Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 9, 2018 – Friday’s $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic CSI5* marked the second major win in as many days for U.S. Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward, who captured the Friday victory at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) aboard Bellefleur PS Z. WEF continues through April 1 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
The fifth week of WEF, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, features CSI 5* competition from February 7-11 and the $384,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 10.
The $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic had 54 entries contesting the speed track set by course designer Kelvin Bywater of Great Britain. Seventeen of those entries completed the course without fault, but none were faster than Ward, who was fresh off a win in Thursday’s $132,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 aboard his 2017 FEI World Cup Final champion mount HH Azur. This time, Ward tripped the timers in 55.88 seconds riding Bellefleur PS Z, a nine-year-old Zangersheide mare owned by Ward’s godmother, Susan Heller, and Ward’s daughter, Lilly.
“My godmother bought half of her with the stipulation that my half was owned by Lilly Ward because she thought that maybe that would prevent me from selling – which, who knows,” Ward explained. “I absolutely love the mare. She loves her job. She’s a fighter, a trier, just a wonderful horse to be able to compete.”
Second place with a time of 57.88 seconds went to Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding USA Normande, owned by Paillot Equestrian. Rounding out the top three were Karen Polle (JPN) and Little Lord with a time of 58.38 seconds.
“She’s a very fast horse naturally,” Ward said of Bellefleur and his winning time, two seconds faster than Kenny’s second place finish. “I actually didn’t do all of the leave outs. Her stride isn’t massive, but she’s just quick across the floor. She’s super careful, so you don’t really have to set her up anywhere.
“You have a different flavor every week here and this was an English course builder and traditionally with English course designers, you have a lot of roll backs; they rode the horse on a short stride,” Ward continued. “You see that in the course, which is interesting and a different challenge.”
Bellefleur’s win also marked a birthday victory for the mare’s youngest owner, as Lilly Ward turned three years old on Friday. However, while exciting for most, for the three-year-old Lilly, Bellefleur’s win will likely be well overshadowed by her own birthday party later in the day.
In the $35,000 Equiline 1.45m Jumper Classic CSI 2*, Andrew Kocher (USA) was victorious riding Kahlua, owned by Top Line Sporthorse International LLC. They were fastest in an 18-horse jump-off from an original line-up of 83 entries with a time of 30.27 seconds.
Alonso Valdez Prado (PER) and his own Chichester 3 finished second with a time of 30.59 seconds. Third place went to Felipe Amaral (BRA) and Germanico T, owned by Roberta Romalho, who had a time of 31.05 seconds.
$35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Faults | Time
1. Bellefleur PS Z / McLain Ward / USA / 0 | 55.88
2. USA Normande / Darragh Kenny / IRL / 0 | 57.88
3. Little Lord 90 / Karen Polle / JPN / 0 | 58.38
4. Bokai / Catherine Tyree / USA / 0 | 58.71
5. Lady Maria BH / Amanda Derbyshire / GBR / 0 | 59.51
6. Chapilot / Rodrigo Lambre / BRA / 0 | 60.76
7. D Cancarra A.C. / Olivier Philippaerts / BEL / 0 | 61.16
8. Don’t Touch Du Bois / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / 0 | 61.62
9. Collin / Luiz Francisco De Azevedo / BRA / 0 | 62.86
10. Bugatti / Wilhelm Genn / GER / 0 | 65.35
11. Armik / Capt. Brian Cournane / IRL / 0 | 66.04
12. Urus 2 / Ljubov Kochetova / RUS / 0 | 66.79
Baylee McKeever and Valor Win Washington International Horse Show Pony Equitation
Baylee McKeever and her mount, Valor, owned by Lee McKeever, claimed the blue in Friday’s Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Pony Equitation class. The pair set a high bar to beat in ring 11 as they finished with a high score of 84.
“He will do anything for you,” said McKeever, who prevailed around the challenging turns and through the bending lines in today’s pony competition. The duo were also first place in Friday’s USEF Pony Medal.
The young rider commented that her winning rounds marked exciting progress for her and Valor in their short time together since the 14-year-old Welsh Pony’s purchase last summer, and that she thought she succeeded in correcting some of the struggles she has been working on.
“Sometimes he can swap leads if I don’t balance him correctly,” said McKeever. “So, if I just balance him, he does it. He was very good today around the turns and over the jumps, and I think I handled it well.”
McKeever added that her goals for the next few weeks of WEF competition are to continue to have positive rounds and to claim some good ribbons aboard the fancy bay gelding. She expressed her additional excitement for next week’s pony hunter classics during WCHR week at WEF.
Second place in the WIHS Pony Equitation went to Sadie Paulos and Morton’s Catillac, owned by RCG Farm.
Competition continues with the highlight class of the week, the $384,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix, for “Saturday Night Lights” at 7 p.m. In the hunter ring, the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division will be awarded their championships.