Aaron Vale Races to Victory in CSI5* Longines Cup at 2022 Hampton Classic

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

Edited Press Release

Bridgehampton, NY – September 3, 2022  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 to one of only two double-clear rounds in 37.770 seconds to clinch the win. 

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 knocked a rail toward the end of the shortened track, landing them behind Vale and second-place finisher Molly Ashe Cawley (USA).

“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.”

Aaron Vale and Elusive © KindMedia

Cawley immediately followed Vale’s round with a clear of her own aboard Louisburg Farm’s 11-year-old Zangersheide mare Berdien, 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.”

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.”

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.”

Finishing off the day’s jumper championships were Amy Shafmaster of Portsmouth, NH, and her Infante SK, who earned the Medium Amateur Jumper Championship and the Firefly Challenge Trophy for their success during the show.

Stephanie Danhakl and Quest earned the High Score Amateur-Owner Award for their success in The Whitman Team Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter, 18-35 division. © KindMedia

Amateur-Owner, Junior, and Pony hunters also starred in the rings throughout the day, with the Amateur-Owner divisions awarding their championship titles. Among them was Quest, owned and ridden by Stephanie Danhakl of Pacific Palacades, CA, who earned the High Score Amateur-Owner Award and the Good Sportsmanship Trophy after collecting a total of 42 points in The Whitman Team Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter, 18-35 division. The pair won the division’s Championship and Breitling Trophy. 

Danhakl also won the Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter, 18-35 Championship aboard her Casanova Royal.

Earning the Human Touch Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter, 36+ Championship was Heckfield, owned and ridden by John Ingram of Nashville, TN. Ingram also rode his Romeo to the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter, 36+ Championship. 

For live show results, visit ShowNet.biz.

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