124th National Horse Show and Family Festival Wrap-Up
RELEASE: December 13, 2007
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Phelps Media Group
The 124th National Horse Show and Family Festival held hunter, jumper and dressage competition this year from December 5-9, 2007, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL.
Eleven years ago this month in Wellington, McLain Ward lost the American Grand Prix Association (AGA) Championships when he had one time fault and Margie Engle was the only clear round in the class. In this year's $100,000 National Horse Show Grand Prix FEI World Cup™ Qualifier, that situation was exactly reversed. On his new phenom Phillipa, Ward was the only clear round to win the class. Engle and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold finished second with one time fault, while Canadian Keean White and Vienna Rouge were third with two time faults.
The fastest four-faulter was Kent Farrington on Up Chiqui. His finish on Sunday was added to his second-place finish in Friday night's grand prix to give him victory in the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship, presented by Equine Motorcoach.
Ward rode out of the eighth spot in the order. He and Phillipa made the course look easier, and Ward had to wait and see if anyone could duplicate his performance.
"She's not very experienced, but she really is a phenomenal talent," Ward said of his mount. "It's kind of exciting because obviously Sapphire is still ready for the Olympics this year and to have this horse coming along really gives me a great one-two punch."
Six horses later, Engle was so close to making a jump-off happen. She and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold were feet above every jump, and as she rounded the turn to the last two jumps, Engle knew it would be close. She just missed a clear round by one-tenth of a second, finishing in 88.11 seconds for one time fault.
"I knew I was close," Engle admitted. "I always have to watch the time with that horse; he's a little bit of a hard horse to be quick with. Most of the long gallops were to careful verticals, and with him I have to slow up a bit to verticals. After the triple, I tried to gallop up as much as I could to the oxer, and to the last plank, I had to balance up there. I tried to hug the turns as much as I could on the ends. Even when I started it, I knew it was going to be close. Even naturally faster horses were close to the time, and after watching them, I knew I was going to be close."
Farrington and Up Chiqui were another pair that could threaten Ward, but it was not to be when Farrington had a rail at jump 13. His time of 84.27 seconds, however, was fast enough to put him into fourth place and secure his title of national champion.
Ward has won grand prix events before without a jump-off, and was certainly not disappointed that there was no second round. "There were a few at the end that I was nervous about. I was at the gate when Kent was turning the corner here, and my heart was beating hard because he was more than likely going to have a clear round. He's a real pain in the neck in a jump-off," he joked. "It's certainly nice when the day's work can be a little shorter. Winning is winning, whether with or without a jump-off."
Winning the grand prix today and not winning the national championship was a bit of a disappointment, however. "I'm thrilled that Kent won the national championship. It's a very prestigious award, and he deserves it as much as anybody. I certainly was trying to win that, and it was a little disappointing not to have done that. As I always say, consistency is the most important thing and he proved that," Ward said.Jumper Highlights
In their first competition together, Lutopia and Nicole Simpson won the $5,000 Palm Beach Post National Horse Show Welcome Stake, CSI, on Wednesday. Lutopia is owned by Jane Forbes Clark of New York City.
The first in the ring and the pacesetter for the majority of the class was Eduardo Salas Herrera of Mexico on RMW New Day. They had a clear round in a time of 69