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King of Devon does it again! McLain Ward wins CSI4* Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon

Friday, 02 June 2017
CSI4* Devon 2017

Photo (c) The Book LLC. McLain Ward and Rothchild won the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon. Photo (c) The Book LLC.

Thursday night at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair belonged to world number two McLain Ward of Brewster, New York, who surpassed 28 contenders to claim the CSI4* $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon for the ninth time in his career. Ward rode the 16-year-old Rothchild (Artos x Elegant de L'ile), owned by Sagamore Farms, around the famed Dixon Oval in front of a packed crowd, consisting of diehard showjumping fans to Pennsylvania locals, hoping to witness some of the greatest names in the sport of showjumping go head-to-head for the most coveted trophy in the Devon collection: The Celeste McNeal Harper Perpetual Trophy.

Great Britain’s Kelvin Bywater put riders to the test, challenging the international field of athletes with his technical first round track consisting of 12 obstacles each set at 1.60m in height.

Jonathan McCrea (USA) set the tone for the evening as the first to navigate the course fault-free aboard Candy Tribble’s Aristoteles V (Padinus x Lux). Second to turn in a clear ride was Devin Ryan (USA) riding his own Cooper (Unaniem x Baloubet du Rouet), while Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) gave Luibanta BH (Luidam x Abantos) a clear ride for Gochman Sport Horse LLC. The remaining riders to join the jump-off were Aaron Vale (USA) riding Finou 4 (For Pleasure x Concetto), owned by Thinks Like A Horse, and Ward and Rothchild.

In the end, Rothchild reigned supreme for the second time, after also winning with Ward in 2013, in the five-horse jump-off, thrilling spectators and galloping through the timers in a speedy 41.21 seconds.

McCrea was first to return to take on the shortened course, and set the time to beat at four faults in 46.260 seconds, which would earn him fifth place at the end of the evening. Ryan was second to return and was the first to clear the course penalty-free in 42.110 seconds, garnering him second place honors in the final standings. Derbyshire followed with another fault-free round, finishing just behind Ryan in 42.560 seconds, which would be good enough for third place. Vale returned as fourth in the jump-off order-of-go, but added four faults to his name in 42.950 seconds to finish in fourth place.

The enthusiastic crowd erupted as Ward and his longtime partner, Rothchild, were the final pair to cross the finish line with all of the rails intact. The ever-expressive gelding threw his infamous buck at the end of his stellar performance, knowing he had secured the title of $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon.

Rothchild and Ward continue to make headlines with their impressive performances throughout the world, including those at the 2015 Pan American Games where the pair won individual gold.

To conclude the night, Beezie Madden (USA) was presented with the Richard E. McDevitt Style Award for displaying the best style of riding throughout the evening aboard Breitling LS.

“I love Devon; I always have," said Ward afterwards. "I’ve always made an effort to come here. The first time I jumped this grand prix was 25 years ago. It was always a very special place to my father and my family, which made it a special place for me. I continue to try and support this event because I believe in it and the people here. They have reinvented Devon. It’s a venue on Thursday night that I think can compete with Calgary, Aachen and Hickstead. The atmosphere here is every bit as good as those venues. It’s great to see the numbers and the quality of the jumping coming back to a really high level. The thing that I have noticed in the last few years is that every year they are making improvements. This year you have the new VIP tent, buildings, footing and I think the future looks bright, which is really something I am proud to be a part of. I am proud to be here. I very much hope it becomes a 5* one day. I think it’s worthy of that level of competition. I don’t think there’s a better environment anywhere in the world, and I’ve gotten to show at every major show there is. I don’t know a place like it.”

“Kelvin is a brilliant course designer. His courses, and I say this as a compliment, are quite English — a lot of rollbacks. Rollbacks and Rothchild are a little dice-y. He can duck out every once in a while so I have to give him a little bit of room even though he has good foot speed. I didn’t think the jump-off was super fast tonight so I didn’t have to be insane,” commented Ward.

“That horse gets this sport," said McLain of Rothchild. "I always say to him, ‘You don’t owe me a thing but it would be nice to win again!’ That’s kind of how I am with him. He owes me nothing. If he never jumps another fence again, it’s fine. As long as he’s healthy and he’s performing this way I think he enjoys it, and physically he looks better than ever. So I am going to continue on with him as long as he tells me he’s still healthy and enjoying the sport and enjoying what we’re doing.”

$225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*:

1. Rothchild / McLain Ward / USA / Sagamore Farms / 0 / 70.260 / 0 / 41.210
2. Cooper / Devin Ryan / USA / Devin Ryan / 0 / 68.02 / 0 / 42.110
3. Luibanta BH / Amanda Derbyshire / GBR / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 / 69.900 / 0 / 42.560
4. Finou 4 / Aaron Vale / USA / Thinks Like A Horse / 0 / 69/230 / 4 / 42.950
5. Aristoteles V / Jonathan McCrea / USA / Candy Tribble / 0 / 72.080 / 4 /46.260
6. Navalo de Poheton / Andrew Kocher / USA / MKO Equestrian LLC / 4 / 67.200
7. Quointreau Un Prince / Laura Chapot / USA / Laura Chapot and McLain Ward / 4 / 68.060
8. Breitling LS / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 4 / 69.100
9. GC Chopins Bushi / Alberto Michan / MEX / Iron Horse Farm / 4 / 69.360
10. California 62 / Andrew Ramsay / USA / The California Group / 4 / 69.880
11. Barnetta / Sharn Wordley / NZ / Sky Group / 4 / 70.030
12. Serise Du Bidou / Alison Robitaille / USA / Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone / 4 / 71.600

Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group / Picture © The Book LLC

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