Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 24, 2019 – The seventh week of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) drew to a close on Sunday, February 24, with a victory in the International Arena for McLain Ward (USA)and Tradition de la Roque, owned by Kessler Show Stables Europe BV, winning the $72,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI 5*.
Forty-five entries challenged the course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio. Four were able to go clear in the first 20 trips in the class, and they went on to go for speed in the jump-off.
Ward went first in the jump-off on HH Gigi’s Girl, owned by Double H Farm. A rail and a time of 39.41 seconds left them in fourth place.
Lorenzo de Luca (ITA), riding Stephex Stables’ Evita Van’t Zoggehof, were next in and they were very quick and clear in 37.81 seconds, which would slot into second place. Third place went to Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) on H5 Jemousin, owned by H5 Stables, who was clear in 41.07 seconds.
Last proved to the best when Ward returned with Tradition de la Roque, a 12-year-old Selle Français mare by Kannan x Oberon du Moulin. They sped through the short course in 37.55 seconds, just taking the win by less than three-tenths of a second.
“I wanted to go in and be fast with Gigi and try to put on a little pressure, but she had an unfortunate rail,” said Ward. “Then Lorenzo’s round was fast; he took two seconds off my time on Gigi. There were not a lot of options at that point. With only four in the jump-off, you know you’re going to get a good check. I wasn’t going to not try. I thought when I landed after the double [combination] line, I was slower. I tried to make up a little time to the last few jumps, but it was a hair.”
With only two jump-off trips between his two horses, it was a quick turnaround for Ward, who didn’t overthink his second ride. “I know her pretty well now, and she’s a really solid citizen,” he said. “She’s not a complicated horse. Sometimes simple is better. You just line up and hit your shot.”
George Morris, who was the U.S. team Chef d’Equipe for Ward during Olympic and World Equestrian Games, was on the rail to give Ward some advice.
“He was just telling me what the one [before me] did,” explained Ward. “George is always in my corner, and I trust his input. If he has something to say, or he sees something, I always hear him. I have my plan when I come up, and you have to be careful not to let too many things get in your head, but with George, I have a good rapport with him. If he says something, I always take notice.”
This was the fifth FEI ranking class top five placing for Ward and Tradition de la Roque since they started together in September 2018. Ward said her skill at turning helps the big mare stay fast and competitive. She is offered for sale, and Ward appreciates having the experienced horse in his string.
“She’s really been phenomenal for us,” he said. “She’s been in the results almost every time out of the box. If not, she was very unlucky not to be. We’re really thrilled to her. But I’m sure she’s going to find a home somewhere along the way. We’ve been on a little of four-fault-itis run here, so it’s nice to get a win in the bag.”
WEF continues with CSIO4* week 8 presented by Lugano Diamonds, on February 27-March 3, with highlights that include the $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO4* on Saturday, March 2, and the $209,000 Grand Prix CSIO4* presented by Lugano Diamonds on Sunday, March 3.
$72,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults / R2 Faults | Time
1. Tradition De La Roque / McLain Ward / USA / 0 / 0 | 37.55
2. Evita Van’t Zoggehof / Lorenzo De Luca / ITA / 0 / 0 | 37.81
3. H5 Jemousin / Carlos Hank Guerreiro / MEX / 0 / 0 | 41.07
4. HH Gigi’s Girl / McLain Ward / USA / 0 / 4 | 39.41
5. Jiva / Beezie Madden / USA / 4 | 73.24
6. Soory De L’hallali / Lorenzo De Luca / ITA / 4 | 73.86
7. Tino La Chapelle / Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado / MEX / 4 | 73.87
8. Important De Muze / Darragh Kenny / IRL / 4 | 74.00
9. Chapilot / Rodrigo Lambre / BRA / 4 | 74.65
10. Carlito’s Way 6 / Markus Beerbaum / GER / 4 | 74.88
11. Collin / Luiz Francisco De Azevedo / BRA / 4 | 75.48
12. Donatello 141 / Ashlee Bond / ISR / 4 | 75.79