Devon, Pa. – May 31, 2018 – 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 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 thereafter. 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 in May.
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 also presented with the McDevitt Style Award and the Richard E. McDevitt Style Perpetual Trophy.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
McLain Ward (USA) – $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4* winner
“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.”
On Thursday’s course:
“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.”
On his winning jump-off round:
“The whole beginning of the jump-off worked really well for us. The turn to the double came up very nicely, which I was a little bit concerned about. The horse is so careful that I was worried she would go too high. I tried to make up a little bit of time on the way to the last fence and, to be honest, she could have chipped or stopped at it. It showed me where she is mentally and that she believes in what I am asking of her because it was a little bit of a dicey distance. The horse saved me there, she was incredible.”
On his plan for Clinta:
“Clinta is very sensitive. 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.”
On student Adrienne Sternlicht’s second place finish:
“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.”
On the Devon Horse Show:
“Even on a rainy night, how can you beat the atmosphere here? I’ve always said this is a special place — it’s an iconic location. The crowd is second to none. I don’t think there’s an atmosphere in the world that is better. It’s always been a special place for me, and it was a special place for my father. Things just seem to go really well for me here. I am honored to ride in front of this crowd. I always seem to have them in my back pocket.”
Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) – Second place
On her performances on Thursday:
“I had many more experienced and incredible riders behind me tonight, and I have the gift of riding an incredible horse. I tried to trust myself and stick to my plan. I’ve become more and more confident in the jump-off. Tonight, I just tried to execute according to McLain’s plan for me.”
On the course:
“I thought the course was quite technical with a lot of careful verticals, and that definitely played a factor for some of the riders that came before me. McLain said to me after watching the first two go that it was a similar track to the grand prix at the [Longines Masters of New York], which was quite careful, and that was the last grand prix that Cristalline jumped. With Cristalline, I feel that anything is possible.”
On her year so far:
“I took a little bit of time at the end of 2017 when I was having a tough time with the sport to recenter 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 have. I have more confidence in her everyday.”
Devin Ryan (USA) – Third place
On his third place finish at the Devon Horse Show:
“It seems like the past two or three years I’ve been riding on McLain’s coat tails so going in to this class I knew I really wanted to take a shot at it. I wanted to be double-clean tonight because that’s always the goal, but I think I took too much of a shot [in the jump-off]. My horse has such a big stride that sometimes it gets away from me a little bit. I tried to win it too much.”
On Thursday’s course:
“I thought it was a great course tonight. This is a 4* level show jumping event with great footing and a great ring. I think the course designer had a great number in the jump-off with five of us.”
On Eddie Blue:
“This is [Eddie Blue]’s first show back after World Cup Finals. I’m just taking it one day at a time. Hopefully it will be our year. It’s always been my dream to represent the United States at some level. I have some really good owners and a good crew behind me. It’s so important to have a good team behind you during a year like this. I’m excited for it and I’m going to give it a shot.”
$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 1 LLC / 0 / 0 / 40.20
3. Eddie Blue / Devin Ryan / USA / LL Show Jumpers, 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 / Andrew Kocher / USA / Top Line 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 / Alexa Schwitzer and Kim Douglas / 4 / 71.31
10. Creedance / Kent Farrington / USA / Kent Farrington and RCG Farm / 4 / 71.33
11. Akuna Mattata / Nicole Shahinian-Simpson / USA / Silver Raven Farms / 4 / 71.73
12. Darry Lou / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 4 / 72.22