Spruce Meadows held its $83,000 Investors Group Cup 1.50m competition on Saturday afternoon with another win for USA's McLain Ward at the 'Pan American' Tournament CSI 5*. Ward took the top two places, winning aboard Zander and finishing second with HH Carlos Z. The rider has had a fantastic tournament to conclude the summer at Spruce Meadows and looks forward to competing Rothchild in Sunday's final $400,000 Pan American Cup presented by Rolex.
International course designer Uliano Vezzani (ITA) has set some difficult tracks in the fifth week of competition at Spruce Meadows' Summer Series. His courses have put all of the horses and riders to the test, but Ward and his talented mounts have been nearly unstoppable. After winning Friday's $33,500 Ashcor Technologies Cup 1.55m, Double H Farm's HH Carlos Z jumped to the second place finish in Saturday's Investors Group Cup. Ward and Grant Road Partners LLC's Zander jumped the only double clear to take victory.
Vezzani got four clear rounds out of 47 that competed to advance to the jump-off. For most of the competition, it looked like Ward might be the only rider to qualify for the short course with clear rounds aboard both of his two mounts, but two more advanced in the end. Ward was first to go in the jump-off with the ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Zander (Canots x Saygon), clearing the track in 37.06 seconds. He followed shortly after with HH Carlos Z to finish with four faults in 38.62 seconds.
Also jumping off, Santiago Lambre (MEX) had an unfortunate stop with Skovlundegaards Cassius to incur four jumping faults and three additional time faults, finishing third in 47.94 seconds. Leslie Howard (USA) completed the jump-off track with a 22-fault total aboard Moormann, Rolf u. Paul Schockemohle's Balboa 6 to place fourth.
Commenting on a fantastic few days and a great summer of competition altogether, Ward smiled, "I am thrilled. It is really a testament to Lee McKeever and the management, everybody in the stable, because they keep the horses healthy and fresh. It really shows at week five, if you look at the results, what a great job they do."
"The horses really felt great today and it was a very difficult course," Ward pointed out. "I thought we were going to have it easy for a moment there, but we had to do a little more work, and it all worked out okay. I thought it walked very difficult. I was thrilled with the way Zander went. He went clear, and at the time I didn't think there would be a lot of clears. I don't know if I thought four, but I did not think there would be a lot. I thought it was a real challenging test."
Although it did not end up happening today, Ward said that he has been the only rider to qualify for a jump-off with more than one horse before. He explained that if the other two had not come along, he would have saved his horses for another day. "I probably would not have jumped off. I would have tied the two horses," he stated. "You don't need to risk the horses. It doesn't make any sense, but it wasn't a question in the end. We had two more clear, but it actually was not a bad position to be in. I could go in and set the pace. I made a little mistake at the first jump on Carlos and then was trying to catch up, but it worked out first and second, so everyone was happy."
Detailing his strategy, first to go with Zander and next with HH Carlos Z, Ward described, "I was going to try to go fast. Zander is a very fast horse and he is typically better in his jump-offs even than his first rounds. My thought was, without doing anything foolish, to put pressure on. I thought that he had such a nice round that it actually allowed me to also try to really take a shot with Carlos. If I had had a rail down with Zander, maybe I would have eased up a little on the time with Carlos, which who knows how things would have unfolded then. I think the other two, Leslie and Santiago, knew that the time was fast and they had to go."
Comparing the two horses, Ward added, "They are both very careful. Zander has a bigger stride. They are not polar opposites. They are both quality horses with blood. Carlos takes a little more leg, but they are not far apart."
Zander and HH Carlos Z will now both have a break after a fantastic summer circuit. Ward plans to jump his top horse, Rothchild, in tomorrow's final grand prix. He recapped a fantastic summer so far, stating, "I am thrilled with all of the horses here. Rothchild, these horses, my big mare d'Ulien (van de Smeets), and HH Cannavaro. Every horse has really performed well here. I have not been upset with one of them. I am thrilled, and my wife took a third today, which made my day. Everybody is doing well."
The 'Pan American' Tournament concludes on Sunday with the $33,500 Friends of the Meadows Cup Derby 1.45m in the All Canada Ring, followed by the $400,000 Pan American Cup presented by Rolex in the Meadows on the Green. For more information and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Final Results: $83,000 Investors Group Cup 1.50m
1 ZANDER: Dutch Warmblood / G / 10 Cantos x Saygon
MCLAIN WARD (USA), McLain Ward & Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/37.06
2 HH CARLOS Z: Zangersheide / G / 12 Chellano Z x Voltaire
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm: 0/4/38.62
3 SKOVLUNDEGAARDS CASSIUS: Warmblood / G / 11 Casir Ask x Waldstern
SANTIAGO LAMBRE (MEX), Santiago Lambre: 0/7/47.94
4 BALBOA 6: Warmblood / G / 11 Baloubet D.Ro x Cascadeur
LESLIE HOWARD (USA), Moormann, Rolf u. Paul Schockemohle: 0/22/46.16
5 ARISTOTELIS: Dutch Warmblood / S / 9 Indoctro x Voltaire
ANTONIO CHEDRAUI (MEX), Antonio Chedraui: 1/75.96
6 ARTEMIS: Zangersheide / M / 9 Chamberlain Z x Casimir
ALI WOLFF (USA), John Wolff: 4/69.79
7 SHORAPUR: Hanoverian / M / 9 Stakkato Gold x Drosselklang II
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Shorapur LLC: 4/69.80
8 MIMOSA:Swedish Warmblood / M / 10 Cardento x Easy San
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 4/70.21
9 TALOUBET: Dutch Warmblood / G / 14 Baloubet de Rouet x Quidam de Revel
PAULO SANTANA (BRA), Paulo Santana: 4/70.63
10 WKD PEPPERPOT: Irish Sport Horse / M / 12 Heritage Fortunus x Diamonds Aretrumps
SAMEH EL DAHAN (EGY), Joanne Sloan Allen: 4/70.93
11 GAZELLE: Belgian Warmblood / M / 8 Kashmir van Shutterhof x Diva Ter Elsen
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 4/71.34
12 ZARA LEANDRA: Dutch Warmblood / M / 10 Metropole x Ahorn
PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), ZL Group Inc: 4/72.72
Source: Press release from Spruce Meadows Media Services
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