For the past seven years, the Sir Ruly, Inc. Open Jumper Awards have offered $10,000 in cash bonuses to the top show jumping riders of the Vermont Summer Festival. Originally started by Raul “Ruly” Torano, uncle of U.S. grand prix rider Jimmy Torano, the awards now continue as a legacy of his incredible generosity and support for the annual Vermont Summer Festival and the Manchester community at large.
The Sir Ruly, Inc. Open Jumper Awards reward the show jumping riders who consistently place at the top of the three open jumper classes held each week of the Vermont Summer Festival: the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumper, the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, and the $30,000/$50,000 Grand Prix. Riders accumulate points by placing in any of the three classes, with the $10,000 in bonus money awarded to the top three finishers at the end of the six-week circuit.
For the first time in the history of the Sir Ruly, Inc. Open Jumper Awards, all three riders currently at the top of the standings will be competing during the final week of the Vermont Summer Festival. Heading into the final events, Penny Brennan currently holds the lead with 135 points, Colombia’s Mark Bluman sits second with 104 points and Jimmy Torano rounds out the top three with 99 points.
Jimmy Torano and his family have been regular competitors at the Vermont Summer Festival for well over a decade. His uncle fell in love with the show and the surrounding Green Mountains the first time he attended the show.
“He loved it here. He loved Vermont and he loved Manchester. He loved it so much, he built a house here,” Jimmy Torano remarked.
He continued, “Vermont was basically his baby. When the grand prix were still on Sundays, Sunday was his day. Every Sunday he would rent out VIP tables and invite all of his friends. Since he had a house here, he got to know a lot of people and he would invite them all to the show.”
When talk began of having an end of circuit award for the open jumper classes, Ruly Torano was the first to step up to the plate. At the time, Jimmy Torano was competing many of his uncle’s horses in the classes, but believes his uncle’s generous spirit is what truly motivated him to give back to the show and its competitors.
“A lot of people don’t know it, but he donated a lot of money throughout the community (of Manchester). When he passed and we were going through a lot of his things, I was shocked to see the money that he gave to causes in this town,” Jimmy Torano commented.
He continued, “Anyone who you ask from the show or from the area that knew him will tell you he was a gentleman. He was a hell of a guy. He was my uncle but he was also a great sponsor for my wife, Danielle, and me. He believed in us and he believed in this place.”
What started as a generous gift from a beloved member of the show jumping community continues today as a reminder of Ruly Torano’s love for horses and for the Vermont Summer Festival.
“(My uncle) passed away a couple of years ago, and my aunt and I talked about whether to continue the award. She decided it would be great to keep it going in his name. He passed, but that doesn’t mean the award needed to go. It keeps his name alive here in Vermont,” Jimmy Torano explained of the decision he and his aunt, Maria Teresa Torano, made.
Jimmy Torano is honored to continue to compete at the top levels in his uncle’s memory. Several of his horses maintain the Sir Ruly name as their owner.
“We still have a couple horses entered under Sir Ruly out of respect to him, even though he’s not around. We’ll always have a horse under Sir Ruly. He may not be here to buy it or support it but there will always be a Sir Ruly horse. We owe it to him out of respect for who he was and what he did for us,” said Jimmy Torano.
Jimmy Torano credited his uncle with giving him and his wife a leg up in the often expensive sport of international show jumping. His uncle bought him his first horse, Lancier 4, who Jimmy Torano rode at the 1999 and 2000 World Cup Finals and the 2000 Nations’ Cup in Aachen, Germany. He also owned Danielle Torano’s 2008 World Cup Final mount, Vancouver D’Auvray, and her well-known grand prix horse, Capitano.
“Yes, I did grand prix before him, but he really gave us a leg up. He really kept us at the top of the sport in a lot of ways. He helped us buy the horses that we maybe couldn’t afford,” Jimmy Torano recalled.
It was his uncle’s unadulterated love for horses that motivated him to support Jimmy Torano’s career, in addition to the Vermont Summer Festival and the town of Manchester.
“He did it more than anything because he loved the horses. They were his pets. He loved his horses more than most people loves their kids,” Jimmy Torano smiled. “He would come in the barn and it was almost obnoxious; he’d come in the barn and scream one of their names and the whole barn would go crazy because they knew he had 12 bags of carrots!”
Jimmy Torano concluded, “He was a true gentleman. Everybody loved him and he loved every one of his horses.”
As the final weekend for the 2013 Vermont Summer Festival approaches, Jimmy Torano will be among an impressive line-up of riders going head-to-head as they vie for their share of the $10,000 Sir Ruly, Inc., Open Jumper Awards. The $10,000 Theory Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, will take place on Thursday afternoon, August 8, while the grand finale, the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix, sponsored by Hand Motors, will be contested on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
The Vermont Summer Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary in its current Manchester location, offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.
The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix. The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 10. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday. The hugely popular $5,000 3’3” Hunter Derby is also held each Thursday for the first five weeks, with week six featuring the $15,000 Hunter Derby.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$10,000 Sir Ruly, Inc., Open Jumper Awards Standings as of August 7, 2013
1. Penny Brennan 135
2. Mark Bluman 104
3. Jimmy Torano 99
4. Michael Dorman 87
5. Hillary Simpson 80
6. Peter Wylde 73
7. Julie Welles 65
8. Devin Ryan 58
9. Luis Larrazabal 58
10. Catherine Tyree 49