Canada’s Erynn Ballard (CAN) emerged victorious riding Fantast in the $100,000 Longines Speed Challenge on Friday evening at the Longines Masters of New York. It was an all-female podium finish as the women outran the men in one of the only Olympic sports where the sexes compete as equals.
Contesting the identical track that riders already faced in the Season III Longines Masters of Paris and Hong Kong, Ballard’s speed prowess allowed her to take a two-second penalty for a dropped rail yet still emerge victorious with a time of 60.62 seconds. Considered the world’s speed championship, Ballard’s time in the Longines Speed Challenge was faster than the 60.99 achieved by Julien Epaillard on home ground in Paris and eclipsed the time of 63.47 that Philipp Weishaupt of Germany posted riding Chacon in Hong Kong.
Leading into the Friday night competition, Longines Ambassador of Elegance and Co-founder of The Golden Hat Foundation Kate Winslet met local New York children with Autism and accepted a check on behalf of The Golden Hat Foundation, the Longines Masters of New York official nonprofit partner. The Longines Masters of New York also honored Long Island military this evening with a procession by the Marine Corps color guard and mounted police, and EEM received an official citation issued by Nassau County officials, welcoming the Longines Masters Series to New York.
Ahead of the Longines Speed Challenge, the Longines Masters Series showcased their global dedication to those living with Autism in partnership with The Golden Hat Foundation. EEM hosted members of local equine therapy partners to enjoy an evening at the Longines Masters of New York with Longines Ambassador of Elegance and Co-founder of The Golden Hat Foundation Kate Winslet.
“The Golden Hat Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the way people on the autism spectrum are perceived, by shining a light on their abilities and emphasizing their potential. With proper education and career training, these individuals can truly realize their dreams. Tonight is a shining example of how organizations, like Longines and the Longines Masters of New York, can make an impact to further Autism Awareness in their community”, said Kate Winslet.
New York’s Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA) kept all the rails in place aboard Fineman, owned by Rose Hill Farm, but finished more than a full second behind Ballard’s time, stopping the clock in 61.86 seconds. As the first rider on course, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) set the early pace with a time of 62.04 seconds that kept her on the podium in third place with Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili.
“I don’t think there’s anything better!” said Ballard of her Longines Masters debut. “I was excited to ride here tonight in front of a big crowd; they were cheering for you and cheering for Canada. As soon as you walk in the ring, you are excited to be here. It’s really an honor.”
Speaking of the key to her victory with the13-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Sagamore Farms, Ballard said, “I think the biggest difference is that my horse has so much natural speed. His legs are fast, he has a big-stride, and he can turn fast. I think we won from start to finish. He’s that fast!”
Created in 2010 by EEM, Founder and Producer of the Longines Masters Series Paris Hong Kong New York, the Longines Speed Challenge is the fastest show jumping competition in the world and always a crowd favorite. The Longines Speed Challenge is presented by Longines, Title Partner and Official Timekeeper of the Series.