Week ten of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) continued on Thursday with a win for McLain Ward (USA) and Zander in the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 10. The win marks the 25th 'WEF Challenge Cup' victory for Ward over the years of his illustrious career.
Great Britain's Richard Jeffery set the track for Thursday's Challenge Cup competition that yielded 17 clear rounds of 85 starters in round one. Two entries opted out of the jump-off, and Jeffery saw eleven double clears out of 15 over the short course.
For his remarkable 25th WEF Challenge Cup victory, Ward guided his ten-year-old KWPN gelding Zander (Cantos x Saygon) to the winning time of 34.36 seconds, setting an uncatchable pace as the second entry in for the jump-off.
Try as she might, Lauren Hough (USA) was not quite quick enough to catch Ward's time with Ohlala, finishing second in 34.71 seconds. Ramiro Quintana (ARG) and St. Bride's Farm's Whitney finished third in 35.59 seconds. Kevin Babington (IRL) and Shorapur placed fourth in 35.64 seconds.
"I actually think sometimes in those big jump-offs, when you know there are going to be a lot of double clears and a lot of fast horses, that is not the worst thing when you know your horse," Ward said of going early. "The other night in the grand prix I went late, and I was trying to do something impossible. Today I just kind of rode my round. I know he is a quick horse. I had a few nail biting moments; Lauren was close, but it worked out in our favor."
"I have a very big stride. I think I have a bigger stride than Lauren (with Ohlala)," Ward detailed of his winning round. "I was able to do four strides to the skinny and then I had a good rollback. It showed up well. She lost her horse a little bit on the rollback, but it was a hair."
This is the first class that Zander has won during the 2014 season, but Ward feels like he is finishing out the winter well. "He had a little bit of a rough start to the circuit. He had a small injury and we were just a little behind, but the Nations Cup week he was great," Ward noted. "He was second in the WEF (that week) and had other good ribbons. The last three shows, he has been really solid and seems to be in pretty good form, so we will try to keep going in that direction."
Ward also commented on the difficult job for Richard Jeffery, who had 96 starters in the class originally (85 showed). "Richard did a good job," Ward acknowledged. "It is a tough thing. It is tough for the riders, and it is tough for the course designers. It's supposed to be a 3*, but you have 90 plus entries, and I thought it was smart. It was difficult, hard to jump a clear round. When they see 17 clear, they think it must have been easy, but 17 clear out of 96 isn't a very high percentage. He didn't over tax them as well, you didn't see a lot of large, large scores, so I thought he got it pretty good."
An $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m was also held on Thursday with a win for Eiken Sato (JPN) and Stephex Stables' Soory de l'Hallali. Jumper competition continues in the International Arena on Friday with the $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m.
Final Results: $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 10
1. ZANDER: 2004 KWPN gelding Cantos x Saygon
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/0/34.36
2. OHLALA: 2003 Swedish Warmblood mare by Orlando x Cardento
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), The Ohlala Group: 0/0/34.71
3. WHITNEY: 2003 KWPN mare by Indoctro x Concorde
RAMIRO QUINTANA (ARG), St. Bride's Farm: 0/0/35.59
4. SHORAPUR: 2005 Hanoverian mare by Stakkato Gold x Drosselklang II
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Shorapur LLC: 0/0/35.64
5. NOUVELLE: 2004 KWPN mare by Solitair x Contango
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Evita Group: 0/0/36.08
6. VINDICAT W: 2002 KWPN gelding by Guidam x Libero H
JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/0/36.39
7. FANANKA A: 2005 BWP mare by Chin Chin x Kannan
EIKEN SATO (JPN), Stephex Stables: 0/0/36.45
8. ATHENA: 2000 Swedish Sport Horse mare by Toulon x Capital
KELSEY THATCHER (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/0/36.56
9. ROUNDTHORN MADIOS: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Condios x Clover Hill
LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 0/0/36.84
10. JUVINA: 2001 Austrian Warmblood mare by Cassini I x Grannus
GEORGINA BLOOMBERG (USA), Gotham Enterprizes, LLC: 0/0/39.89
11. FREESTYLE DE MUZE: 2005 BWP gelding by Lord Z x Cento
RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 0/0/44.92
12. DIVA II: 2005 AES mare by Kannan x Berlioz
BEN MAHER (GBR), Liz Edgar: 0/4/37.16
Source: Press release from Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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