By Lisa Hinson
2014 New Albany Classic winners Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z.
[New Albany, Ohio] – Each fall New Albany becomes the center of the show jumping world as riders and their mounts meet on the John G. McCoy Field to claim a share of the $125,000 prize money and add their name to the Authentic Cup as the winner of the New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix. Held on the grounds of the Wexner home in New Albany, Ohio, The Classic was founded by Abigail Wexner 18 years ago as the primary fundraiser for The Center for Family Safety and Healing. To date, The Classic has raised more than $25 million to support family violence initiatives in central Ohio.
The New Albany Classic is Sunday, September 20th from 10am to 5pm, and the opening ceremonies for the grand prix will begin at 2pm EST. Ticket information is available at The Classic website.
For the second year, the grand prix can be viewed free of charge via livestream on The Classic website thanks to a partnership with ShowNet.
Competitors at The Classic
Leading horse and rider combinations are back including the 2014 Classic winners, Irishman Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z, who narrowly edged out Beezie Madden aboard Vanilla in a thrilling jump off among seven competitors last year. Madden, who is the highest ranked U.S. rider in the Longines world rankings, returns this year aboard the Wexner-owned Breitling LS. Madden is coming off an exceptional summer, winning the Canadian Pacific $1 million Grand Prix FEI CSI-5* at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York on September 8. Madden was the only clear rider aboard Simon among a field of forty-one competitors. Earlier this summer, Madden also won for the second consecutive year the Longines King George V Gold Cup in Hickstead, England with Cortes “C”. Madden made history in 2014 with Cortes “C” as the first woman to win this prestigious grand prix, which was open to male riders only until 2008.
Mclain Ward, who is currently ranked fifth in the world, will be back for another go at the Authentic Cup. Ward’s summer has been just as stellar as Madden’s, including three clear rounds on Rothchild in the individual jumping finals of the 2015 Pan American Games.
Ward won the gold medal in this global competition, receiving his first individual championship medal after multiple team medals in the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games. Ward returned to the U.S. after the Pan Am Games and handily won the $100,000 ULCERGARD Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson VI aboard HH Carlos Z. He is the all-time leading winner of The Classic with first place finishes in 2004 aboard Goldika and in 2011 and 2012 aboard Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve.
Fans will also have their eyes on 25 year old Colombian rider Daniel Bluman, who finished third in last year’s Classic. Bluman has posted convincing results in 2015 including winning the $33,500 G&C Farm Cup at Spruce Meadows in July and placing 11th overall in individual competition in the Pan American Games, the highest individual placing ever for a Colombian rider.
Crowd favorite and hometown rider Ali Wolff will compete in her seventh Classic this year. Her highest place finish to date was a third in 2009 when she was just 20 years old. Now 26, Wolff is on the rise in the rankings after posting incredible results this season on her mount Casall, including a second in the $210,000 4* Grand Prix in Tryon, North Carolina, fourth in the $150,000 CSIO 4* in Xalapa, Mexico and fifth in the $372,000 5* World Cup qualifier at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
This year’s wild card competitors are an accomplished group of young riders including New Albany resident Andre Mershad, who will be the youngest competitor in the history of The Classic. At 16, Mershad’s stock has been rising with his consistent placings in all junior jumper divisions at the Winter Equestrian Festival, Spruce Meadows and Tryon. Other wild card competitors include Nicole Bellissimo, who finished seventh in 2014, Beat Mandli and Paul O’Shea.
The complete list of competitors includes (bolded names indicate wild card riders):
Founded in 1998 by Abigail Wexner, The New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day is the primary fundraiser for The Center for Family Safety and Healing (TCFSH), a Columbus-area nonprofit that aims to break the cycle of family violence. Since its founding, The Classic has raised over $25 million to support the ongoing work at TCFSH. Inspired by the nonprofit’s message, more than 15,000 guests attend The Classic annually, with an astounding 18,000 attending the 2014 event. Visitors come from all over the country to enjoy the variety of entertaining options found at The Classic, including the Concert at The Classic presented by Justice, which this year will feature performances by Timeflies, The Girl and The Dreamcatcher featuring Dove Cameron (Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie, Descendants) and Ryan McCartan, Before You Exit, RaeLynn and Skylar Stecker, as well as an internationally sanctioned grand prix and a bustling carnival, which has something for the whole family.
Tickets for The New Albany Classic went on sale in June and are available via Ticketmasterand Ticketmaster outlets, at Easton Town Center Guest Services, the CAPA Ticket Center and the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany. Adult tickets are $23 and youth tickets (4-10 years) are $7.50. Rides are included in the cost of the tickets. No tickets are required for children under 4.
About The New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day
The New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day presented by JPMorgan Chase and Co. will take place on Sunday, September 20th, from 10:00am to 5:00pm at the Wexner home in New Albany, Ohio. The event raises more than $1.7 million for The Center for Family Safety and Healing and features a lively country fair for families, the Concert at The Classic presented by Justice and an international show jumping competition among Olympic equestrians and their mounts for $125,000 in prize money. Since its inception, The Classic has raised more than $25 million to support The Center for Family Safety and Healing to break the cycle of family violence and to restore hope. In 2015, The Classic was named the #1 Specialty Equestrian Event by the North American Riders Group for the third year in a row.