SAUGERTIES, N.Y.- In a $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties that was dominated by foreigners, Andre Thieme of Germany, riding Conthendrix, had the only clear round to win the event, making this the third time he has won a $1 Million Grand Prix.
Thieme, riding 28th of 41 entries in the competition on Sept. 10, had one time fault, but no one else was able to master the course set by Martin Otto of Germany.
There were three that finished on four faults, and they were separated by time.
Sham Wordley of New Zealand on Barnetta was second, with four faults in 83.99, while Daniel Bluman, riding for Israel, finished third on Ladriano Z, four faults in 84.44, and Amanda Derbyshire of Great Britain was fourth on Luibanta BH, four faults in 86.20.
The best Americans could do was place fifth, six and seventh, with Catherine Tyree on Enjoy Louis fifth, five faults in 87.29, and Devin Ryan on Eddie Blue sixth, also with five faults in 87.30.
KRISTEN VANDERVEEN on Bull Run's Testify was the fastest of those with eight faults to finish seventh in 80.66, and Paul O'Shea of Ireland was eighth on Skara Glen's Machu Picchu, eight faults in 82.33.
Thieme had to wait for 13 riders to compete before he would know if his one time fault would hold up for the win.
“I wasn’t sure I’d live though, waiting until the end of the class,” said Thieme.
As Thieme watched the class, he said that he had adjusted his strategy.
“After seeing 10 or so go, the white skinny vertical, [fence 12], came down quite a bit, and I realized this was kind of the joker in the course, at least to me,” Theime said. “I changed my plan so as to not just roll back on it and try to stay in the time allowed, but instead to almost fully stop him there, catch our breath, and then ride that one as if it was a new first fence. I thought I may have overdone it when I added three extra strides. That really cost me the time allowed, which got me the time fault, but no jumping faults. In the end, my plan worked out for the win.”
Wordley had competed in the Million in the previous two years, but he hadn’t planned on competing in the Million on Barnetta until the day before, when the big bay jumped so phenomenally in the ring that Wordley thought he’d give Barnetta a shot.
“It’s the first time he has jumped a five star Grand Prix, which today made him impress me even more,” said Wordley.
Time was clearly a factor, with 16 of the 41 entries incurring time faults, and none clear but Thieme.
“I believe that when you are jumping for a million dollars, the course should be huge," said Bluman. "Though it was set big and wide, and never stopped challenging, the course was technically friendly, not tricky.”
“I really thought there were going to be a couple of clear rounds,” said Bluman, who went late in the order. “I knew Andre was a big contender, and when he had a time fault, I thought I had my opening to maybe win this Grand Prix. My horse is feeling great. I didn’t see Sharn’s round, but I was convinced that even if I had one down, I would be second, so, it was quite disappointing to land from the last one to see that I was third.”
Thieme claimed his first Million-Dollar victory in Saugerties in 2011 aboard Aragon Rouet, followed by his second Million-Dollar victory in 2014 at HITS Ocala with Contanga 3.