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McLain Ward and HH Azur Repeat Victory at the Winter Equestrian Festival

McLain Ward and HH Azur. Photos © SportfotMcLain Ward and HH Azur. Photos © Sportfot

McLain Ward and HH Azur Repeat Victory at the Winter Equestrian Festival

  • McLain Ward and HH Azur Repeat Victory in $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5* at the Winter Equestrian Festival
  • Augusta Iwasaki Wins THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under

Two-time Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) and superstar mare HH Azur jumped to victory in the $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5* for the second year in a row on Saturday night at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. Rounding out an all-star line-up, Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Fine Lady 5 finished second, and Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and Arrayan placed third.

WEF seven concludes at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday, February 26, with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* in the International Arena. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.

Thirty-nine entries started over course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio’s (USA) first round track on Saturday night, with 12 combinations qualifying for the jump-off. The race over the short course was a showdown of epic proportions, with an impressive roster including eight Olympians, three of the top-ten ranked riders in the world, and an Olympic champion going head-to-head riding their best horses.

McLain Ward and HH Azur. Photos © Sportfot

McLain Ward, riding Double H Farm’s and Francois Mathy’s HH Azur, jumped the winning round in 39.70 seconds. Lamaze, aboard Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Fine Lady 5, stopped the clock in 40.07 seconds. Moya and Alvarez Moya Horses SL’s Arrayan placed third in 40.10 seconds.

“I am thrilled with the mare,” McLain Ward said of his 2016 Olympic silver medalist mount, an 11-year-old Belgian Sport Horse (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui). “This is her first big start of the year. We gave her a little bit of a rest with the World Cup Finals in Omaha in mind. We have planned only two major weeks for her here.

“For myself, I have to say I was probably a bit motivated tonight,” McLain Ward continued. “I have been on a little bit of a four-fault run and getting a little frustrated. Eric has been winning everything. Sometimes Eric says I have a look; I think I had it tonight. I wanted it a little bit.”

Commenting on the short course, McLain Ward noted, “I thought it was quite a well-balanced jump-off. Eric and I have very different horses, and there were pros to the jump-off for both horses. There were long gallops at the beginning and the end, which were not that hard with my mare’s stride, and her bravery, and scope. For me, those hairpin rollback turns in the middle were much more of a concern, because with a big horse like mine I knew I was going to lose momentum. It was a fraction between us. I had a little bit of a lucky rub on the second to last fence, but I have been having some unlucky ones lately, so I’ll take it.”

Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5

Lamaze, who was the 2008 Olympic Champion, was aboard Fine Lady 5, the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) that he rode to an individual Olympic bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. The pair has already won big this winter, taking victory in week four’s $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 3*, as well as week five’s $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5.

Sergio Alvarez Moya and Arrayan

Finishing third, Moya brought his 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Baloubet du Rouet x Grannus) Arrayan to Wellington this winter as he prepares for the FEI World Cup Finals in five weeks. Moya showed in Wellington eight years ago, but decided to return to the event this season to stay on the top of his game competing against many of the best in the world.

“There are great competitors here,” Moya noted. “We have Sunshine Tour in Spain that is not that far from my place, but it is a completely different level. Here is a bit more real competition. You have to go against these guys, and you have to try hard to do well in the grand prix.”

Moya, who also jumped in last summer’s Rio Olympic Games with top mount Carlo 273, purchased Arrayan ten months ago. The Spanish Champion built the gelding up from the two-star classes and was pleased with their night.

“He was really strong when I first got him,” Moya added. “I actually did not take him to a show for a few months because I could hardly ride him. He has gotten better and better. He does not have all of the experience, but he tries. He wants to jump clear.”

Eric Lamaze, McLain Ward, and Sergio Alvarez Moya in the top three presentation with Kyle Younghans, Sports Marketing Manager, Rolex Watch USA; Mark and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions; and ringmaster Steve Rector.

Augusta Iwasaki Wins THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under

August Iwasaki of Calabasas, CA, won the THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under on Saturday morning. The medal consisted of a first round and a final test that brought back the top four riders in reverse order. The test included a halt, counter-cantering a fence, and several changes of lead. The field of 34 riders was competitive as the cut off score for the test was an 85.

Small Advantage, a 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Argentina owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, is a new mount for Iwasaki, who started riding him at the end of November. Prior to being shown in the equitation classes, the gelding competed in the 1.40m jumpers. Iwasaki and her mount were sitting in third place after the first round but moved up following her test to take the win.

August Iwasaki and Small Advantage

“Part of the test was to canter down the quarter line and do three changes of the lead,” Iwasaki explained. “My horse is good at lead changes, but he likes to have a rail to bounce over and because there are obviously no rails on the ground in the class, I chose to do simple changes. Simple changes are easier anyway. He felt really good over the jumps. Sometimes he gets a little strong, but he’s new to things and just figuring it out.”

Devon Thomas of Millburn, NJ, and her own Cordino finished in second, moving up from the fourth place position after the test. Thomas started competing the coming 16-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Corrado I in May 2016 and also shows him in the 3’6″ equitation classes. In third were Ava Ellis of Annapolis, MD, and Campreoll, an entry of Missy Clark & North Run. Fourth place went to Tessa P. Brown riding Katie Strandberg’s Sephora.

The seventh week of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival concludes on Sunday with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* in the International Arena. The THIS Children’s Medal 15-17 will also decide a winner. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Final Results: $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5*

1. HH AZUR: 2006 Belgian Sport Horse mare Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm & Francois Mathy: 0/0/39.70

2. FINE LADY 5: 2003 Hanoverian mare by Forsyth x Drosselklang II
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines Stable: 0/0/40.07

3. ARRAYAN: 2005 KWPN gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Grannus
SERGIO ALVAREZ MOYA (ESP), Alvarez Moya Horses SL: 0/0/40.10

4. GOOD LUCK: 2006 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Canturo x Furioso II
CIAN O’CONNOR (IRL), Adena Springs & Ronnoco Jump Ltd: 0/0/40.21

5. CORNET D’AMOUR: 2003 Westphalian stallion by Cornet Obolensky x Damiani
DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex Stables & Daniel Deusser: 0/0/41.05

6. SHORAPUR: 2005 Hanoverian mare by Stakkato Gold x Drosselklang II
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Shorapur LLC: 0/0/41.37

7. HILFIGER VAN DE OLMENHOEVE: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Dulf van den Bisschop x Querlybet Hero
EMILY MOFFITT (GBR), Poden Farms: 0/0/45.87

8. CADALORA P: 2007 KPWN gelding by Namelus R x Furore
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/4/41.59

9. LUCIFER V: 2006 Westphalian gelding by Lord Dezi x Gran
deur
HARDIN TOWELL (USA), Evergate Stables LLC: 0/4/42.75

10. ZEREMONIE: 2007 Holsteiner mare by Cero I x Quick Star
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Old Willow Farms LLC: 0/4/43.30

11. ATLANTIS: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo Z x Royal Bravour L
SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 0/8/42.90

12. HAPPYDAM: 2007 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Quidam de Revel x Narcos II
SAMUEL HUTTON (GBR), AS Sport Horses: 0/8/45.20

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