DEVON Pa. — McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y. surpassed 31 contenders to claim the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4* for a record 10th time in his career.
The grand prix at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair once again belonged to the “King of Devon” as Ward rode the 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, Clinta, owned by Sagamore Farms, around the famed Dixon Oval on May 31 in front of a packed crowd consisting of diehard show jumping fans. The crowd included 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, the 10th grand prix victory marked an incredible milestone in Devon Horse Show history.
“Clinta has been incredible. 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,” Ward said.
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, 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.
“I thought the course was excellent. This show, this event, has really taken itself to a new level. The hard work of the organizers, the committees, the sponsors and, of course, the community has reinvented Devon to be a world-class show jumping event. The caliber of riders here reflects that. Every class is full of top riders and horses. People are bringing their best horses here and trying to win. It was a challenging course and I think that four to six clear in a major grand prix is how it should be,” Ward said.
Ward got the ride on the talented mare at the end of March and the pair made their debut together in Wellington, Fla., 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, N.Y., 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 of Long Valley, N.J. 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.
“For me, it’s very exciting to see what Adrienne is doing. I don’t help a lot of people, but the ones that I do I am very passionate about. To see how Adrienne has stepped up in a different capacity makes me very proud. When I’m warming up for the jump-off and you see people you have supported or directly helped, like Devin [Ryan] or Adrienne, it’s a great feeling,” Ward said.
Meanwhile Sterlicht has been having a very good year. “I took a little bit of time at the end of 2017 when I was having a tough time with the sport to re-center myself. So far, I have been blessed to have an amazing 2018. McLain has been very patient with me. I know that if I put my head down, stick to my riding and focus on what’s in front of me, that anything is possible with my horse. It’s been an amazing feeling. I know that I have to prove myself and I feel fortunate to have the partner that I do. I have more confidence in her every day,” she said.
To top off an incredible evening, Ward was presented with the McDevitt Style Award and the Richard E. McDevitt Style Perpetual Trophy.
$250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Clinta / McLain Ward / USA / Sagamore Farms / 0 / 0 / 36.91
2. Cristalline / Adrienne Sternlicht / USA / Starlight Farms / 0 / 0 / 40.20
3. Eddie Blue / Devin Ryan / USA / LI Showjumpers LLC / 0 / 8 / 39.07
4. Chaventyno / Todd Minikus / USA / Legacy Stables LLC / 0 / 8 / 40.02
5. Viva Colombia / Brianne Goutal / USA / Rose Hill Farm / 0 / RET
6. Kahlua / Andy Kocher / USA / Topline Sporthorse International LLC / 1 / 75.04
7. Darko’s Promise / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Kyle Dewar / 4 / 71.24
8. Bokai / Catherine Tyree / USA / Mary Tyree / 4 / 71.30
9. Bacara D’archonfosse / Daniel Bluman / ISR / Over The Top Stables / 71.31
10. Creedance / Kent Farrington / USA / Kent Farrington and RCG Farm / 4 / 71.33
11. Akuna Mattata / Nikki Shahinian-Simpson / USA / Silver Raven Farms / 4 / 71.73
12. Darry Lou / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 4 / 72.22
See more Equestrian news at www.TAPintoHorses.net
Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TAPintoHorses/
Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox.