McLain Ward (USA) and the powerful black stallion Super Trooper de Ness emerged victorious in the $50,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12 on Thursday, March 28, as part of the twelfth and final week of competition at the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, Ward topped U.S. riders Charlie Jacobs, Christine McCrea and Reed Kessler to round out the top four in the international field.
The final round of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series featured 40 horse and rider combinations on Thursday afternoon. Ireland's Alan Wade designed the course, and seven went clear to advance to the tie breaking jump-off. The challenging track for the short course saw five entries jump without fault with an unbeatable round set forth by McLain Ward and Grant Road Partners' Super Trooper de Ness in the winning time of 34.82 seconds.
Ward and the eleven-year-old Belgian Sport Horse stallion (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Polydor) have had a fantastic circuit with many top finishes. They began with a win in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jumpers during week two and moved up to top the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic later that same week. They also won the $43,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup during week eight, among other top finishes. With this week's win to cap off an excellent winter season, Ward praised course designer Alan Wade for the great track in Thursday's class.
"Alan Wade is my favorite course designer in the world," Ward asserted. "I think he is phenomenal; I think he is a horseman. I am a huge fan of his because I think he really thinks about not only the challenge that he is setting for us and how to get the right result, but also how it affects all of us. I think his courses are smooth and I think they allow you to ride well, and if you ride well and smooth, you are rewarded."
Ward was definitely rewarded for his excellent ride in Thursday's class. Although he admits to not having the smoothest round in the jump-off, Super Trooper put in a fantastic effort. When Charlie Jacobs and CMJ Sporthorse LLC's Flaming Star blazed an amazing pace in 36 seconds right before their round, Ward and Super Trooper went in and immediately stole the lead.
"It is getting to the point at this level that even with a horse with this much quality, you don't believe they can go as fast as they are going even when you are doing it," Ward declared. "Charlie is a really competitive guy. He did six strides from fence one to two, which walked eight, so six strides off a triple bar away from home was pretty incredible. I saw that and I thought, 'no, I don't like that', but my competitive nature always gets the best of me. I say, 'ok, I have to do it to win', and something clicks."
"I got the first jump right and for four strides I was going for six and then I realized 'this is not happening'," Ward laughed. "I took a very severe half-halt, and it wasn't textbook, but the horse really helped me out to jump the second fence clean. Then he finished up the jump-off great. He jumped spectacular and it came our way."
Final Results: $50,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12
1. SUPER TROOPER DE NESS: 2002 Belgian Sport Horse stallion by Vigo d'Arsouilles x Polydor
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/0/34.82
2. FLAMING STAR: 1999 AES gelding by Fairman x Unknown
CHARLIE JACOBS (USA), CMJ Sporthorse LLC: 0/0/36.00
3. WANNICK WH: 2003 KWPN stallion by Heartbreaker x Joost
CHRISTINE MCCREA(USA), Candy Tribble: 0/0/38.24
4. CYLANA: 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/0/38.42
5. AVENZIO 3: 1999 KWPN gelding by Animo x Erdball xx
TAIZO SUGITANI (JPN), Yvonne Young: 0/0/38.71
6. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/3/52.30
7. EVITA VAN DE VELDBALIE: 2004 Belgian Warmblood mare by Wandor vd Mispelaere x Clinton
DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex Stables: 0/12/37.07
8. LANSDOWNE: 2003 KWPN stallion by Guidam x Wolfgang
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ariel & Susan Grange: 1/79.68
9. CARISMA: 2002 Danish Warmblood mare by Willemoes x Racot
EMILIE MARTINSEN (DEN), Emilie Martinsen: 2/83.22
10. SHOW SHOW: 2002 BWP gelding by Darco x Royal Fleu
ALVARO DE MIRANDA (BRA), RD Jumping Higher Ltda: 4/72.52
11. MIKA: 2000 Selle Francais gelding by Nidor Platiere x Rubis Rouge
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 4/76.37
12. RONALDO: 1998 KWPN gelding by Ahorn x Stuyvesant
CARLOS RIBAS (BRA), Roberto Villa Real Jr. & Carlos Ribas: 4/77.63
Source: Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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