McLain Ward Wins $100,000 National Horse Show Grand Prix Jumping Champion
Wellington, FL - December 9, 2007 - Eleven years ago this month in Wellington, McLain Ward lost the AGA Championships when he had one time fault and Margie Engle was the only clear round in the class. In this year's $100,000 National Horse Show Grand Prix FEI World Cup(TM) Qualifier, that situation was exactly reversed. On his new phenom Phillipa, Ward was the only clear round to win the class. Engle and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold finished second with one time fault, while Keean White (CAN) and Vienna Rouge were third with two time faults.
The fastest four-faulter was Kent Farrington on Up Chiqui. His finish today was added to his second place finish in Friday night's grand prix to give him victory in the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship, presented by Equine Motorcoach.
Today's course was a tough track and much more difficult that Friday night's grand prix. Designed by Pierre Jolicouer of Wellington, it featured 14 numbered obstacles including a very complicated triple combination and two option jumps at the end of the course. There were six riders that did not accumulate time faults, and there were five retirements and an elimination. "I guess the course was a little awkward, especially at the end here with option fences like that," Farrington said. "With the time being that tight, I don't think too many riders opted for anything other than the right oxer to the plank."
Ward explained, "I think this was considerably tougher, more technical, and considerably bigger (than Friday). Today was back to normal and was back to real grand prix jumping. As you saw, the more experienced and top horse-rider combinations rose to the top and the ones who slid through on Friday night were called into question today."
Lauren Hough and Quick Study started the class with an unlucky rail at fence two. They flew around the course to make the time allowed and finished in 87.82, just two-tenths below the time allowed of 88 seconds. White and Vienna Rouge were fault-free jumping, but they accumulated two time faults in 92.23 seconds to finish in the third spot.
Ward rode out of the eighth spot in the order. He and Phillipa made the course look easier, and Ward would have to wait and see if anyone could duplicate his performance.
"She's not very experienced, but she really is a phenomenal talent," Ward said of his mount. "It's kind of exciting because obviously Sapphire is still ready for the Olympics this year and to have this horse coming along really gives me a great one-two punch."
Six horses later, Engle was so close to making a jump-off happen. She and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold were feet above every jump, and as she rounded the turn to the last two jumps, Engle knew it would be close. She just missed a clear round by one-tenth of a second, finishing in 88.11 seconds for one time fault.
"I knew I was close," Engle admitted. "I always have to watch the time with that horse; he's a little bit of a hard horse to be quick with. Most of the long gallops were to careful verticals and with him I have to slow up a bit to verticals. After the triple, I tried to gallop up as much as I could to the oxer, and to the last plank, I had to balance up there. I tried to hug the turns as much as I could on the ends. Even when I started it, I knew it was going to be close. Even naturally faster horses were close to the time and after watching them, I knew I was going to be close."
Farrington and Up Chiqui were another pair that could threaten Ward, but it was not to be when Farrington had a rail at jump 13. His time of 84.27 seconds, however, was fast enough to put him into fourth place and secure his title of national champion.
"I felt bad because my horse really jumped his heart out today. I made a mistake at the end. He was jumping incredible and felt like he was going to win, so I felt like I let him down," Farrington commented. "Coming around the corner after the in and out, I was thinking a little about the time instead of just riding my round. I got a little bit anxious at the oxer. When I went to move up, he was split second behind my leg, and it just got too far away. I was disappointed in myself, more than anything. I'm thrilled that I won (the national championship). It's great for us to have a national championship and it's an honor to win. It doesn't really make up for that mistake (though)."
Ward has won grand prix events before without a jump-off, and was certainly not disappointed that there was no second round. "There were a few at the end that I was nervous about. I was at the gate when Kent was turning the corner here, and my heart was beating hard because he was more than likely going to have a clear round. He's a real pain in the neck in a jump-off," he joked. "It's certainly nice when the day's work can be a little shorter. Winning is winning, whether with or without a jump-off."
Winning the grand prix today and not winning the national championship was a bit of a disappointment however. "I'm thrilled that Kent won the national championship. It's a very prestigious award, and he deserves it as much as anybody. I certainly was trying to win that and it was a little disappointing not to have done that. As I always say, consistency is the most important thing and he proved that," Ward said.
Ward and Engle recalled the 1996 AGA Championships, when Engle won as the only clear round and Ward had one time fault. "I thanked her (this time)!" he quipped, while Engle fired back, "This was his wedding present. No, I'm just kidding!" Ward, who married three weeks ago, leaves for his honeymoon tomorrow morning. "It's a nice way to end the year," he smiled.
Final Results: $100,000 NATIONAL SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIP CSI-W
Horse, Rider, Owner, Faults, Time
1. PHILLIPA, MCLAIN WARD, SAGAMORE FARMS, 0/86.570
2. HIDDEN CREEK'S QUERVO GOLD, MARGIE ENGLE, HIDDEN CREEK FARM, 1/88.110
3. VIENNA ROUGE, KEEAN WHITE, ANGELSTONE FARMS/LINDA RATCLIFF, 2/92.230
4. UP CHIQUI, KENT FARRINGTON, ALEX BOONE/JAMES MCNERNEY/CRAIG DOBBS, 4/84.270
5. CRELIDO, MICHAEL MORRISSEY, EUGENE R. MISCHE, 4/86.520
6. QUICK STUDY, LAUREN HOUGH, LAURA and MEREDITH MATEO, 4/87.820
7. VANCOUVER D'AUVREY, DANIELLE TORANO, SIR RULY, 5/88.830
8. NARCOTIQUE DE MUZE II, ERIC LAMAZE, ASHLAND STABLES, 5/89.380
9. CARLOS BOY, KEN BERKLEY, KRISTA and ALEXA WEISMAN,5/89.990
10. QUINCY B, HILLARY DOBBS, HILLARY DOBBS and THE DOBBS GROUP, 8/86.080
Photo Credit: Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui, Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Champions. Phillipa and McLain Ward, winners of the $100,000 National Horse Show Grand Prix, CSI-W. Photo (C) 2007 Randi Muster. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.
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