McLain Ward Takes Top Two Spots in $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix, Presented by The Kincade Group, Merrill Lynch

RELEASE: May 18, 2014
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Jennifer Woode Media, Inc.

North Salem, N.Y. –  The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows came to a successful conclusion with their highlight event, the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix, presented by The Kincade Group, Merrill Lynch. McLain Ward rode to first and second place with HH Cannavaro and HH Carlos Z, both owned by Double H Farm, over a prestigious field of horses and riders. After two weeks of top finishes, Darragh Kenny won the $20,000 Leading Jumper Rider Award, presented by Houlihan Lawrence. Today's competition concluded two great weeks of equestrian sport in North Salem, and Old Salem Farm would like to thank the exhibitors, sponsors, and staff for their support.

Watch an interview with grand prix winner McLain Ward!

The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows were held May 6-11 and May 13–18 at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY. The shows featured over 130 hunter and jumper classes each week, bringing together top competitors, including Olympic show jumpers, from across the country to compete for almost $500,000 in prize money.

McLain Ward and HH Cannavaro (The Book LLC)
McLain Ward and HH Cannavaro (The Book LLC)
There were 42 entries in the grand prix, and nine of them were clear to advance to the jump-off over a course designed by Ireland's Alan Wade. The first clear round in the jump-off came from Leslie Howard on Jane Clark's Wintu, who recorded a time of 38.758 seconds. They would finish in fourth place. Next in, Candice King and Bellissimo LLC's Kismet 50 placed fifth with a time of 40.325 seconds and no faults.

Ward and HH Cannavaro set the winning time at 36.896 seconds. The rider who came the closest to catching Ward was Michael Hughes of Allendale, NJ, on Macarthur, who stopped the timers in 37.836 seconds for third place. Ward and his second horse, HH Carlos Z, had a time of 37.232 seconds, just off the pace.

Hughes has been riding Macarthur for three years, and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Concorde has helped him move into the grand prix arena. “He's been a great horse horse for me,” Hughes affirmed. “He has a lot of experience, so he's good for me to go in and start jumping bigger classes like this. He's pretty much been my main horse to go jump bigger jumps on. He's a great horse. He's just such a smart horse and so clever.”

Hughes said that Macarthur's scope and big stride came in handy on the grass Grand Prix Field. Watching the jump-off, he adjusted his plan. “I had a different plan when I initially walked it, and then I saw McLain go. I changed my plan a little bit doing a few less strides here and there,” he said. “I still ended up doing the add down the last line, which I guess cost me a little bit.”

Ward said of the jump-off course, “There was a seven (strides) from one to two, and then from three to four there was another seven strides, which was difficult to get. But [Cannavaro] has such a big, ground-covering stride that I really thought he could do it. He did it easy. I was trying to be a little faster with Carlos because I knew that Brianne and Kevin were coming after me. But the second to last (jump) didn't show up quite the way I wanted, and I had to add a stride. But it all worked out.”

Both horses are new to Ward, who started with HH Cannavaro in January and HH Carlos Z in February of this year. “It's a restarted partnership with Hunter Harrison and Double H Farm, so it's very exciting for us,” Ward noted. “They're both really talented and very willing horses. It's nice that things are really starting to come together.”

HH Cannavaro, a 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Caplan, is “a bit like riding a big equitation horse,” Ward said. “He's very easy, he's very straightforward. He has massive jump, and he has a lot of quality. He doesn't want to touch the fences. Probably sometimes you'd have to say he's not the fastest horse in the world, a little bit like another great horse I had, Sapphire. But he's so willing that you can do distances and turns that you can't do on another horse.”

Describing HH Carlos Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z, as “very, very fast,” Ward said that he is “like a minibike.” He added, “He's a horse I've known for a number of years; he's a great winner. He's a wonderful addition to have in the string because he's a very competitive horse that can win every day.”

Hailing from Brewster, NY, just a few miles down the road, Ward has competed at Old Salem Farm for years and the shows here rank among his favorites. He remarked, “For many years it was a nice, national-level show, and it's really grown into pretty much an international event now. The Hakim family and the management have done such a phenomenal job with the facility. It's very exciting for us in this area to have this place, trying to run not only the great spring shows here, but the American Gold Cup and possibly some big, exciting events to come in the future. This area is behind it; it's a horse area.”

Final Results: $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix,
presented by The Kincade Group, Merrill Lynch
2   653 HH CARLOS Z     MCLAIN WARD   DOUBLE H FARM: 0/0/37.232
4   179 WINTU           LESLIE HOWARD     JANE CLARK: 0/0/38.758
5   504 KISMET 50       CANDICE KING     BELLISSIMO LLC: 0/0/40.325
6   153 SHORAPUR        KEVIN BABINGTON   SHORAPUR LLC: 0/4/37.384
8   383 WIRMA           BRIANNE GOUTAL     REMARKABLE FARMS LP: 0/8/39.162
9  1113 AIR FORCE ONE   KAMA GODEK    KAMA GODEK: 0/13/50.465
10  152 CORD 11         KEVIN BABINGTON    MECO EQUESTRIAN LLC: 4/72.357                   
11  782 VASCO           ADAM PRUDENT     PLAIN BAY SALES/PATRICK FLIN: 4/73.439                 
12  498 WISTFUL         DARRAGH KENNY    ALEXANDER LLC: 4/76.885