Five-time Olympian McLain Ward (USA) piloted the 11-year-old Blossom Z, a Zangersheide mare owned by Ward, Wyndmont, and Heller, to an impressive win in the $37,000 Hampton Classic Speed Stake on Thursday.

Early in the class’s 40-rider lineup, six-time Olympian Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) rode the first clear round aboard Venice Beach, Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC’s 12-year-old Hanoverian mare. The pair made quick work of the 14-effort 1.45m course designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade, setting the time to beat at 59.41 seconds. Their lead held until Ward and Blossom Z stepped into the ring over halfway into the order and stopped the clock at 58.53 seconds.

“I know Rodrigo’s horse,” Ward said. “It’s a very fast horse, although maybe not one with the biggest stride. Earlier in the class, I got to ride my younger horse for a nice, smooth round, so I had a feel for the course going in. Blossom’s a very fast horse naturally, and I thought that if I could just do a stride less than Rodrigo here or there, I might be able to nip him.”

“It was a fast class,” Ward added. “These ranking classes typically are, so that’s not unexpected. Blossom really performed well and was there when I needed her.”

Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) was the only other rider to beat Pessoa’s time, riding Pine Hollow Farm’s Don’t Touch Du Bois to a speedy 59.00-second finish. She and the 12-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare took second in the class, with Pessoa ultimately finishing in third.

Ward’s victory in the $37,000 Hampton Classic Speed Stake increases his lead in the $30,000 LONGINES Rider Challenge with a total of 238 points. Derbyshire sits in second with 160 points, and Pessoa is just behind her with 140 points. The Challenge, which awards $30,000 and a LONGINES watch to the winner, will be awarded Sunday following the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix.

Other highlights of the day featured classes for the Adult Amateurs, including the $2,500 Adult Amateur Hunter Classic and the naming of Adult Amateur Hunter division champions.

Privet Farm LLC’s Trip to Paris, ridden by Mimi Moulton of Greenwich, Conn., won the $2,500 Adult 3’ Hunter Classic and the Robert Hoskins Perpetual Trophy with a total score of 167 points. Cynthia Sulzberger of Wellington, Fla., and her Coeur De Leon finished in second with 164 points.

The LoveShackFancy Adult Amateur ages 18-35 Championship and the Complement Trophy sponsored by Stephanie Bulger and MeadowView Farm went to Richard Cunkle’s Cussini, ridden by Lili Halterman of New York, N.Y. Carrica, owned and ridden by Stephanie Bulger of New York, N.Y., won the Carbon 38 Adult Amateur Hunter 36-49 Championship and the Excellabit Trophy. The Westfields Trophy was presented to Louisa Attenborough of Palm Beach, Fla., and her Bonaparte for winning the Adult Amateur 50 Years & Over Championship.

All show results here.