Tag Archive | "McLain Ward"

It Was Ward’s Show

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web McLain Ward

by Raun Norquist


PHEW! The 36th Hampton Classic Horse Show finished up on Sunday September 4 and what a show it was. Hurricane Irene’s arrival on the scheduled opening day, Sunday August 28, caused the competition to be compressed from the usual eight days into five. Riders that might have had several events and different choices of horses were forced to narrow down their attempts making for an even more intense focus than usual.

McLain Ward, of Brewster, NY, as anticipated, made another fine show, having won the Grand Prix the past two years — and a record five times overall. This year he did not disappoint any fans.

Ward said, “I try to make it just another day at the office but that‘s just not reality. I am a competitive person. I don’t really think about the pressure of winning another year, I just think of the pressure day in and day out that I like to win.”

On Friday, August 2, Ward, for a purse of $50,000, took first place in the Spy Coast Farm Grand Prix Qualifier, over Ashlee Bond of Hidden Hills, Ca. There were nine competitors making clear rounds, qualifying for the jump-off.

“I knew there were a couple of fast riders coming in behind me in Darragh Kenny, Ashlee Bond, and my student Katie,” Ward said, “but I was going to try and lay down a tough round and thankfully it was.”

On Saturday, August 3, Ward, competing against himself in the Nicolock Open Jumper Challenge for $30,000, finished first, third, and fourth. He made three clear runs on three different horses, qualifying for the jump off on all three in a field of 14.

Sunday, September 4 was the last day of competition with the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier, and Ward rode Antares F, owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC. The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist tied his own record winning a Grand Prix at the Classic on three consecutive days, and tying Margie Engle’s record for three consecutive years, for a record, totaling six times, twice as many as anyone else.

Seven riders qualified for the jump off. Kent Farrington of Chicago, IL, on Uceko owned by R.C.G. Farm went first and completed a flawless run with a fast 32.96 seconds suggesting everyone else “should go home.” Ward said of Farrington “I watched Kent go and I said, ‘my God, I would like to be in the clubhouse with that round. I knew he had done eight strides to the third jump after the wall and I thought that was the only place maybe I could get him.”

Again Ward silenced the capacity crowd as he and Antares F entered the ring. Their round was swift and perfect with a time of 32.78 seconds, less than two tenths of a second faster than Farrington, besting 33 riders in a 16 jump competition, and 7 jump off qualifiers. Ward said, “I got him by a hair.”

“This is the best show in our country, it always has been,” said Ward.  “I always bring my best horse because I believe that the event that is put on here is worthy of that.  It means a lot to win here, it means as much for me to win this Grand Prix as any.”

The final Grand Prix rider, and the first Russian rider to compete at the Classic, Ljubov Kochetova of Russia, rode to a clear round on Royce, at only seven years old, he was the youngest horse in the class. She finished in a time of 40.11 seconds for third place.

Mclain Ward’s performances over the 5 days of competition were amazing but not the only triumphs. Victoria Colvin, of Loxahatchee, FL, finished first and second in the $10,000 Hermès Hunter Classic on Sunday.  Only one point separated the top two, with defending champion Way Cool, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, receiving the highest overall score of 180 points.  Sanzibar, owned by Karen Long Dwight and Barbara Ridder Irwin, were second with 179 points.  Pavarotti, owned by Teri Kessler, and ridden by Chloe Reid of Washington, D.C., came in third with a total score of 171 points.

Colvin on Sanzibar earned the highest score at 90 points in the first round. Way Cool was second with 89 points. Second round the results reversed with Way Cool finishing first receiving 91 points and Sanzibar scoring 89 points.

Horseability celebrated its 6th anniversary at the Hampton Classic Horse Show, again providing riders with disabilities the competitive experience that other equestrians enjoy.

The Reserve Champion in the LIHSSRD Walk with Aides Division was won by eight-years-old Kevin Allenburg, his 4th year at the Classic. “I started out riding for therapy, but I was so good I started to compete, I like winning, but I really love riding and the horses.” said Allenburg.

Even in the face of adversity, hurricane Irene aside, the show went on. So here’s to another marvelous Hampton Classic Horse Show, our local crowning glory of the summer and all of those pretty horses and all of those hard working competitors. Thanks for the show!





Ward Takes Record Fourth Grand Prix Title

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web 09 Hampton Classic Grand Prix_4604

By Raun Norquist

The 34th Hampton Classic Horse Show concluded Sunday August 30th with a two-time Olympic team gold medal horse named Sapphire, owned by Mclain Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock and ridden by McLain Ward, winning the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier, for a record fourth time.

The Classic has had it’s share of foul weather with several hurricanes and a tornado or two. This year hurricane Danny threatened to continue the tradition but was down-graded to a tropical storm, making an appearance on Saturday with plenty of rain, although not enough to stop the competition, and by Sunday for the Grand Prix, the skies cleared.

The FTI Grand Prix had a field of thirty-three contestants. Thirteen rode the course, dropping rails, refusing jumps, acquiring faults, before Judy Garofalo Torres, on Oliver, a nineteen-year-old from Higher Ground Farms, Dover Plains, N.Y. made the first clean run.

Torres said, “My horse did so well. I did think there would be a few more clears. I was getting pretty excited at the end.” It seemed Torres’ fault-free round was to go unchallenged until the final rider, McLain Ward, on his fourteen-year-old Belgian warmblood mare, Sapphire, aced the course too. The stage was set for a jump-off. There was a short break while the Conrad Homfeld-design course was shortened and reconfigured for the challenging round.

Torres won the tiebreaker and rode first. She made no faults, all rails in place, all jumps made, but the performance was cautious with a time of 56.88 seconds. Ward came out strong, flying over every jump, flawlessly, posting a winning time of 50.81. Third place was taken by Ireland’s Darragh Kenny on Oblelix, of Trade Winds Farm. Kenny was fastest of the nine four-fault rounds.

 “The course was quite difficult. Over the last few years the standard of this horse show has gone up again. Shannette (Barth Cohen, Exec. Dir.) has taken the show to another level. On course, the water line was spooky and caused a lot of trouble and the last line was a little mushy which might be why a lot of rails went down, but the footing held up great,” Ward said.

The jump-off set-up time was not long and Ward, being the final rider, was left little time for horse and rider to regroup forces. Ward said of his horse Sapphire, “She was running out of gas at the end of the jump-off and so was I, but she knows the game and was able to get it done. Either she keeps getting better or I have stopped getting in the way. Hopefully she stays healthy.”

In 2009 alone, this is Sapphire’s seventh win and it is the 118th career win for her rider Ward. “This year we picked the FTI events, they have been very good to us,” with a nod to the win of the FTI $400,000 Grand Prix in Wellington last March.

Ward has a lot to celebrate. He not only won the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix on Sunday, he won Friday’s $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Grand  Prix Qualifier, making him the third rider ever, following Joe Fargis in 2005 and Hillary Dobbs in 2008, to sweep the Hampton Classic’s top two events. If that is not enough he took the $30,000 Fendi Cup on another horse, Goldika, on Saturday, giving him three Grand Prix wins in three days.

Although Torres did not take the ribbon, she did take it in stride. “I have had him for ten years,” said Torres referring to her 19-year-old.  “I wanted this class to be the class of the year, the main event for him.  Coming in second to McLain is very, very exciting. I’ll take it.”

The week of competitions, ranging from the youngest riders in the Leadline and Short Stirrup classes, hunter/jumper classes from children with ponies all of the way through amateurs, circuit professionals and Olympic veterans is over. The tents are coming down, all of the horses and the crowds have left. We have had another year of hosting this great equestrian tradition, attracting the best in the field from far and wide.

Veteran rider, Debbie Stephens, from Florida, a twenty year + participant in the Hampton Classic, said, “The Classic is the Masters, Wimbelton, and the Breeder’s Cup, all in one. We work all year, making the circuit, so as to be primed for this biggest, most important, most prestigious equestrian event of the year.”