Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 22, 2018 – The seventh week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) boasts the season’s second week of CSI5* competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Thursday highlighted the $132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round VII where Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) rode Evergate Stables LLC’s Hija Van Strokapelleken to his 27th WEF Challenge Cup victory.
Fifty-two riders contested Anthony D’Ambrosio’s (USA) track over 16 efforts, which saw 19 horse-and-rider combinations advance to the jump-off.
Tenth in the ring, Ward and “Hija,” one of Ward’s five grey mare mounts, sped to a clear first round to return for the jump-off and finish with a double-clear effort in 35.20 seconds. The 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare just joined Ward’s string this season, but the pair has already had a successful show year, recently claiming the $35,000 Welcome Stake CSIO5* at HITS Ocala V and the $35,000 CP Welcome Stake at the 2018 CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W.
Second place was awarded to Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and Ariel Grange’s Cita with a double-clear finish in 36.016 seconds. Coyle and the 11-year-old Holsteiner mare also recently picked up a major win in the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington CSI3*-W at the Palm Beach Masters.
Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Rushy Marsh Farm LLC’s RMF Swinny Du Parc, an 11-year-old Selle Français mare, finished third in 36.119 seconds. The pair has consistently ribboned near the top of the leaderboard throughout the 2018 winter season, with a second place finish in the $132,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI3* during WEF Week Three.
Jumper competition will continue in the International Arena on Friday, Feb. 23, at 8 a.m. with the Bainbridge 1.40m Speed Challenge, while the highlight of Week Seven will be the $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* on Saturday, Feb. 24, beginning at 7 p.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
McLain Ward – $132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round VII CSI5* winner
On Thursday’s win:
“These classes are really hard to win. They are big but then, because of the large amount of horses involved, there are also a lot clear. It’s always a nightmare for the course designers because typically the horses are comfortable in this ring but it’s their first class of the week so they’re quite fresh. This week in particular is a big week so people are serious, concentrated and focused. It’s always a difficult challenge but it’s nice to be able to have two horses in the division too. I have Azur as well who will come out later in the week for the grand prix and I’m also prequalified so it takes some of the pressure off. I was joking with Daniel and Jessica because they were saying I had the record amount of WEF wins and I told them I had been doing WEF longer than either of them have been alive. It’s been a great series and it’s a nice thing to win.”
On Hija Van Strokapelleken:
“She’s a really big mare but once you get on her, other than her stride being massive which I can use to my advantage, she doesn’t feel so big. She’s really rideable, she has a lot of blood and she’s slap-sided so she doesn’t take up so much of your leg. When you first walk up to get on her she looks massive but when you ride her you don’t notice her size so much; she doesn’t ride like a big horse. She’s won quite a few classes already this season — this is her fourth or fifth for sure.”
On Ward’s affinity for mares:
“I get along with them very well. When you have success with a particular type of horse you’re always subconsciously drawn [to them]. I can’t say that when I look at a horse that I let all of those stereotypes factor in. Whether it’s a girl, boy, color, if it has a white eye, I think that’s all a little bit of nonsense so I just look for a nice horse. I think our program is good for the mares because we’re quite sensitive with the horses and we try to reward them for performing well by giving them a bit of an easy lifestyle. That maybe doesn’t work so well with the stallions because you need a little bit more discipline, but I think it allows the mares to flourish because they’re usually quite happy with that.”
$132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 7
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Hija Van Strokapelleken / McLain Ward / USA / 0 | 73.08 / 0 | 35.20
2. Cita / Daniel Coyle / IRL / 0 | 73.74 / 0 | 36.016
3. RMF Swinny Du Parc / Jessica Springsteen / USA / 0 | 74.37 / 0 | 36.119
4. Tino La Chapelle / Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado / MEX / 0 | 70.5 / 0 | 36.513
5. Caspar 213 / Danielle Goldstein / ISR / 0 | 74.06 / 0 | 36.555
6. Cristalline / Adrienne Sternlicht / USA / 0 | 74.05 / 0 | 37.998
7. Casper / Sharn Wordley / NZL / 0 | 74.44 / 0 | 38.91
8. Coriandolo Di Ribano / Lauren Tisbo / USA / 0 | 74.11 / 0 | 38.954
9. Polias / Alexandra Paillot / FRA / 0 | 73.44 / 4 | 33.547
10. Dingeman / Santiago Lambre / MEX / 0 | 73.75 / 4 | 36.645
11. Clearwater / Marilyn Little / USA / 0 | 74.84 / 4 | 37.282
12. Charmed / Markus Beerbaum / GER / 0 | 74.98 / 4 | 37.546
For full results, click here.