NORTH SALEM, N.Y.--Five-time U.S. Olympian McLain Ward, following up his gold medal winning Nations Cup and Grand Prix performances in California, had two consecutive victories in the Old Salem Farm International Arena.
In the afternoon’s $65,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem, Ward was last to go in the jump-off and used that position to his full advantage, riding Quimi Del Maset to win in a blistering time of 35.740 seconds.
Ireland’s Alan Wade designed a technical 16-effort track set at 1.50m for the $65,000 Welcome Stake that resulted in faults scattered around the course with delicate jumps and a tight time allowed of 74 seconds.
Of the 47 competitors representing 11 countries in the class, only nine were clean in the first round.
Each rider finished faster than the last in the jump-off, until Hunter Holloway finished in 36.260 seconds on Pepita Con Spita, the mare on which she won the bronze medal at the World Cup Jumping Finals in April.
HER LEAD held through the following two competitors, but then Ward shaved off half a second by leaving out strides and making tighter turns.
“This was a very exciting win for this horse,” Ward said. “I have a great group at Sport Four behind me who helped purchase him in December from Daniel Bedoya, a Bolivian who’s based in Texas. We were very lucky to acquire him with the goal of championships in mind. We took our time with him in Florida this winter, and he’s won several classes we’ve entered, including another 1.50m. This is his next biggest start, and I’m very excited about his future.”
Holloway and Pepita Con Spita ultimately finished in second place, just 0.190 seconds ahead of third placed Amanda Derbyshire of Great Britain on Otto BH, clean in 36.450 seconds,
“The track today was difficult and made for a very strong 4*,” said Ward, who is not only a competitor but also the Co-Chair of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows. “We have a very strong group of horses and riders competing, which is great to see. Old Salem Farm and a lot of the local people here made great efforts to make this show as spectacular as it is, and it’s great to see this level of competition come up here. I hope to see this event continue in this direction and provide some great sport in the years to come.”
Earlier in the day, 56 entries representing 10 countries contested the $25,000 Old Salem Farm National 1.40-1.45m Jumper Classic, which featured a sweeping Alan Wade-designed course over 15 jumping efforts.
The second-to-last of 18 contenders to return for the jump-off, Ward had his first win of the day, clean in 35.718 seconds on a catch ride, Cedric 84, usually ridden by Peter Leone.
“He’s a lovely horse,” Ward said. “I’ve gotten to see him do very well with Peter over the years. Unfortunately, Peter had a minor injury last week, and he asked me to take up the ride on Tuesday. Although the first time I sat on this horse was Wednesday, he’s very straightforward and can be ridden in a very classical way, so it wasn’t a difficult task. I think that’s a testament to Peter’s training; you can ride the horse in a correct, classical way and get a predictably great result.”
Ward on Cedric 84 was 1.5 seconds faster than second placed Philip McGuane of Ireland on Orphea HQ, clean in 37.227 seconds., with the second through fifth placings all separated by just half a second.
Derbyshire on Wonder If finished third, clean in 37.505.