Wellington, Fla. – March 8, 2018 – The third CSI5* week of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) kicked off on Wednesday with Saturday’s grand prix qualifier, the $132,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round IX CSI5*, highlighting FEI competition on Thursday. World number three ranked athlete, McLain Ward of the USA, claimed his third WEF Challenge Cup victory of the 2018 season and second with Hija Van Strokapelleken on Thursday, besting 50 of the world’s top international horse-and-rider combinations.
Ireland’s Alan Wade, course designer for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon this September, built a technical 13-fence first round track, which saw 13 cross the finish line with no faults to advance to the jump-off.
Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm, LLC’s Chaqui Z kicked off the tie-breaking round as the first pair to return to the International Arena, and were the early double-clear pathfinders, stopping the timers in 40.486 seconds.
Israel’s Danielle Goldstein and The Golden Group and Goldstein’s Lizziemary, winners of Week Seven’s $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*, produced the second double-clear effort in 40.682 seconds to slide behind Sweetnam in the standings.
As the class progressed, four other horses and athletes were able to finish the short course with no faults, but were unable to touch Sweetnam or Goldstein’s top two times.
Second to last in the jump-off order-of-go, Ward and Evergate Stable, LLC’s 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare galloped around the course, leaving all of the rails intact, to outpace Sweetnam’s time by one second in 39.373 seconds and take over the top spot on the leaderboard, ultimately garnering Sweetnam second place honors and Goldstein third place.
Hija Van Strokapelleken previously competed with Egypt’s Nayel Nassar on the Longines Global Champions Tour throughout Europe in 2017, and just partnered with Ward in January at WEF. Thus far this season, the pair have already collected four wins, three of which were CSI5* competitions.
Thursday’s win also officially marks Ward’s 27th WEF Challenge Cup victory of his career, tied with Canada’s Eric Lamaze.
Week Nine of WEF will feature the $384,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI5* on Saturday at 7 p.m., where Ward will aim to stay consistent in his winning ways and vie for top honors once again with HH Azur.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
McLain Ward – $132,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round IX CSI5* winner
On Thursday’s course:
“It was a big track. I was actually very surprised by how many clean rounds there were. This was by far the strongest track we’ve had in the WEF series [this year]. My mare jumped beautifully in the first round. I thought it went really well. I thought there were seven [strides] to the last fence, but I got a great jump into the line and at about stride five and three quarters I thought, ‘I’m going to crash.’ So I put the handbrake on — most horses would have cantered right through the jump — but my mare made a hell of a move to jump it. She’s always trying for me and I really enjoy her.”
On continuing to compete Hija Van Strokapelleken:
“That’s up to Jenn [Gates]. The mare is owned by Evergate Stables and I’m really honored to ride her. I love riding her. The horse is on the market and she’s been winning as much as any horse in the world the past couple of months. There is always a very good chance that she gets sold, which is the goal. Until then, I’m loving every bit of her and she’s performing beautifully.”
On winning his third CSI5* WEF Challenge Cup of 2018:
“These are great prize money and ranking classes. Like I’ve always said, the rankings are a nice reflection of your consistency within the sport. It’s not my ultimate goal to be number one in the world, but if it were to happen, it shows that you are doing the sport well at the highest level consistently. Unfortunately, whoever becomes number one in the next couple of months is going to have an asterisk next to their name without Kent [Farrington] competing.”
$132,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round IX CSI5*, sponsored by Equinimity:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Hija Van Strokapelleken / McLain Ward / USA / Evergate Stable, LLC / 0 / 0 / 39.373
2. Chaqui Z / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Spy Coast Farm, LLC / 0 / 0 / 40.486
3. Lizziemary / Danielle Goldstein / ISR / The Golden Group and Danielle Goldstein / 0 / 0 / 40.682
4. Eddie Blue / Devin Ryan / USA / LL Show Jumpers, LLC / 0 / 0 / 40.965
5. Darry Lou / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0 / 0 / 41.796
6. Bull Run’s Testify / Kristen Vanderveen / USA / Bull Run Jumpers, Inc. / 0 / 0 / 41.860
7. Cool Hand Luke 4 / Markus Beerbaum / GER / Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC / 0 / 0 / 49.515
8. Tosca De L’Esques / Fabio Leivas Da Costa / BRA / Bonne Chance Farm LLC / 0 / 4 / 39.428
9. Day Dream / Jimmy Torano / USA / Jimmy and Danielle Torano / 0 / 4 / 40.240
10. Cor Bakker / Fernando Martinez Sommer / MEX / Fernando Martinez Sommer / 0 / 4 / 40.714
11. Rubens LS La Silla / Conor Swail / IRL / Rose Hill Farm / 0 / 4 / 40.750
12. Confu / Laura Kraut / USA / St. Bride’s Farm / 0 / 4 / 43.497
For full results, click here.