2008 Washington International Horse Show Wrap-Up
RELEASE: October 28, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Jennifer Wood and Jenny Underwood
The 2008 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) was an exciting and fun event for riders and spectators alike. The six-day competition offered more than $400,000 in prize money, held exciting nighttime sessions full of exhibitions and demonstrations, and hosted some of the best hunter and jumper competition in the country.
The highlight event of the week was the $100,000 President's Cup Grand Prix, which was won by two-time Olympic Gold medalists McLain Ward and Sapphire. Angel Karolyi of Venezuala and Ron Krise's Sun God finished second as the only other double clear, while Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL, and Pavarotti were third.
Ward and seven other riders were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off over the Richard Jeffrey-designed course. In the jump-off, Karolyi and Sun God were the first to attempt the shortened course. They went for the clear round with a little speed to put pressure on the other riders following. With the exception of a slip in one turn, Karolyi executed his plan beautifully. They finished with no faults in 39.47 seconds.
Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Pamina L gave a huge bid in the jump-off when they sped around the turns, had a long effort at jump 9, and galloped down to the final oxer. Pamina just barely tipped the back rail on the final jump, and it fell to the dismay of the crowd for four faults. Engle finished in 34.94 seconds and took fourth place.
Next in, Todd Minikus and Pavarotti, were another duo that could offer a big chance for speed in the jump-off. They ended up with the fastest time of the night, 34.80 seconds, but it came at the expense of a rail at jump 7c. They took home third place.
Ward and Sapphire were next to attempt the jump-off. They approached the first jump, a vertical straight on the rail, to an easy distance and Sapphire took a stutter at take-off. They cleared the jump and then made it down the forward four-stride line. Ward then opened up the mare's stride, and they cruised through the rest of the course. He galloped hard down the last line, and Sapphire sailed over the final oxer with room to spare. They finished clear in a winning time of 35.79 seconds.
Ward and Sapphire's record speaks for itself and the 33-year-old rider has amassed many of his biggest achievements with the 13-year-old mare. "She's obviously incredible, and our sights are on the World Cup in Las Vegas and the World Championships after that. I've been so blessed; all of us have, to have this horse in our lives. She keeps doing and doing for us. There's nothing I can do to thank her enough. We have a lot of goals still that we want to accomplish; there's a lot left on the plate," he said. "I'm so lucky to have the team of people around her; Lee, Erica, Carrie, Jenny, Thomas Grossman, and my father. They make my life very easy."
While Ward has two Olympic Gold medals and over 100 grand prix wins, his victory tonight at Washington still holds significance. "It means a lot. This is one of the most coveted grand prix in America. I actually came here this year with a strong desire to win. I like to win every day, but sometimes a little more than others. I really came up with a plan for here."Jumper Results
The 2008 Washington International Horse Show opened up jumper competition on Wednesday. In the $10,000 WIHS Children's Jumper Championship, O'Mara and Raya de la Cour were one of 15 pairs to advance with a first-round clear to the jump-off. O'Mara went seventh in the jump-off and lowered the leading time to 23.900 seconds with a second clean round. The last to go in the jump-off was Zoe Glassman on Nobilis. They were clear in 24.078 seconds to finish in second place.
O'Mara has owned the 13-year-old mare only since this past January and calls Raya her "perfect match." O'Mara trains with Mary Babick and Mary Donner and was excited to compete again at the WIHS.