Tampa Equestrian Festival Week Three Wrap-up
RELEASE: April 11, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Phelps Media Group
Photo by Randi Muster (McLain Ward and Sapphire captured the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational CSI***)
After a nearly hour-long break because of inclement weather, McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, and his veteran mount Sapphire returned to the ring to complete their first round-course. Their clear trip in the first round and one time fault in the jump-off gave them the win in the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, CSI***, presented by The Tampa Tribune
and Sweetbay Supermarket. Richard Spooner and Cristallo finished second, while Christine McCrea and Promised Land were third.
With rain and storms threatening and people nervously checking radar screens all evening, everyone's worst nightmare came true when the 23rd horse was on course at 9 p.m. Riding through the rain, McLain Ward and Sapphire jumped through the triple combination at fence 6 and were clear over fence 7 when the winds hit. Nearly simultaneously, almost every jump on course blew over. Ward and Sapphire did not bat an eye, but the tone sounded for him to stop. He exited the arena, and the class was put on hold until 9:50.
Ward came back on course nearly an hour later. He said, "I was halfway done, so I had to take that into consideration. She had already made a great effort not to go back and try and complete it." He was allowed to use jump number 1 as practice, and then he resumed the course at jump 8. Sapphire jumped with ease in the rain and finished their first round-course with no faults. Ward commented, "She was spectacular. The question that was asked when I had to come back in the first round was remarkably difficult."
Ward and Sapphire, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, were the last to go in the jump-off and had the luxury of only needing to produce a slow, clear round. That is exactly what Ward did. He made the outside turn to the one stride and continued through the rest with no jumping faults. His time of 47.21 seconds did give him one time fault, but it was enough for victory.
Ward believes that his horse was due a big win. "I've been close here a few times but come up short. I think it's nice for Sapphire. I think she's one of the best horses in the sport in this country. She's been second and third a lot in big classes and jumped a lot of clear rounds in Nations Cups. I'm very happy for her and for her owners that she gets the recognition for winning this class."
Proving they are one of the top hunter combinations in the country, Jennifer Alfano of Buffalo, NY, and Rock Star, owned by Bright Star 158, LLC, and Jennifer Burger, won the $20,000 ASG Software Solutions USHJA International Hunter Derby. The event was held on Sunday, April 6, at Jenny Sutton's Wrenwood Farms in Naples, FL. The high-performance hunter class benefited the Naples Equestrian Challenge Therapeutic Center.
Rock Star and Alfano had a great first round and received a total score of 179. They were tied for first place in points, but were awarded third place in the first round by the tiebreaking score of the judges at position one.
The second round was a handy hunter round. Alfano picked up the gallop to the first jump and kept a consistent pace with good turns. Rock Star jumped every jump out of stride in perfect form. Alfano and Rock Star received unbelievable scores of 93 and 95 from the two judging positions. They received another 18 points for handiness for a second round-score of 206. They won Round Two by 20 points. Their overall combined score for the two rounds was 385, which gave them the win in the event by 10 points.
Alfano was thrilled to win another hunter derby with Rock Star, who she said loves showing and competing in these classes. "I think that he is truly a show horse," she remarked. "He can tell this is a big event. He loves to show and do different stuff. I'm still constantly amazed by what a great horse he is."
Torano received first and second places in Tuesday's 1.30m Jumpers. He rode Lord Franco for Gigi Stetler of RV Sal