NORTH SALEM, N.Y.--U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., rode Noche de Ronda, a new and promising mare in his string, to win the $10,000 Old Salem Farm Speed Stake CSI3* on Wednesday, May 15, at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows.
In the hunter ranks, Playmaker, ridden by Hannah Isop and owned by JT Farm, was named Grand Hunter Champion during World Champion Hunter Rider Week.
The speed of 30 horses was tested over tracks designed by Ken Krome with 11 finishing clear over the fences.
Ward’s time of 64.24 seconds was more than a full second faster than his student Adrienne Sternlicht, who finished the runner-up in 65.37 seconds riding Pembroke, owned by Starlight Farms.
“Maarten Huygens found this horse for me and we purchased her during the winter season in Florida,” said Ward of the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Ward, Bob Russell and Marilla van Beuren. “Marilla is a lifelong horsewoman and dear friend of my family who really wanted to own a nice grand prix horse.
“THE MARE is still not fully developed, but we are bringing her along and Manuel Lecuona of Mexico did a very nice job producing her and jumped her up to the 1.45m grand prix level,” said Ward, 43. “She’s a huge jumper and I think she can jump anything, so I have high hopes for her to be a very successful grand prix horse. Today, I was really thinking about teaching her to turn and move along. She has a big stride and the distances were just showing up nice.”
Ward hails just down the road from Old Salem Farm and has experienced much success at the venue, but also considers it a cherished part of the local community.
“Old Salem Farm is a spectacular property and the Hakim Family has done a wonderful job developing it to what it once was and much more,” he said. “To have something like this right down the road is particularly special for me and this area.”
Rounding out the top three in the first international event of the week, Natalie Dean rode Don’s Diamant to a time of 65.48 seconds. Georgina Bloomberg, whose own Gotham North is based in North Salem, was fourth on Quibelle in 66.73 seconds, while Lauren Tisbo finished fifth on Casco 11 in 66.99 seconds.
AFTER SUPERB catch rides from Hannah Isop of Pawling, N.Y., Playmaker, owned by JT Farm based in South Salem, received the Grand Hunter Champion title during the stiff competition of World Championship Hunter Rider Week at Old Salem Farm.
“I got a very lucky phone call from owner Ellen Toon this week!” said Isop, who had not sat on the horse before the start of this week’s horse show. “He’s an impressive horse so I wasn’t surprised at all with his results. His jump gives you a great feeling, but he is very straight forward and I was happy to be able to go in and give him a nice ride and let him show off.”
An injury at the end of the 2017 season sidelined Playmaker for a year, but he made his return to the show ring this spring and is back on top.
The 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Cassini swept the over fences classes in the 3’3” Performance Hunter Division to earn Grand Hunter honors and will compete in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Division later in the week with Toon riding.
“We brought him back slowly and spent a lot of time on the flat to make sure he was comfortable,” said Toon of the horse’s recovery. “Hannah was fabulous with him this week and my husband Jimmy has done an amazing job bringing him back.
“I am really excited because he is a super nice horse and a beautiful jumper,” continued Toon. “He comes into the ring and catches your eye from the start.”
From Wednesday’s professional hunter divisions, the $5,000 Voltaire Designs Leading Hunter Rider title was won by Holly Orlando.