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McLain Ward and Rotchild win the Canadian Open

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Ward and Rotchild on their way to victory. Photo by mdunnphoto.comTwo-time Olympic Gold medalist McLain Ward took top honours with Rothchild Friday, in the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open. Topping the field of 20, Ward was the 13th to enter the ring, giving him plenty of time to watch, and strategise, before it was his turn to perform.

Harrie Smolders of the Netherlands was the first to attempt and execute an inside turn to the “CN Tower” wall jump, which would prove the key to winning here tonight. Smolders and Regina Z finally  finished in second behind Ward.

“Rothchild is kind of a small, bouncy horse who is pretty sure-footed,” explained Ward. “I knew I could do one less stride to the last jump, but I didn't know whether that would win it or lose it. I tried to stay on a nice, even pace everywhere - he is a quick horse - and obviously the inside turn to the wall was very difficult. But you knew that to win, you would have to do it. My horse was good to me and pulled it off.”

McLain Ward also commented on the course design and the crowd tonight, two things which inevitably have an impact on horse and rider. This week’s courses for the International Jumpers have been designed by Alan Wade of Ireland. “The crowd here is spectacular - it really perks him up and it perks ME up,” said Ward. “Not only is it a great, enthusiastic crowd but also a very horse-sport educated crowd.”

Top five:

1. McLain Ward / USA / Rothchild / 63.58
2. Harrie Smolders / NED / Regina Z / 64.56
3. Laura Kraut / USA / Tierra / 66.57
4. Conor Swail / IRE / Lansdowne / 67.33
5. Margie Engle / USA / Lord Spezi / 71.21

Earlier in the day, the Royal made a very special announcement regarding their FEI World Cup Grand Prix: that they had received confirmation from the FEI to re-name the class in honour of the passing of Eric Lamaze’s Olympic gold medal partner Hickstead. From now on, the class will be named the FEI Hickstead World Cup Grand Prix.

Eric Lamaze wished to express his sincere gratitude; "I am honoured that the Royal would name the World Cup Grand Prix after Hickstead," said Eric Lamaze.  Lamaze added, "I would also like to thank everyone at the Royal and all of the fans for their warm welcome this week.  It really meant a lot to have their support."

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