SAUGERTIES, NY (September 10, 2012) – While the tunes of concert headliner Michael McDonald played in the background, McLain Ward soaked in another Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix victory last night. After riding to a win in the inaugural event in 2010 aboard the famed mare Sapphire, Ward returned to glory, this time in the irons of Grant Road Partners, LLC’s Antares F, who is fresh off the Olympic Games in London.
“With being injured and trying to qualify for the Olympics, our schedule was a little unpredictable this year, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of this class and it was a great thing to aim this horse to at the end of his year,” said Ward. “The jumps were beautiful and the course was hard. You needed a real Olympic caliber horse to jump a lot of those obstacles.”
Ward of Brewster, New York was one of three riders to produce clear rounds over Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s intimidating track. Petersen tested riders with scope, turns, distances and everything in between. The 14-obstacle course offered several options for both approaches and striding, but specifically tested riders at a one-stride to a one-stride triple combination at fence 11. He also included a four-meter wide water element and a long two-stride double combination early in the course.
SAUGERTIES, NY (September 8, 2012) – Today Lillie Keenan proved, as she often does, that age isn’t always indicative of skill or experience. The 15-year-old from New York, New York piloted Chansonette Farm, LLC’s C Coast Z to the top of an impressive group of 66 qualified riders in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.
“This is my go-to horse and this course was really about knowing your horse,” said Keenan. “It’s great to have another final like this with so much support – it brings a lot of excitement to the ring.”
Keenan combined a first round score of 180 with a notable 186 in the second round to sit in first place with an overall score of 366. All bets are off tomorrow, however, as scores are wiped clean and competition moves from the Outside Course to the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium where the top 25 will compete in the third round before the top four scores move to the final round and the winner is crowned.
CULPEPER, VA (August 20, 2012) – This weekend, top amateur rider Jane Gaston of The Plains, Virginia and her own Handsel scored an impressive victory in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS Culpeper and proved that they will be a serious contender in next month’s Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.
“Last year was such an amazing experience in Saugerties,” said Gaston. “I am thankful that I will be able to participate again, this year. Anything can happen, but I will certainly be in it to win it.”
Saturday’s Devoucoux Hunter Prix was the first of three remaining qualifiers for September’s Final and welcomed 19 riders, all vying for a spot in HITS Championship Weekend. After round one, Gaston was on top of the leader board with a score of 82. Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas and MTM Farm’s MTM U Call It were not far behind when they received a score of 81 from Judge Irving Evans. The third score in the 80s in the first round went to Miranda Scott of Silver Spring, Maryland aboard Katherine Wheeler-Raheb’s C-Me in Colour.