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Magical Moments at the 2016 Rolex Central Park Horse Show

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Text by Heather Buchanan – Photos by David Handschuh – Photos by Alfredo Bini

The words Central Park always elicit a memory, be it a cherished childhood, romantic rendez-vous or favorite movie scene. It’s the beating green heart of a vibrant city and an oasis in the madness that is Manhattan. When Mark Bellissimo and the International Equestrian Group first dreamed the impossible dream of a horse show here little did they know that in its third year the Rolex Central Park Horse Show would become a major stop on the world’s top show jumping calendar, expanding to include dressage, hunters, Arabians, exhibitions and even Frederik the Great, the world’s most handsome horse who created a media stir when he stopped by the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

There was a bit of a Cinderella story with Jimmy Torano jumping to the win in the $216,000 U.S. Open FEI Grand Prix CSI 3*, presented by Rolex. His eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Day Dream is young by top show jumper standards and was literally a last minute entry. « He came out of the Gold Cup pretty well, which is why I called Mark (Bellissimo) and Michael (Stone) to see if there was an extra spot,” Torano said, “I really waited until the last second. I brought my horse to the jog even though he wasn’t in, because Michael said to go ahead and do it, and then somebody dropped out at the last second and I was able to come in. It all worked out, and I guess it was one of those things that was just meant to be. »

Torano himself jumped the wall from the announcer’s booth to the winner’s circle. Torano did the commentary for the NBC Sports broadcast of the RCPHS grand prix, and after experiencing the event wanted to compete even more.

In terms of star power the unbeatable Olympic Gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro incited a (well behaved) flash mob with fans who were thrilled to get selfies with this soon to be retired legend after his demonstration freestyle performance. Dujardin commented, “He loves meeting the crowd, and he loves the people. He was bombarded with people tonight, and he loves it. They were patting him, and hugging him, and kissing him, so what a nice end for him. »

In competition it was a win for Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K in the $75,000 U.S. Open FEI Dressage Freestyle CDI 4*, presented by Axel Johnson.

New Yorker Alexandra Crown and Basic got a win in the $5,000 Junior/Amateur 1.20m Jumper Speed Class.  She noted, « It is really exciting. This is my hometown. It is my backyard. I grew up ice skating in Wollman Rink, so it is really cool to get to win here in front of my parents and our friends. I am very happy. »

Thursday was deemed « Canadian Pacific Day », as competition highlighted the $40,000 U.S. Open Canadian Pacific FEI Speed Class, which saw a win for McLain Ward aboard HH Carlos Z. The evening’s competition also featured the $50,000 Engel & Völkers Puissance, where Ward and Andrew Kocher tied for victory by clearing the impressive wall in four rounds, and jumping off at 6’9″ inches.

And giving Frederik a run for his money in terms of handsome horses, the hunters arrived to compete in the ring with a view with Kelley Farmer aboard Kodachrome winning the $50,000 Duchossois Cup presented by the Gochman Family.

So for Central Park – a few brand new but lasting memories were added to the treasure chest.