On Friday, McLain Ward of Brewster, New York, was named the Longines world number one. He has spent the last week competing at the historic Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, and on Saturday night he captured his third victory, winning the $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake aboard Tina La Boheme.
Six entries advanced to the jump-off in the highlight event of the evening sponsored by Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar. Laura Chapot set the pace to beat with her first mount Thornhill Kate, clearing the track in 37.082 seconds. Her lead was short lived, as Ward entered the arena aboard Tina La Boheme, who has proven to be a dominating force in the Dixon Oval. The pair was four seconds faster and left all the rails intact, crossing the finish line in 33.906 seconds.
Only Chapot was able to beat the initial time she clocked, beating her first mount's time on Quointreau Un Prince. The duo had a faultless time of 36.660 seconds to place second, while she and Thornhill Kate took third. The fourth place prize went to Danielle Torano and Callas III, the only other pair to clear the short course.
With a quick and clear double clear, Ward not only won the $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake, but also earned the Open Jumper Championship with Tina La Boheme and the Leading Open Jumper Rider title.
"We're obviously very excited," said Ward. "I think Tina has won her last four classes in a row. It's really great to see how she's progressing. At the end of Palm Beach and even Old Salem, when I stepped her up to some bigger classes I had to kind of help her a long a little bit. She was a very good jumper, but she was green. It's interesting to see her come out of that show at Old Salem and be very handy in this ring and start to follow where I am going. That's what makes a horse fast, they look for the next fence. We are really excited about her. We'll keep our fingers crossed for the future."
Ward has been competing since he was just 5-years-old in the Leadline division. Now, he is the top ranked rider in the world. "It's a great recognition of consistent success because our peers are so good now," explained Ward. "The top of the sport now is so good and so competitive, so I am proud of that. I can't say that was ever a goal. The goal has always been championships and medals and the biggest grand prix events in the world. The honor in that is amongst your peers."
After placing second and third in Saturday's main event, the Carol Hoffman Thompson Leading Lady Rider Challenge Trophy was presented to Laura Chapot, who also earned the title in 2014.
"This is one of our favorite horse shows, and I think this is one of the most important shows in the country," noted Chapot. "They really raised the bar this year with added prize money and making it an FEI competition. To be the leading lady rider here is certainly very prestigious, and I am so proud to win the trophy that is donated by Carol's family. She was a great friend to us. I'm really thrilled to have won it again."
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group // Picture © The Book, LLC
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