McLain Ward Takes Top Two Spots in $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix

McLain Ward and HH Cannavaro. Photos copyright The Book LLC.

Darragh Kenny Wins $20,000 Leading Jumper Rider Award

North Salem, NY – May 18, 2014 – The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows came to a successful conclusion with their highlight event, the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix, presented by The Kincade Group, Merrill Lynch. McLain Ward rode to first and second place with HH Cannavaro and HH Carlos Z, both owned by Double H Farm, over a prestigious field of horses and riders. After two weeks of top finishes, Darragh Kenny won the $20,000 Leading Jumper Rider Award, presented by Houlihan Lawrence. Today’s competition concluded two great weeks of equestrian sport in North Salem, and Old Salem Farm would like to thank the exhibitors, sponsors, and staff for their support.

Watch an interview with grand prix winner McLain Ward!

The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows were held May 6-11 and May 13-18 at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY. The shows featured over 130 hunter and jumper classes each week, bringing together top competitors, including Olympic show jumpers, from across the country to compete for almost $500,000 in prize money.

There were 42 entries in the grand prix, and nine of them were clear to advance to the jump-off over a course designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade. The first clear round in the jump-off came from Leslie Howard on Jane Clark’s Wintu, who recorded a time of 38.758 seconds. They would finish in fourth place. Next in, Candice King and Bellissimo LLC’s Kismet 50 placed fifth with a time of 40.325 seconds and no faults.

Michael Hughes and Macarthur
Michael Hughes and Macarthur

Ward and HH Cannavaro set the winning time at 36.896 seconds. The rider who came the closest to catching Ward was Michael Hughes of Allendale, NJ, on Macarthur, who stopped the timers in 37.836 seconds for third place. Ward and his second horse, HH Carlos Z, had a time of 37.232 seconds, just off the pace.

Hughes has been riding Macarthur for three years, and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Concorde has helped him move into the grand prix arena. “He’s been a great horse for me,” Hughes affirmed. “He has a lot of experience, so he’s good for me to go in and start jumping bigger classes like this. He’s pretty much been my main horse to go jump bigger jumps on. He’s a great horse. He’s just such a smart horse and so clever.”

Hughes said that Macarthur’s scope and big stride came in handy on the grass Grand Prix Field. Watching the jump-off, he adjusted his plan. “I had a different plan when I initially walked it, and then I saw McLain go. I changed my plan a little bit doing a few less strides here and there,” he said. “I still ended up doing the add down the last line, which I guess cost me a little bit.”

Ward said of the jump-off course, “There was a seven (strides) from one to two, and then from three to four there was another seven strides, which was difficult to get. But [Cannavaro] has such a big, ground-covering stride that I really thought he could do it. He did it easy. I was trying to be a little faster with Carlos because I knew that Brianne and Kevin were coming after me. But the second to last (jump) didn’t show up quite the way I wanted, and I had to add a stride. But it all worked out.”

Both horses are new to Ward, who started with HH Cannavaro in January and HH Carlos Z in February of this year. “It’s a restarted partnership with Hunter Harrison and Double H Farm, so it’s very exciting for us,” Ward noted. “They’re both really talented and very willing horses. It’s nice that things are really starting to come together.”

HH Cannavaro, a 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Caplan, is “a bit like riding a big equitation horse,” Ward said. “He’s very easy, he’s very straightforward. He has massive jump, and he has a lot of quality. He doesn’t want to touch the fences. Probably sometimes you’d have to say he’s not the fastest horse in the world, a little bit like another great horse I had, Sapphire. But he’s so willing that you can do distances and turns that you can’t do on another horse.”

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z
McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z

Describing HH Carlos Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z, as “very, very fast,” Ward said that he is “like a minibike.” He added, “He’s a horse I’ve known for a number of years; he’s a great winner. He’s a wonderful addition to have in the string because he’s a very competitive horse that can win every day.”

Hailing from Brewster, NY, just a few miles down the road, Ward has competed at Old Salem Farm for years and the shows here rank among his favorites. He remarked, “For many years it was a nice, national-level show, and it’s really grown into pretty much an international event now. The Hakim family and the management have done such a phenomenal job with the facility. It’s very exciting for us in this area to have this place, trying to run not only the great spring shows here, but the American Gold Cup and possibly some big, exciting events to come in the future. This area is behind it; it’s a horse area.”

Earlier in the day, Lillie Keenan rode Abigail Wexner’s Vanilla to victory in the $7,500 Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic with a clear jump-off round and time of 37.747 seconds. Brianne Link and E Bay, last week’s winners, were a close second place in 37.819 seconds. Maria Costa and Reno were third with a time of 38.140 seconds.

Karen Polle and Bottom Line were the fastest in the $20,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic presented by Miller Motorcars. They crossed the finish line almost a second faster (40.541 seconds) than Gabriela Mershad and Ledgepoint, who had a time of 41.435 seconds. Third place went to Charles Jacobs and Cassinja S, who were just fractions slower in 41.540 seconds.

There were a variety of awards presented today in the Hunter Ring and Sand Ring. They included:

Grand Junior Hunter Champion: Akinda, ridden and owned by Victoria Press

Best Junior Rider on a Horse: Victoria Press

Grand Pony Hunter Champion and winner of the “JetSetter Challenge Trophy” donated by Grand Central Show Stables: Brighton Heartbreaker, ridden by Daisy Farish for Phoebe Weseley

Best Junior Rider on a Pony: Caroline Passarelli

Grand Children’s Hunter Champion and winner of the “Shades of Gray” trophy donated by MeadowView Farm: Commander, ridden and owned by Lilly Walker

Best Children’s Rider on a Horse: Louisa Soohoo

Grand Children’s Pony Hunter Champion: Ashworth, ridden by Mackenzie Wanicka for Ridgefield Equestrian Center, Inc.

Best Child Rider on a Pony: Mackenzie Wanicka

Full horse show results can be found at

WATCH LIVE! Video on demand of the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix is available on the presented by SmartPak. All classes in the Grand Prix Field and Sand Ring are also available at

Visit the Old Salem Farm and Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows Facebook pages for results, photo galleries, and more! Old Salem Farm has joined Twitter and Instagram too – follow us to see exclusive photos and videos, let us know what you like about our events, and share your experiences.

Old Salem Farm, located just one hour north of New York City, is one of the best equestrian competition venues in North America, as rated by the North American Riders Group in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Host of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, the prestigious American Gold Cup CSI-W 4*, and year-round competitions, the facility offers a state-of-the-art turf grand prix field, indoor riding arena, and two all-weather footing rings. As a boarding and training facility, Old Salem Farm is second to none and home to top trainer Frank Madden. For more information, please visit or call 914-669-5610.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations

Be Sociable - Share!

Leave a Reply