharn wisely opted for a clear but safe round.

You can watch the jump off comparison between Jimmy and Sharn on this link.

Shawn Wordley (NZL) riding Barnetta was second in the Rolex US Open Grand Prix at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, September 23rd 2016 (Image: Rolex/Cara Grimshaw)
Sharn Wordley and Barnetta, second in the Rolex US Open Grand Prix at Central Park (Image: Rolex/Cara Grimshaw)

Sharn and Barnetta were runners-up in this class last year, too. They obviously enjoy the event! Talking to Chronicle of the Horse, Sharn said:

“I’m not happy. I’m ecstatic! Barnetta is very consistent—he’s not the fastest, but he does clear rounds. My strategy was to go clear and then hope everyone else had a rail down. With 10 in the jump-off, I wasn’t sure that plan would work, but [our time] held up.”

After his victory on the eight-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding Day Dream (Zento x Heartbreaker), a delighted Jimmy Torano commented, “He’s a very brave horse so I wasn’t worried about the bright lights or the electric atmosphere. Obviously, I didn’t think he was going to win the class as he’s young and there are some top combinations here.

“I really can’t say enough about this event. What’s better than riding in New York City with the incredible skyline like this? The crowd was unbelievable, it’s as good as it gets.”

Jimmy owns Day Dream with his wife, and, as a late entry to the class, believes that the win was “just meant to be.”

Conor Swail (IRL) riding Cita was third in the Rolex US Open Grand Prix at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, September 23rd 2016 (Image: ©Rolex / Cara Grimshaw)
Conor Swail (IRL) and Cita: fabulously fast but a rail put them back to third (Image: ©Rolex / Cara Grimshaw)

THE COURSE 
Guilherme Jorge, in his first year at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, set a demanding course to be completed within 83 seconds. “The two main concerns here at Central Park for a designer are to find a good track on a small ring and one that’s an unusual shape. I was happy today, they had a lot of room to gallop and to get to the fences, that was my main priority,” he said after the class.

Guilherme Jorge with Pippa and Alice from Horse & Hound at the Rio Olympics
Guilherme Jorge with Pippa and Alice from Horse & Hound at the Rio Olympics

“I think this event is very special, with the atmosphere and lights, it takes an exceptional horse to win here.”

WORLD’S TOP ATHLETES
Now in its third year, the show has quickly established itself on the international circuit and show attracts many top entrants. Its founder, Mark Bellissimo, remarked “This really was a special night. When we started this event, the goal was to put together something that had top equestrian sport in a unique setting. I think tonight’s competition was the best of the three years, with 10 in the jump-off in a very competitive round.”

You can watch the jump off comparison between Jimmy and Sharn on this link.

The full results can be found on this link.