Tag Archives: McLain Ward

McLain Ward and Noche De Ronda Claim $73,000 Holiday & Horses 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*

McLain Ward and Noche De Ronda ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 27, 2020 – The ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4* returned to the main stage at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Friday, November 27, with the $73,000 Holiday & Horses 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*, presented by Premier Equestrian. Claiming a familiar place at the top of the leaderboard, Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) piloted Noche De Ronda, the horse he co-owns with Marilla Van Beuren and Bob Russell, to the fastest double-clear time of the contest.

Friday’s field included 73 horse-and-rider pairs representing 13 countries, including the United States, Ireland, Switzerland, Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Egypt, Chile, Japan, and Russia. Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) created a 16-effort track for competitors that produced 16 clear rounds from the starting order.

“The jump-off was fast, and it sometimes comes off the way you want,” reflected Ward of his jump-off ride. “I think after the double combination [we made up time]. Bliss’ horse is an incredible jumper and a very fast horse, but doesn’t have the stride that Ronda has, and I was able to do one stride less, maybe two less, across the diagonal after the double combination and for sure one less stride coming home. I think probably those two places most of all helped us. It was one of those jump-offs where the plan just worked.”

Trimmed down to eight fences, the jump-off pattern led to eight teams finishing on a second fault-free ride. Halfway through the class, Daniel Bluman (ISR) held the lead aboard Colestina H, owned by Blue Star Investments and Kim Douglas, with a foot-perfect time of 36.16 seconds. Bliss Heers (USA) inched faster riding Bridgeside Farms LLC’s Antidote De Mars in 35.10 seconds, but the fifth-to-last partnership, Ward and Noche De Ronda, sliced even more time off the clock. The quick pair broke the beam with no faults in 34.26 seconds, a time that proved unbeatable for the remaining contenders. Heers and Antidote De Mars maintained the runner-up spot, followed by Ben Maher (GBR) on Deborah Perkins’ Day Dream in 35.53 seconds.

“Ronda has jumped well this year since Florida in the spring but has had a little bit of an unlucky four-fault streak in a few big grand prix classes though she has been performing well. She has always been great in this ring, and she was really in great form today,” Ward noted of his partner for the class, a 2009 Oldenburg mare by Quintender x Loves Corinth.

Ward and Noche De Ronda’s victory Friday added to their list of successes in Wellington after two grand prix victories in the span of a week in February 2020. The pair topped the $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* during Week Five of the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival, then six days later earned the victory in the $213,300 Grand Prix CSIO5* during one of two Nations Cup weeks in Wellington.

“She’s going to jump this week and then in two weeks again. We will start back up a little later in the season this spring for some of the bigger classes,” Ward commented on his plans for Noche De Ronda through the remainder of the ESP Holiday Series and the upcoming 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival.

The International Arena’s classes concluded Friday with the $10,000 Bainbridge 1.40m Open Stake, which saw 53 entries in the first round of riding and 13 in the jump-off. As the fifth to go over the short course, Laura Kraut (USA) turned in a quick time of 34.76 seconds on Cherry Knoll Farm Inc’s Haley to take the lead, and their time would be unbeatable. McKayla Langmeier (USA) claimed the second spot riding Linda Langmeier’s Cadence De L’Escaut in a clear time of 34.98 seconds, while Erynn Ballard (CAN) captured third spot with Katherine Benard’s Delirius Del Sol in 35.06 seconds.

Geoffrey Hesslink and Small Occasion Are Big Winners in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Hunter riders took to the ring Friday during the ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4*, which is the first show out of six that make up the ESP Holiday Series. The highlight hunter class of the week, the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Bainbridge, featured 31 entries over courses designed by Jasen Shelley. With two scores nearing the 100-point mark, Geoffrey Hesslink of Shelbourne, VT and Small Occasion, owned by Shadowfax Equestrian LLC, claimed the victory ahead of a high-scoring field.

“She is a famous horse and has won all over the country at the main events,” Hesslink remarked on Small Occasion. “It just so happened that we were lucky enough to fall into place with her this summer for one of my clients, Raina Swani, as her first junior hunter. She is just so much fun. She is a blast and a winner and always puts in 110 percent.”

Following the first round of the class, the cut-off score for the top 12 sat at a lofty 86 points thanks to a series of top performances from exhibitors. Hesslink and Small Occasion, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, led the way with 96 points, earned from a classic score of 92 plus four bonus points for taking the high option fences. Kristy Herrera of Wellington, FL rode Kate Ellis’ Valhalla to second position with 93 points, and last week’s National Derby winner Jimmy Torano of Wellington, FL and Isalou Inc.’s Laskano were not far behind with a score of 92. All told, 10 points separated first position from twelfth place, keeping standings tight headed into the handy round.

“We continued to show through most of the year even with everything going on, so I feel like I’ve adapted pretty well to how things are going now,” Hesslink commented of competing under COVID protocol. “This is sort of our first week back into it, so it was a great start and the horses feel great. They do a nice job here, so we are very excited and happy. It’s nice to be able to show and feel safe. My clients and I have a really top string of hunters and horses for every ring, just like her, and I’m really excited to get the chance to show them and hopefully do well this season.”

In the handy phase, competitors returned in the reverse order of the standings, giving Hesslink and Small Occasion the advantage of going last as the early frontrunners. Torano and Laskano had moved up one spot to hold the lead with only one pair left to go, earning 94 points over the handy course to push them to 186 total points. In the end, Hesslink and Small Occasion retained their status at the top of the scorecard with 93 points to finish on a cumulative two-round score of 189. Torano and Laskano claimed second place, and Herrera captured the final podium spot with Valhalla. Jennifer Bliss of Loxahatchee, FL also had a great day, finishing aboard three horses in the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward and Contagious Are Uncatchable in $37k Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3*

McLain Ward and Contagious ©Sportfot.

Mill Spring, NC – October 15, 2020 – McLain Ward (USA) and Contagious were uncatchable in the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3* at Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort (TIEC), stopping the short-course timers in 40.4 seconds for the win. Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) grabbed two top-five placings aboard Gochman Sport Horse LLC entries, piloting Cornwall BH, the 2008 Holsteiner stallion (Con Air x Cambridge), to second on a time of 49.83 seconds, while also claiming fourth aboard Luibanta BH, the 2008 Irish Sport Horse mare (Luidam x Abantos), in a time of 41.56 seconds on four faults. Darragh Kenny (IRL) rounded out the podium in the irons with the 2007 Holsteiner gelding (Cartani x Heraldik II) owned in partnership with Whiterock Farm Ltd., Carthano, putting in the fastest four-fault round in a time of 41.43 seconds.

The Ghuiherme Jorge (BRA) course design saw 100 entries challenge the first round, with only six pairs earning the chance to tour the jump-off track. Ward and the 2009 German Sport Horse gelding (Contagio x For Keeps) owned by Beechwood Stables LLC managed to make the best of a tough situation with a field stacked with stiff competition, he shared:

“It’s a tough situation. It’s a three-star event, but because of the state of the world and our sport right now, you have 100 [competing] today,” he analyzed. “To me, that was like a five-star 1.55m track. I’m lucky to have a horse like Contagious who’s up to that, but you also saw a lot of horses today who were surprised by it.”

Jordan Coyle and Picador Conquer $37,000 EquiSafe Global Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*

October 14, 2020 – Jordan Coyle (IRL) and Picador’s performance could not be topped in the $37,000 EquiSafe Global Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*, halting the speed phase timers at 25.146 seconds. Eugenio Garza (MEX) and Caracas, the 2009 Holsteiner gelding (Cachas x Unknown) owned by Nerijus Sipaila, earned second on a speed phase time of 25.43 seconds, while Kristen VanderVeen (USA) claimed the yellow rosette aboard Bull Run’s Almighty, the 2008 Hanoverian gelding (Caspar x Quidam De Revel) owned by Bull Run Jumpers Six LLC, on a time of 26.079 seconds.

Coyle and the 2007 British Warmblood gelding (Lupicor x Concorde) owned by Elan Farm toured the Ghuiherme Jorge (BRA) course design without seeing many riders go, he admitted, but having a naturally quick horse made all the difference. “I rode one horse before Picador in the class, so I kind of knew the distances. I didn’t get to see Eugenio go, but I saw Kristen’s ride and she was fast. Luckily, I have one of the fastest horses there is! The course was nice, but honestly, it’s the horse,” Coyle emphasized about where he gained the advantage in a class of 42 starters.

McLain Ward and Elke Maria M Win $1,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*

October 14, 2020 – McLain Ward (USA) and Elke Maria M, the 2009 Dutch Warmblood mare (Cornet Obelensky x Carthago) belonging to Willem Greve Sportpaarden BV, stopped the timers in 23.02 seconds to earn top honors in the $1,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3* Wednesday at TIEC. Hunter Holloway (USA) and Pepita Con Spita, the Hays Investment Corp. entry and 2011 Westphalian mare (Con Spirit 7 x Come On), completed the speed phase in 23.585 seconds for reserve honors in the class of 50 entries, while Teddy Vlock (ISR) cleared the speed phase in 24.253 seconds to earn third with Charly Brown, the Vlock Show Stables-owned 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Burggraaf).

To learn more, visit www.Tryon.com.

Lee McKeever’s Impact on Castle Hill Farm

For over 30 years, Lee McKeever has been the head groom, right-hand man, and trusted counselor to arguably the most influential modern American show jumper – McLain Ward. An equestrian phenom, Ward has left little to prove in the arena, winning gold medals at the Olympics, the Pan American, and the World Equestrian Games, topping the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Finals, and being ranked #1 in the world. As anyone at that level of competition will say, ‘it takes a village’ of dedicated, organized, and highly specialized people behind the scenes to make it to the summit of sport. McKeever has played a pivotal role in every step of Ward’s decorated professional career. With tremendous hard work, dedication, grit, and a bit of Irish superstition sprinkled in, Lee McKeever is indispensable to the Castle Hill dynasty and fortunately is not slowing down anytime soon.

“He knows the horses better than anybody. He knows how to have their conditioning, their health, how to prevent as well as deal with injuries. There’s never been a moment when I doubted that my horses were in anything but the best of care and had the best preparation to compete.” — McLain Ward, 2-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Show Jumping

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From the US Equestrian Federation

Watch Live as McLain Ward and Lee McKeever Tell All on “Unbridled”

Temecula, Calif. – Apr. 29, 2020 – Following the great success of the first episode of “Unbridled” on NEE TV, Nilforushan Equisport Events is excited to continue the series May 11 with one of the United States’ most popular and decorated show jumping duos: McLain Ward and Lee McKeever. Having worked together for more than 30 years, celebrated Olympic Champion McLain Ward and his barn manager and head groom Lee McKeever have been side-by-side through the ups and downs of their personal and professional lives, making for a unique partnership.

Featuring a “no holds barred” question-and-answer format, McLain and Lee will speak candidly with show founder, Ali Nilforushan, about topics including their beginnings and rise in the sport, maintaining a status as one of the best operations in the world, their working relationship, the horses along the way and a troublesome family history that has followed them for years, plus much more.

Ahead of the show, a discounted rate of $35 will be available for viewers with a promo code before the price increases to $50 on the day of the interview. Go to Jump-NEE.com/NEE-TV and click “Register Here!” to access the promo code.

To tune in, join NEE TV for the LIVE episode at 9 a.m. PDT (12 p.m. EDT) on Monday, May 11. To gain access to the interview, register for the episode at Jump-NEE.com/NEE-TV. Viewers will have a chance to submit questions ahead of the show, so start thinking about what you want to know!

For more information about Nilforushan Equisport Events, please visit www.jump-nee.com.

McLain Ward Pilots HH Azur Back to the Top in Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*

McLain Ward and HH Azur. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 22, 2020 – Two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward won his third CSI5* in two weeks by taking top call in the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*, riding his 2016 Olympic mount, HH Azur, during “Saturday Night Lights” on February 22, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Santiago Varela (ESP), who has been tapped to set the tracks at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, was the course designer for the Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix, which welcomed six contenders from three different countries to a tie-breaking jump-off.

Continuing a banner month that included the birth of his second daughter, Madison, Ward is riding a wave of success and a little bit of luck.

“It’s been a pretty incredible few weeks. My team is doing an amazing job,” said Ward, who also won the Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI5* during WEF five riding Noche de Ronda. “I’m lucky to have phenomenal horses and owners, to be able to have multiple horses that can win at this level. If we’re really honest with ourselves, sometimes you can do nothing right, and sometimes you can do nothing wrong. We’re in one of those streaks, and we’re going to enjoy it and try to keep doing our best.”

Claire Stevenson Rides Prem’ Dollar Boy to Win Ariat National Adult Medal

The Ariat National Adult Medal took place on Saturday in Ring 7 with Claire Stevenson piloting Prem’ Dollar Boy to top honors. The pair received a 77 in the first round. The top four horses returned to the ring for a test, where Stevenson and Prem’ Dollar Boy were able to rise to the top of the class.

Stevenson, of Southampton, NY, and her horse Prem’ Dollar Boy have just begun their equitation career together. The 17-year-old Selle Français gelding (Dollars Boy x De Va Hurie) was originally a grand prix horse and only started competing in the equitation during week three of the 2020 WEF. Stevenson describes Prem’ Dollar Boy as her “forever horse” and also one of the sweetest horses she knows.

“We take care of him ourselves, so whether it’s doing the stall in the morning or night check, he’s like a lap dog,” Stevenson described. “He’s also so fun to ride; regardless of what I’m doing with him, I have a blast. To get to have some success as well is a lot of fun.”

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward Scores Brilliant Victory in Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5*

McLain Ward and Noche de Ronda. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 8, 2020 – Two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward charged to a win in the $401,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI5* in front of a packed International Arena riding Noche de Ronda during “Saturday Night Lights” at the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival on February 8 in Wellington, FL.

Forty of the world’s best crossed the start timers to Anthony D’Ambrosio’s and Andy Christiansen’s (USA) first-round track with 12 posting perfect rounds to advance to a jump-off. U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington and Gazelle sat in the leading position on a time of 39.51 seconds when Ward entered the ring. To the roar of a home-country crowd, Ward and Noche de Ronda broke the timers double-clear and the ones to beat in 37.47 seconds.

“That’s about all Ronda and I had to give,” said Ward. “I think for any of us, at that level, when you get to go after the one that sets the time, you have a bit of an advantage. Normally, you come out by winning or crashing, one or the other. It all came off very nice and the horse really performed spectacular.”

Sterling Malnik and Charlie Are Victorious in the THIS Children’s Medal 14 and Under

Equitation competition began Saturday morning at the South Ring with Sterling Malnik of Ocean Ridge, FL riding to the win in the THIS Children’s Medal for riders 14 and Under. Malnik rode her mount, Charlie, to a score of an 84 in the jumping phase and then rose to the top in the test.

Charlie is a fairly new ride for Malnik, who has been working with the horse for three weeks. The pair, trained by Bill Schaub, have only shown in the THIS Medal twice and are already proving to be ones to watch.

Going into the test, Malnik knew that she could count on her 12-year-old gelding. “I was really nervous because I’ve never tested inside the ring before,” Malnik explained. “Thankfully I didn’t have to go first! Charlie is also very experienced and knows what he has to do, so he helped me out.”

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward and Catoki Are Two-for-Two at WEF

McLain Ward and Catoki. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – January 24, 2020 – U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward claimed his second win during week three of the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in the $37,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.45m CSI3* aboard Catoki at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL on Friday, January 24.

Ward and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Catoki x Cartello B) are a new partnership, but they have wasted no time getting to the winner’s circle. The duo topped a field of 59 over Kelvin Bywater’s (GBR) speed track by a nearly two-second margin over Mexico’s Santiago Lambre and his own Doloris. Ward stopped the clock in 57.54 seconds, while Lambre settled for second in 59.12 seconds.

“He’s naturally an incredibly fast horse, so in the speed classes you have a little bit of an advantage,” said Ward of the horse he owns with Marilla van Beuren and Bob Russell. “Santiago is a very fast rider, but this horse is, I think, the fastest horse I’ve ever ridden. I knew turning for home we were very fast, and if things come up basically as you want, he’s just naturally faster than most horses, so you don’t have to do anything extraordinary.”

Krista Weisman and Concept Claim Adult Amateur Hunter Young (Section A) Championship

Hunter competition in the Rost Ring continued on Friday with the crowning of Krista Weisman and Concept as the Adult Amateur Hunter Younger (Section A) champions. Weisman rode Concept to two first and two second-place finishes in the division.

Weisman, of Brooklyn, NY, was excited to get back into the show ring with Concept after recently having a baby. “We like to joke that he was on paternity leave over the summer and now this is his second show back in a year,” Weisman explained.

The pair had a successful return to the show ring and definitely stood out to the judges. “He has the most comfortable canter and feels like he is just floating along,” Weisman said.

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward Charges into WEF Week 3 with Douglas Elliman Real Estate CSI3* 1.45m Victory

McLain Ward and Catoki. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – January 22, 2020 – U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward opened week three at the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a win riding Catoki in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI3* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL on Wednesday, January 22.

With a second and a half to spare, Ward and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Catoki x Cartello B) bested a field of 48 over Kelvin Bywater’s (GBR) two-phase course. Their time was enough to win over runner-up Darragh Kenny (IRL) aboard Billy Dorito, owned by Vlock Show Stables LLC, who posted a time of 31.22 seconds.

Ward picked up Wednesday’s top placing while introducing Catoki, a new mount in his string, to FEI competition in North America. The mount was previously campaigned in Poland before carrying U.S. rider Brian Feigus to top national-level placings over the past two years.

Standing at only 15.1 hands high, according to Ward, Catoki is small but mighty. “He’s barely a horse. He’s almost a pony, but fast as lightning and very careful. I think he can be like another [HH] Carlos.”

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

International Show Jumping Stars Converge at Toronto’s Royal Horse Show

McLain Ward riding HH Gigi’s Girl. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Toronto, Ontario – Olympic gold medalists and former No. 1 riders in the world rankings make up a star-studded field in the international show jumping division at the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, from November 1 through 10, 2019, at Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto, ON.

Four days of international show jumping competition will culminate in the $210,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto on Saturday evening, November 9. Riders from around the globe will try to unseat defending champion McLain Ward of the United States, who won last year’s featured event riding HH Gigi’s Girl.

This year, the two-time Olympic team gold medalist will defend his title aboard an up-and-coming mount, Noche de Ronda. With a longstanding history at The Royal that dates back more than 20 years, Ward marks it on his competition schedule each and every year.

“I’m not Canadian, but The Royal feels like a second home for me,” said Ward, who has won the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto an impressive nine times to date. “I love the city, the competition, and the sold-out crowd that we get to ride in front of every night. Seeing a horse show that embraces tradition and still has people attend in black tie is a special experience for me as a rider. I remember coming here with my dad and it continues to be a family affair for us. I am happy to be a part of it again this year.”

Joining Ward on the list of U.S. riders invited to compete at this year’s Royal Horse Show are Olympic medalists Kent Farrington, Laura Kraut, and Beezie Madden, along with Georgina Bloomberg, Lucy Deslauriers, Margie Engle, and Andy Kocher.

Leading the charge from beyond North American borders are Israel’s Daniel Bluman; Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Amanda Derbyshire; Belgium’s Jos Verlooy; and a strong Irish contingent made up of Bertram Allen, Daniel Coyle, Conor Swail, and Shane Sweetnam.

Following the formula of eight U.S. competitors and eight international competitors, Canada will also have eight show jumping representatives in the international division at this year’s Royal. Based on the current Longines world rankings, Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON; Mario Deslauriers (father of Lucy) of New York, NY; Eric Lamaze of Wellington, FL; Amy Millar of Perth, ON; Beth Underhill of Schomberg, ON; and Nicole Walker of Aurora, ON have all received invitations. They will be joined by the top two finishers from the $125,000 Henry Equestrian Canadian Show Jumping Championship, held November 2 and 3, who are not already qualified.

The international show jumping division officially opens on Wednesday, November 6, and features the $37,000 Jolera International Welcome in the evening session. A sentimental favourite, the $85,000 ‘Big Ben’ International Challenge, highlights Thursday evening while the popular $50,000 Canadian Open International Challenge, presented by 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, is featured on Friday evening’s Royal Horse Show schedule.

Saturday afternoon, November 9, is Family Day, presented by McDonald’s, at the Royal Horse Show. The entertaining K9-Equine Challenge, presented by the Toronto Star, pairs show jumping horses with agility dogs to see who can complete their respective courses in the fastest time. In an unparalleled evening of horse sport, the $210,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto will bring down the curtain on closing night of the Royal Horse Show.

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit royalfair.org/horse-show.

Contact: Lindsay Brock
lindsay@jumpmediallc.com

McLain Ward Wins $384k Gary Sinise Foundation Grand Prix CSI 5* with Noche de Ronda

McLain Ward and Noche de Ronda ©Sportfot.

Mill Spring, NC – October 19, 2019 – It was another marquee win in Tryon for McLain Ward (USA) with Noche de Ronda after racing to win the $384,000 Gary Sinise Foundation Grand Prix CSI 5* at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) at Tryon Resort, halting the jump-off timers in 32.837 seconds. Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) piloted Armani SL Z, a 2008 Zangersheide gelding (Cumlaude Z x Cumano) owned by David & Monica Garza, to a close second with a jump-off performance of 32.994 seconds, while third-place honors went to Kristen VanderVeen (USA) and Bull Run’s Risen, a 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Utopie x Indoctro) owned by Bull Run Jumpers, Inc., who put in a 33.68-second jump-off ride to secure the podium finish.

The crown jewel of competitions held at TIEC every fall series, the $384,000 Gary Sinise Foundation Grand Prix CSI 5* was moved from 7pm to 2pm ahead of significant rain in the region, but the competition could not be dampened as 50 of the world’s best challenged the Guilherme Jorge (BRA) track. Twelve pairs qualified for the jump-off test, and following a blazing round from Garza Perez, Ward was last to go piloting the Bob Russell-owned 2009 Oldenburg mare (Quintender x Loves Corinth).

“I knew when I saw Eugenio’s time that it was a tough task. He’s a fast rider, on a very efficient horse that doesn’t waste time. My horse is a bit of a bigger, slower horse, so I knew I was going to need to use my stride,” Ward detailed. “For [fences] one, two, and three, it was a little bit on the extreme edge – a lesser horse probably would have crashed at fence three, but she’s got incredible scope. And then, I just tried to stay to the plan on the rest of the way home.

“I mean, it’s not even a half-inch difference; sometimes you come out on top and sometimes you’re second, and there’s no difference in the rounds, to be frank,” said Ward. “My week’s been a little slow – I had a time fault earlier in the week. It’s been very relaxing here – Tryon has always been very good to me. The horses have been jumping well, but we just haven’t been winning a lot of prizes. So, it was nice to turn that around today on the best day of the week!”

For Garza Perez, the rounds put on the board before him in the jump-off didn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that Ward would ride right behind him, he admitted:

“When you have that guy behind you, you kind of have to go all out! It doesn’t matter what horse he’s on. He could be on foot and he’s probably going to be faster than you! I tried to go as fast as possible and play to the strengths of my horse. [Armani SL Z] was phenomenal today, and I couldn’t have asked more of him,” Garza Perez relayed.

“For sure, I think it was a great decision to move the class forward – none of us want to get wet – and like McLain said, by the end of the class, the footing held up. It was fun to ride, and a tricky course. It’s been a great week here,” he continued. “We always like to come to Tryon these few weeks – the weather is amazing, the horses like it here, and it’s not too far from home – home being Wellington, [FL]. It’s a nice way to finish off the year – this will be the last show for us. It was fun.”

VanderVeen, who’s seen great success at the venue, particularly in CSI 5* competition, noted that her podium finish was a great way to cap a week of strong rides. “I always love spending time in Tryon – we spend a lot of time here. The week has been great: I’ve been very close in a few of the classes now, but not quite hitting, so it was great for everything to all come together tonight.”

To learn more, visit www.Tryon.com.