Rising beneath the pressure of big prize money in front of a packed house under picture-perfect weather conditions, Mclain Ward and HH Carlos Z, owned by Double H Farm, were flawless to win the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix, presented by The Kincade Group. The event capped two weeks of exciting competition at Old Salem Farm, and Ward’s domination secured him the blue in every grand prix offering, as well as an unchallenged acceptance of the $20,000 Leading Jumper Rider Award.
HH Carlos Z went two-for-two during the second week of competition at Old Salem Farm with a win in Friday’s $35,000 Grand Prix of North Salem, presented by Karina Brez Jewelry, before topping 40 in Sunday afternoon’s marquee event. Ireland’s Alan Wade set the course for the Empire State Grand Prix and saw 11 advance through the first round without fault for a competitive jump-off.
The lead changed hands several times in the jump-off after Kirsten Coe and Baronez got things started for owners Lovsta Stuteri, Tal Milstein and Ilan Ferder with a clear effort in 40.510 seconds. Ward, Quentin Judge, and Beezie Madden all took their turns at the top, but it was Ward’s trip on 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding HH Carlos Z in 38.378 seconds that rose above. Madden, who held the lead for several trips, settled for second in the irons of Abigail Wexner’s Cortes ‘C’ with a time of 39.002 seconds.
Ward, along with fellow rider Quentin Judge, piloted four Double H Farm mounts over the short track, maintaining the barn’s dominance of The Grand Prix Field at Old Salem Farm over the past two weeks. Ward was third with young mount HH Azur in 39.480 seconds, and Judge took fourth with HH Whisky Royale with a time of 40.044 seconds. Coe’s time landed her in fifth.
With two horses in the jump-off, HH Carlos Z batted clean-up for Ward returning second-to-last and stealing the lead from Madden and Cortes ‘C’. “To be honest, I thought I had done enough on [HH] Azur – she had a spectacular round and did the distances easy,” he said of the nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare who carried him to a win last week in the $50,000 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix, presented by The Kincade Group. “I was thrilled with the mare and Carlos is lightening fast and very careful, so it was worth taking a shot. He’s an awesome little horse.”
Prior to the start of the class, the buzz on the sidelines was about Wade’s water placement. The water came early at fence three and led to a plank vertical. Ward, however, appreciated the challenge. “It was a great class and that was a good test,” he said. “This water is not massive and at this level it shouldn’t be massive – it’s more of an introduction to the water, but at the same time to have it that early you really test the horse’s rideability. Obviously, the horses that are better schooled at the water and on the flat are going to deal with that test better.”
Despite another win on his more experienced mount, Ward couldn’t control his excitement about the future for his up-and-coming horses. HH Azur, his third-place ride, didn’t pull a single rail throughout her entire two weeks at Old Salem Farm, and Ward is confident she is going places. “I’m very excited about the future with her. The way she jumped today, any day is going to be a good day on her,” he said.
Hailing only a couple miles down the road from Old Salem Farm in Brewster, NY, Ward played the part of home-town hero with Sunday’s win. “This is my home crowd, and I love their support,” he concluded. “This is a special place for me and my family.”
Final Results: $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix, presented by The Kincade Group
1 HH CARLOS Z MCLAIN WARD DOUBLE H FARM 0/0/38.378
2 CORTES ‘C’ BEEZIE MADDEN ABIGAIL WEXNER 0/0/39.002
3 HH AZUR MCLAIN WARD DOUBLE H FARM 0/0/39.480
4 HH WHISKY ROYALE QUENTIN JUDGE DOUBLE H FARM 0/0/40.044
5 BARONEZ KIRSTEN COE LOVSTA STUTERI, TAL MILSTEIN, ILAN FERDER 0/0/40.510
6 VENICE SYDNEY SHULMAN JILL SHULMAN 0/4/39.302
7 HH QUATUOR QUENTIN JUDGE DOUBLE H FARM 0/4/40.505
8 CONTIKI NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO WEMBLY FARM, COKER FARM, WATERSHED 0/4/41.585
9 NICE DE PRISSEY BRIANNE GOUTAL REMARKABLE FARMS, 0/8/41.125
10 QUIDAM 13 SYDNEY SHULMAN JILL SHULMAN 0/8/41.573
11 CALENO 3 GEORGINA BLOOMBERG GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES, LLC 0/12/40.418
12 ZANDER BEAT MANDLI GRANT ROAD PARTNERS, LLC 1/90.193
Souce: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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