Olympian McLain Ward Returns with the Golden Touch to Win the $75,000 Fidelity Investment Jumper Classic Grand Prix
RELEASE: September 9, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Kendra Cecieta and Anne Wargo
It may have been McLain Ward's first time at the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic, but it won't be the last after he came in and took the top prize on Goldika 559 in the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix.
"What better way to end the week then to have the sun shining, the field be in pristine condition despite torrential downpours the night before and an Olympic Gold medalist return to the ring on U.S. grounds and win the class," said esteemed course designer Linda Allen all the way from Fillmore, CA.
The Jumper Classic was Ward's first appearance right after winning the Gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Although Ward's Olympic mount Sapphire is still in quarantine on her way back from the Olympics, Ward could not have been any more ecstatic to come home to his steady mare, the 16-year-old Goldika 559.
"Goldika is a super horse that I have had for five years," said Ward. "The secret to her is to just stay out of her way and let her do what she does best and trust that she will come through. It is this strategy that has lead her to win classes all around the world. That is what my plan was today, and obviously it paid off for me today and that is super," he said with a smile.
With 23 entries in the class, just seven would jump clear in the first round in order to advance into the jump-off. Kevin Babbington, a member of the Irish Olympic team jumped clear on his first horse but was just seconds off the time and then pulled a rail on his second mount. Finally Nick Dello Joio would jump last and felt the pressure to step on the gas and almost fell off his horse in his valiant effort to grab the top spot. He quickly made an amazing recovery after getting unseated to the Animal Planet jump, but pulled the back rail in the process and ended with eight faults, which allowed Ward to secure the win.
"Since I was near the top of the order in the jump-off, I figured that I would need to put some pressure on the others by establishing a time that would hold up. I actually thought I was a bit wide on my approach to the liverpool and that if someone wanted to catch me, that was their window of opportunity. When I compete Goldika 559 she comes out with the desire to win. It was a competitive field today, so I am excited that that time stood up and happy to win the class.
"The staff at the Jumper Classic has been amazing, and I was really impressed with the venue," said Ward. "Considering the amount or rain we had the night before, the field held up much better than I anticipated. Linda Allen did a stellar job designing the course. The triple at the end was a challenge since it was the final element of the course and the horses tend to be tired at that point, which also requires an intense amount of focus for both horse and rider," he added.
The next stop for Ward will be the indoor show circuit, including Syracuse and Washington with both Goldika 559 and Sapphire. His focus will now shift to preparing for the World Cup Finals.It Pays to Go First for Graziano and Allure in the $15,000 Equine Insurance Services Speed Stake
Bright skies and drying breezes saved the day on Sunday at the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic, even though more than five inches of rain fell during the night. The first rider of the day, Darren Graziano, in the first class of the day, the $15,000 Equine Insurance Services Speed Stake presented by Great American, had the lead from the get-go and never looked back.
"I wasn't sure if it was a go or no go," he said, but the morning brought good news for the field of 25 riders. Being first in the line-up was a bonus for Graziano. "The best part about going first is you get the best ground after it rains that much," he said. His mount Allure was fast—the time to beat was set at 58.895. "She's a good mare and I know her quite well. We're in our third year together, and I'm much more confide