The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) began its fifth week of competition on Wednesday with a win for two-time U.S. Olympic Team Gold Medalist McLain Ward and his mount, Wings, in the $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m speed class. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Cyklon 1083 led the way through a large part of the class, but were bested by Ward and Wings at the very end and finished in second place.
Week five of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, sponsored by Rolex, runs February 5-9, 2014. The week will feature CSI-W 5* competition, including the $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 on Thursday afternoon, the $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m on Friday, the $370,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix FEI CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex on Saturday night, and the $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday afternoon. The FTI WEF, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.
Great Britain's Robert Ellis is the course designer in the International Arena at PBIEC for week five. Ellis set the track for 67 entries in the $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m speed class with 17 clear rounds on course. McLain Ward and Wings got the win with a time of 58.82 seconds.
Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm LLC's Cyklon 1083 finished second in 59.04 seconds. Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Postage Stamp Farm LLC's Prof de la Roque placed third in 59.26 seconds, and Peter Wylde (USA) finished fourth in 60.52 seconds aboard Winley Farm's Wiesielottie.
Ward had an extra token of good luck in his pocket for Wednesday's class in the form of a small crystal that he had been given by Canada's Tiffany Foster. He has had some top finishes over the last few weeks, but kept having an unlucky rail that kept him out of the winner's circle. As Ward left the arena after his win, he pulled the crystal out of his pocket, stopping for a photo with Foster. The crystal just may have had a positive effect.
"We had a little inside joke," Ward laughed. "Tiffany says I never smile, so she gave me a crystal the other day and she said it would bring happiness. I have won two out of three classes since I have had it, so we are all giving the credit to the crystal."
Ward has had some great rounds with his veteran mount Wings, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding by Lexicon x Columbus, and was happy to finally get the win with him on Wednesday. "He has just been a little unlucky," Ward acknowledged. "He has had a little 'four-fault-itis,' but he has been jumping really well. He has had the fastest time in two other big classes with some cheap four faults. He is a good old horse. He knows the job. He's careful, and he is always fun to ride."
It seemed like the time of Shane Sweetnam and Cyklon 1083 might not be beat as the class went on, but Ward and Wings put their experience together and did it with ease. "He is a very fast horse," Ward described. "He has a big stride, and he is quite quick. I just tried to be really neat everywhere. I was fast from jump one to two, and he just covers the ground very easily. He doesn't waste much time."
"He is a funny horse," Ward said of Wings. "He is what they call 'ever green' if you ever saw it. He is afraid of everything, and he is 16 years old now."
"I bought him actually last year for my wife and he ended up being a little too careful for her, and I kind of took over the ride. The first two shows didn't go very well and since then he has won a class at almost every show he has gone to, so I am not giving him back," Ward laughed. "He is a little quirky, a little spooky, he is a little bit his own character, but he has quality, which always pays off."
Ward commented on Bob Ellis's course, noting, "I like Bob's courses. They typically can be a little twisty, so you need a very rideable horse, but he is very good and this is a big week. It was right on height, which is what you would expect. We are trying to make a plan with these bigger shows and have the horses come in fresh and ready to compete, so it was a nice start."
A $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class was also held on Wednesday with a win for Yann Candele (CAN) and Carolla Z, owned by Liz Currie.
Week five of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue on Thursday with the $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 in the International Arena. For full results, go to www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m
1. WINGS: 1998 KWPN gelding by Lexicon x Columbus
MCLAIN WARD (USA), McLain Ward: 0/58.82
2. CYKLON 1083: 2001 Swedish Warmblood stallion by Cardento x Cortus
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm LLC: 0/59.04
3. PROF DE LA ROQUE: 2003 Selle Francais gelding by Kannan x Damiro B
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Postage Stamp Farm LLC: 0/59.26
4. WIESIELOTTIE: 2003 KWPN mare by Rash R x Burggraaf
PETER WYLDE (USA), Winley Farm: 0/60.52
5. CAPALL ZIDANE: 2004 KWPN gelding by Concorde x Baloubet du Rouet
RONAN MCGUIGAN (IRL), Ronan McGuigan: 0/60.67
6. AD AMIGO B: 2005 KWPN stallion by Tadmus x Hearbreaker
ALVARO DE MIRANDA (BRA), Victory Equestrian Sport BV & Alvaro de Miranda: 0/60.71
7. UBRIS: 2004 Holsteiner mare by Caretino x Corrado I
SARAH SEGAL (USA), Chartwell: 0/63.06
8. SPECIAL LUX: 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Lux Z x Coille Mor Hill
JONATHAN MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/63.27
9. BONITO R: 2005 Hanoverian gelding by El Bonito x Rhytmo
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Stars and Stripes: 0/64.02
10. VALINSKI S: 2002 KWPN gelding by Nikinski x Julius
MICHAEL DORMAN (USA), Wyndmont: 0/64.92
11. WHITNEY: 2003 KWPN mare by Indoctro x Concorde
RAMIRO QUINTANA (ARG), St. Bride's Farm: 0/65,58
12. EVERY WAY: 2004 Belgian Warmblood mare by Upsilon van de Heffinck x Beach Boy
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Belle Grey Farm: 0/66.24
Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions
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