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McLain Ward makes history at Devon with tenth career $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon win

Friday, 01 June 2018
CSI4* Devon Horse Show 2018

Photo (c) Taylor Rains / Phelps Sports McLain Ward and Clinta. Photo (c) Taylor Rains / Phelps Sports.

Thursday night at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair once again belonged to the “King of Devon” McLain Ward of Brewster, New York, who surpassed 31 contenders to claim the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4* for a record tenth time in his career. Ward rode the 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, Clinta, owned by Sagamore Farms, around the famed Dixon Oval in front of a packed crowd, consisting of diehard show jumping fans to Pennsylvania locals, hoping to witness some of the greatest names in the sport of show jumping go head-to-head for the most coveted trophy in the Devon collection: the Celeste McNeal Harper Perpetual Trophy.

Winning at Devon has always been very special for Ward, especially since the grand prix is named after his legendary Olympic mount Sapphire, who died in 2014 due to complications from colic and who he also won the prestigious class with two times in 2007 and 2009. Even after claiming the title time and time again, Thursday’s tenth grand prix victory marked an incredible milestone in Devon Horse Show history.

Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge built a technical first round course consisting of 13 obstacles, where five were able to produce clear rounds to ensure a jump-off.

Kicking off the tiebreaker was 25-year-old Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), who is also trained by Ward, aboard Starlight Farms 1 LLC’s Cristalline. They cleared the short course and set the standard to beat at 40.20 seconds.

Ward and Clinta entered through the iconic blue “Where Champions Meet” archway as third in the order, going all out and and clearing the final oxer in a blazing 36.91 seconds for the lead as the crowd erupted with applause and cheers.

Ward got the ride on the talented mare at the end of March and the pair made their debut together in Wellington, Florida, shortly after. After getting accustomed to each other, the pair ended their winter season on a high note winning the $50,000 CP 1.50m National Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival. They kicked off their spring competition schedule earning the $382,800 Longines Grand Prix of New York CSI5* at the inaugural Longines Masters of New York before heading to Old Salem Farm in North Salem, New York, and claiming the $35,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem CSI3* and then a second place finish in the $131,000 Empire State Grand Prix CSI3* during the second week of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows.

Competing for the first time at the Devon Horse Show since their second place finish in Paris at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in April, Devin Ryan (USA) and LL Show Jumpers, LLC’s Eddie Blue finished on a total of 8 faults for third place honors in 39.07 seconds, while Sternlicht finished in second place.

To top off an incredible evening, Ward was presented with the McDevitt Style Award and the Richard E. McDevitt Style Perpetual Trophy.

“Clinta has been incredible," said Ward. "It took me a long time to get her purchased and I’m very grateful to the Sweeneys for purchasing her for me to ride and compete. I think with HH Azur, and some of our supporting cast, it really is as strong of a one-two punch as you can have in this sport. The way the sport is now with so many major events and big championships, I’m really trying to manage each horse’s career for the best long-term health of the athlete. I’m very excited about Clinta, and of course I feel so lucky to have Azur for the championships coming this season. I’m very blessed to have the support of the Harrisons and the Sweeneys. This horse is also part owned by my god mother, Susan Heller.”

“Clinta is very sensitive," Ward continued. "I have to make sure that I’m there for her. Her rideability has really improved in the last six weeks. I have to give a lot of credit to her previous rider, Philip Rüping, who developed her over the past year and a half to have the confidence to do what she’s doing now with me. I decided to bring her here because this show warrants bringing your best horses. HH Azur is in Europe. For Clinta, we’ve set benchmarks along the way to keep stepping her up. Her next benchmark is going to be the Nations Cup in Rotterdam. The focus is on Azur for [the World Equestrian Games], and that hasn’t changed.”

 


Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. // Picture © Taylor Rains / Phelps Sports



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