Saugerties, New York, USA – July 20, 2023 – FEI show jumping is back at Hits Saugerties as the Hudson Valley Jumping Tour premiers at the world-class facility in upstate New York. Thursday afternoon featured the first big CSI 3* class of the week where over 50 top international horse and rider pairings vied for the top spot in the $38,700 SummitMax Welcome CSI 3*. Columbia’s Mark Bluman and Ubiluc flew to the top of the podium, besting a large jump-off that included local Olympians McLain Ward (USA) and Beezie Madden (USA). Alex Matz (USA) slipped into second place by less than half a second with Cashew CR, while Ward and First Lady rounded out the top three.
“I saw McLain go and thought he had already won – I thought it was pretty quick,” explained Bluman. “Then Alex [Matz] got him and then I for sure thought that was it. Every time in a jump-off though I try to give it a shot and everything showed up pretty nicely and fast – I was able to shave a little bit of time off from jump two to three.”
The first round of the Meghan Rawlin’s (USA) designed course was made up of 15 jumping efforts and a 76-second time allowed for horse and rider to finish without incurring any time penalties. The track, which included a triple and double combination, tested many of the competitors and left 21 combinations advancing to the shortened track in the end.
Bluman went 37th in the original order of go with Over The Top Stables’ Ubiluc after already completing the track earlier with Olympic Van De Noordheuevel. Bluman used his first ride to his advantage and gave Ubiluc a smooth and clear ride to finish with zero penalty-points to earn a spot in the jump-off.
Setting a blazing time only beat by Bluman was Matz riding the entry of Dorothy Matz, Cashew CR. The duo came back late in the second round besting the previous leading time of Ward and First Lady with no faults in a time of 38.31 seconds.
McLain Ward (USA) and First Lady went clear in 38.48 seconds to round out the top three.
With quick riders such as Matz, Ward, and Molly Ashe going before Bluman in the jump-off, he was going to have to go all out to earn a place in the top three. Starting with a blistering pace and shaving as much time as possible, Bluman and Ubiluc left all the jumps up intact and edged Matz down to second by posting a time of 37.90 seconds.
“Ubiluc is 11 years old and we have had him since he was 6 years old,” noted Bluman. “My cousin Daniel [Bluman] was very successful with him and I just recently took over the ride and he has been very good. He can be a little bit quirky – in the jump-off he was bucking in most places, but he enjoys the job just as much as I do and we have a great bond. As soon as he gets to the horse show he knows it’s playtime and usually performs pretty well.”
“We have been wanting to see the improvements at Hits Saugerties for a really long time now,” concluded Bluman. “We are from New York, so it is nice to have Joey [Norick] and the entire HITS team put so much effort into making the improvements that have been made. The horse show is amazing with the footing and the change of jumps in the ring – it has given a completely different atmosphere.”
Week I of FEI 3* action will culminate Saturday afternoon with the $145,500 FEI Grand Prix CSI 3* sponsored by Alliant Private Client. The rest of the top hunter and jumper action will conclude on Sunday featuring a number of hunter and jumper classics, where riders will be looking to earn the championship honors of their respective divisions.
Final Results – $38,700 SummitMax Welcome CSI 3*
1) Mark Bluman (COL) & Ubiluc – 0 / 0 – 37.90
2) Alex Matz (USA) & Cashew CR – 0 / 0 – 38.31
3) McLain Ward (USA) & First Lady – 0 / 0 – 38.48
Source: Press Release from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography