Week five of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) continued on Thursday with a victory for McLain Ward (USA) and Zander in the $33,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5. The duo won over Great Britain's Ben Maher riding Quiet Easy 4 and Peter Wylde (USA) aboard Lewin 5. Week five of the FTI WEF circuit, sponsored by Adequan®, runs February 6-10. The week will feature the the $82,000 Adequan® CSI 2* Grand Prix on Saturday evening and the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday afternoon. The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival features 12 weeks of competition running from January 9-March 31, 2013, and awards almost $7 million in prize money throughout the circuit.
Olympic course designer Bob Ellis is in charge of the jumper tracks in the International Arena for week five. For Thursday's WEF Challenge Cup class, Ellis saw 64 competitors in round one and had twelve entries jump clear to earn a return for the short course. Six of those jumped clear in round two to take the top prizes.
McLain Ward and Zander's winning time was 36.06 seconds, just edging out Ben Maher and Mrs. Phillips' Quiet Easy 4, who were first to attempt the short course and set the mark high with their pace of 36.21 seconds. Peter Wylde and Lewin 5, owned by Societe Civile de l'Ecurie Meautry, stopped the clock in 37.72 seconds to earn third place honors. Fourth went to Laura Kraut and Beverly Widdowson's Belmont in 38.23 seconds. Fifth place was awarded to Mario Deslauriers and Legacy Stables' Uraguay in 39.14 seconds, and the sixth place prize went to Ben Maher aboard Jane Clark's Urico in 39.75 seconds. Kent Farrington and Robin Parsky's Blue Angel had the fastest time of the day in 35.15 seconds, but one rail placed them in seventh.
McLain Ward's winning mount, Zander, is a nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Cantos x Saygon, owned by Ward and Grant Road Partners, LLC. The group purchased Zander a year and a half ago, but he did not get to show as much as planned last year when Ward injured his knee. He has now had some time to develop and Ward thinks he has great potential.
"Zander is a horse that Grant Road Partners and I bought as a young horse, a seven-year-old, with the hopes that he had a great future," Ward noted. "Obviously we were a little set back when we brought him to Florida last year as our first venture and then I got hurt. He lost a little bit of time, but maybe in hindsight that wasn't the worst thing in the world. In the summer he did very well. He won the grand prix at Old Salem and he won the small grand prix in Valkenswaard. He did some really nice things."
"We started out here week one in the grand prix and had a very unlucky four faults," Ward added. "He had a time fault in one grand prix. He has been very good and I think he is just putting the last few steps together. Grant Road Partners and I are very excited about his future."
Commenting on the jump-off, Ward detailed, "Ben didn't leave a lot in the jump-off. It is a fast horse, fast in the air, very careful. I didn't really know where I could catch him. Kent and I were speaking out in the schooling area and thought maybe we could do six up the first line, which was a great piece of advice because I walked it. Zander has a huge stride, so I was maybe able to cover the ground a little faster, but it was a hair. It wasn't much."
Ward has earned an impressive number of WEF Challenge Cup wins in his career and acknowledged that it has always been one of the toughest classes of the week. "I've been doing it a long time," he laughed. "They are unbelievably competitive classes. It's a very competitive, difficult class to win and it always has been, for however many years I have been doing them. It takes a hell of a horse to win these, so it is nice when you have a horse that can win, especially a young horse. It just shows what a great future they have."
In addition to the prize money for Thursday's class, a $12,000 bonus for the SSG "Go Clean for the Green" contest was also up for grabs. A $3,000 bonus is available each week if the winning rider is wearing the SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves in all rounds of competition with the SSG logo clearly visible. The bonus has gone unclaimed for four weeks now, and the winning rider of week six will have the chance to win $15,000 just for wearing SSG gloves.
Also showing in the International Arena on Thursday, Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm's Everly Chin de la Pomme won the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic. Emanuel Andrade and Hollow Creek Farm's Walter 61 also won in the Griffis Residential High Junior Jumpers.
Final Results: $33,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5
1. ZANDER: 2004 KWPN gelding by Cantos x Saygon
MCLAIN WARD (USA), McLain Ward/Grant Road Partners: 0/0/36.06
2. QUIET EASY 4: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Quidams Rubin x Zapateado
BEN MAHER (GBR), Mrs. Phillips: 0/0/36.21
3. LEWIN 5: 2002 Sächsisches Reitpferd gelding by Lewinski x Fidelio
PETER WYLDE (USA), Societe Civile de l'Ecurie Meautry: 0/0/37.72
4. BELMONT: 2001 Canadian Warmblood gelding by Ahorn OT x Landfriese II
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Beverly Widdowson: 0/0/38.23
5. URAGUAY: 2001 KWPN gelding by Nairobi x Colino
MARIO DESLAURIERS (USA), Legacy Stables, LLC: 0/0/39.14
6. URICO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Zandor Z x Fedor
BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane F. Clark: 0/0/39.75
7. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/4/35.15
8. ANTARES F: 2000 Württemberger gelding by Araconit x Cento
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Grand Road Partners: 0/4/40.65
9. LIGIST: 2000 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Levantos II x Robin Z
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/4/40.98
10. KING KOLIBRI: 2002 Hanoverian stallion by Kolibri x Achill-Libero H
LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 0/4/41.39
11. INSTANT KARMA: 2003 Irish Sport Horse mare by Courage II x Cruising
PAUL O'SHEA (IRL), Michael Hayden & Paul O'Shea: 0/4/45.59
12. AL CALYPSO: 2002 Hanoverian gelding by Askari x Calypso II
SAMUEL PAROT (CHL), Samuel Parot: 0/16/43.40
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