Pennsylvania National Horse Show Update
RELEASE: October 25, 2007
Gambler's Choice Pays Off for Ward
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Heidi Hill
If you play your cards right, like McLain Ward did in the $10,000 Gem Twist Gambler’s Choice on October 18, you could win. For Ward, his hand is his daring and skill combined with his hold card—Larioso. The bay Selle Francais gelding, owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock, dealt with the 11 options with due alacrity, acquiring a high score of 990 prior to successfully clearing the final fence, the 1.4-meter Joker. The pair scored 1,190 points to shiver past Leslie Howard at 1,180 and Todd Minikus at 1,170.
“He’s a very fast horse,” said Ward. “And, he’s very careful. He won this class at Washington two weeks ago. I wanted to get his confidence up and prep him for Saturday’s Grand Prix. Doing this class makes the horse concentrate.”
“My plan was to keep it simple. Sometimes, if you get too fancy, you can shoot yourself in the foot,” he said. Also he acknowledged that Laura Chapot, speed fiend exemplar, was not in the class, which made it easier.
The Gambler’s Choice allows each competitor to customize a course of fences for their horse. The value of the fence depends upon the difficulty either in height or width. Riders know what the values are and have a final opportunity to bet 200 points that their mount can clear the highest fence. Of course, if the Joker is lowered, so too is the score. All three top finishers chose and cleared the Joker, so the difference in their rounds was route and speed.
For Howard on Lady in Red 4, she was pleased. “My horse did everything I asked her to do. Ward was just faster,” she said.
Minikus was pleased with Ultimo Van Ter Moude’s effort. The flashy gray stallion lashed his tail as well as kicked out between fences and even added a few half bucks. He seemed like bottled lightening—yearning for more speed and bigger fences than his rider thought best. Still, his performance was exciting for all his sass.
Several just-out-of-junior amateurs bellied up to this table and played great cards. Hillary Dobbs, winner of the Junior Jumper Individual Championship last year, turned in two rounds with final scores of 1,150 to earn prize money for both. Of the 19 entries, all but two chose to try the Joker. Only three were not successful and two others took too long to jump it and despite clearing it, the score did not count. Ever After—Happily
It wasn’t quite sunset on Monday, October 22, when 15-year-old Lauren Wentworth and Ever After rode happily off with the North American League (NAL) Children’s Hunter Championship. She has shown Dion, as he is known in the stable, for two years, but this is the first year they’d qualified for the NAL Final. In fact, they only qualified earlier this month.
Thrilled at the opportunity to ride in the NAL Children’s Hunter finals at Harrisburg, she admitted to being surprised by how big the arena was, but she stuck to her new routine of prepping herself to win.
“I was planning on winning,” she said. “My mother shared this book, It’s Not Just About The Ribbons
, with me. It’s about getting yourself ready, mentally, to compete. I like to watch Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man
. It inspires me,” the high school sophomore said.
Her trainer Mike McGowan makes her growl before stepping foot in the ring, and “that makes me more aggressive,” she said mildly. She and 18-year-old Dion are a well-matched pair. Both are modest about their talents. She joined McGowan’s barn when she was seven. Dion, who is owned by Janet Jones, has been with McGowan for six years and is a well-known commodity in the barn. “He’s quite modest,” said McGowan. “He hates the victory gallop. He doesn’t like being in the ring alone, won’t take treats, no bribes, very honest—perhaps the most honest horse I’ve ever met. They make a great pair.”
Their consistency, scores of 85 and 83 for the two rounds, indicates the