Morgan ward stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

The $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic on Sunday, May 26, marked the end of competition in the HITS Hudson Valley Grand Prix Stadium for the first week of the 2024 HITS-on-the-Hudson series in Saugerties, New York. From a field of 21 top athletes, Morgan Ward and Jiran R, owned by Morlynn Farm, came out on top. 

Nine combinations managed to find the clear path in the first round to advance to the deciding jump-off. Six replicated their success with a second fault-free performance, but it was Ward and Jiran R that were the fastest in 32.57 seconds to claim victory.

Morgan Ward and Jiran R. Photo by ESI Photography

Jiran R is a newer mount for Ward, having begun their partnership about a year and a half ago. After spending the winter season getting to know each other better, Ward is now capitalizing on the talented bay’s strengths.

“He’s a really fast horse,” said Ward of the 10-year-old Anglo European gelding (Winston Jumper R x Zambesi). “It has taken me a bit to figure out how fast we can go. He’s a faster thinker than I am, so it has been a really fun progress.”

Francois LaMontagne and Lacros VDL take second. Photo by ESI Photography

As the spring and summer show season continues, Ward plans to split her time between the HITS Hudson Valley and HITS Vermont venues. While she prepares for some of the bigger grand prix classes still to come, Ward appreciates what HITS has to offer.

Sarah Hubbard and Latino Van De Looise Heide take third. Photo by ESI Photography

“Jiran R has won a lot of these classes, and I think this is a great class for HITS to have,” she noted. “Everything on the grounds looks fantastic and the jumps look great too. This is a great horse show to be at.” 

Ava Oberting stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

Starting off the morning jumpers was the $5,000 Pyranha/NAL Jr/Am 1.25m Jumper Classic. Ava Oberting of Loudonville, New York, and her 10-year-old Oldenburg mare, Carembar Blue (Carembar De Muze) were top of the class. The pair delivered a speedy and clear jump-off with a time of 40.71 seconds for the win.. 

Cullen Drescher Speckhart and Helsinki V.D.O. Photo by ESI Photography

In the $5,000 NAL Jr/Am 1.35m/1.45m Jumper Classic, Cullen Drescher Speckhart of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Helsinki V.D.O,  her own 12-year-old KWPN gelding (Cardento 933 x Conterno-Grande), were first in the class. 

Competition at HITS Hudson Valley continues on Wednesday, May 29, with the start of HITS-on-the-Hudson II.