McLain Ward and Quinta 106.
West Palm Beach, FL (February 3, 2017) – The pristine all-weather arenas at Jim Brandon Equestrian Center once again played host to some of show jumping’s top names during the final week of January, with two of the USA’s top Olympic riders jumping to victory over courses set by FEI Level 3 Designer Mark McGowan. Friday and Saturday’s $15,000 RV Sales of Broward 1.40 and 1.45m Grand Prix highlighted 5 days of hunter and jumper competition, with divisions ranging from Teeny Tiny Jumpers, 6- and 7-Year-Old Jumpers, Take 2 Thoroughbred Jumpers, and .65-1.35m Jumpers. Endless class offerings, spacious warm-ups, and exceptional footing and courses define The Ridge Palm Beach Series, tempting even the Olympians to come fine-tune their synergy in a stress-free environment.
3-Time Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward Goes 1, 2 in Saturday’s 1.45m Grand Prix
With one veteran mare and another fresh out of quarantine from Germany, US Olympian McLain Ward reiterated his versatility as a rider and skill in maximizing a horse’s potential in Saturday’s 1.45m Grand Prix. Kicking off the class with Quinta 106, Ward guided his new ride over the course with the ease, speed, and precision that have become his trademark. The fast but conservative double clear finished with a jump-off time of 36.566 and the lead, impressive for a horse not yet on American soil for a full week.
With established Grand Prix competitor Tina La Boheme, Ward put in another direct but conservative double clear, taking over his own lead from Quinta 106 with a final jump-off time of 35.865. The bay Selle Francais mare, who was an extremely successful campaign horse for Ward over the past year, jumped with the alacrity and expression that comes from a long break and Ward stated he is pointing both horses at the FEI ring later in the season.
“Tina is just getting back in the arena after a rest and Quinta only just arrived from quarantine on Tuesday,” said Ward of his two horses and his rides at The Ridge. “It’s a nice quiet atmosphere for the horses and allows riders to focus, and the courses and footing are good. It was a legit 1.45m today, but because of the reduced numbers, elements like the time allowed are a little more straightforward and I think for preparing horses for bigger things down the road that’s a big help. For Tina, I wanted to jump big to get her back in top form but didn’t want to take her to the FEI ring just yet, and Quinta and I are in just the first few shows of our partnership so we are just trying to figure out what she is all about. This is also a great event for young and advancing Grand Prix riders and horses, to get basic experience at this level but with enough of a challenge to allow them to develop.”
Quite a few top competitors chased after Ward’s first and second place standings, including Lauren Fischer and My Pleasure and the husband-wife team of Ireland’s Jonathan McCrea and the USA’s Christine McCrea. A last minute rally from Manual Fernandez Hache and Al Calypso boosted him into third behind Ward, bumping Fischer and the McCreas to 4th, 5th, and 6th.
Callan Solem and VDL Torlando Top Friday’s 1.40m Grand Prix
England, Ireland, and the USA had a tight battle for the lead during Friday’s 1.40m Grand Prix, with barely a second separating the top three finishers. With a line-up once again featuring some of the top Olympic and international riders from around the world, USA’s Callan Solem and her veteran partner VDL Torlando rose to the top of the pack.
Choosing to utilize The Ridge’s open in-gate policy, Solem and Torlando went later in the day, using the time to their advantage. The scopey gray went double clear and with a final jump-off time of 38.937, stole the top spot from Jonathan McCrea and D Carolus with a 39.234. Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Maher and his two rides, Aristo Z and Tic Tac, sat third and fifth in the final results, while Audrey Robison and the spunky Gorky slipped into 4th between Maher’s two international mounts with a 40.628.
Solem, whose exceptional riding was indicative of her passion for both her horse and the sport, was also awarded the EQUO Stylish Rider Award for her winning performance. Presented with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot from EQUO and a special edition Palm Beach Series belt from Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks from Nona Garson, Solem’s excitement about the win was evident.
“I just love this horse,” said Solem of Torlando, a gelding she has owned and ridden for ten years. “He’s my best friend and he is the most serious about show jumping of any horse I’ve owned. He treats every show like it’s the Olympics, and it was fantastic to bring him somewhere a little different. This week was our first time here this year, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for the horses to get out and jump with a little less pressure and stress. It’s a great venue to practice being very competitive, or to try out a new riding style or piece of tack. It’s very representative of proper show jumping and the footing was perfect.”
Ridge Riders Win Big in Pony Jumper, Children’s/Adult, and Jr./A-O Divisions
Week 4 also crowned numerous Champion and Reserve Champion honors, as well as saw a number of the future generation of Grand Prix riders in its leadline and Teeny Tiny Jumper classes. A full hunter division runs alongside the Palm Beach Series each week at Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, and a rich offering of both prize money and prizes highlights the circuit. From $200-$400 gift certificates from US Animo to the end of circuit prize of a brand new jumper saddle courtesy of Southern Stars Saddlery, riders and horses leave The Ridge Palm Beach Series with far more than just ribbons!
For full results for Palm Beach Series Weeks 1-4, visit www.TheRidgeFarm.com/Results.