Olympic Gold Medalist Ward Defends Title At The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows; Other Top Honors Awarded
RELEASE: May 14, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Violet Forbes
Two-time Olympic team Gold medalist McLain Ward successfully defended his championship in the $40,000 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix to cap off the first week of competition at the Old Salem Spring Horse Shows on the picturesque grounds of Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY.
One of the top horse shows in the country, the Old Salem Spring Horse Shows offers more than $500,000 in purses and runs through May 17. A portion of all ticket sales benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater NYC.
Ward, of Brewster, NY, and Phillipa, an 11-year-old chestnut mare owned by Sagamore Farm, were one of six combinations out of a starting field of 29 to navigate the first-round course fault-free. "I think the course was just testy enough," said Ward. "Not massive because it is still early in the season. Michel (Vaillancourt) is a great course builder; I am a big fan of his. This was a rider test, and I think he had it just right; which is always easy to say when you are winning!"
Laura Bowery and Indy Star II were the first to go clear and returned to the second round and again were fault-free in a time of 38.80 seconds. Ward was the next to go, and he also posted another clear in a time of 34.83 seconds making Phillipa's time the one to beat.
"I had four very fast horses behind me," said Ward. "I was certainly aware of that. I knew that if I didn't put the pedal down enough they could certainly catch me, and I'm never 100% confident until it is over. Phillipa is a phenomenal horse and has won some very big grand prix. She has actually been getting better and better with more experience. I think that she really jumped class in both rounds. She's really been knocking on the door, and I thought she did it quite handily today."
Callan Solem aboard Mianta were going strong until they brought down the pink Susan G. Komen For the Cure fence and crossed the timers in 36.20 seconds for third place. Brianne Goutal and the flashy paint Mon Gamin did not have a lucky start to their jump-off round, as they brought down the first fence and had to settle for fourth place after posting a time of 37.65. Norman Dello Joio, always a threat in a jump-off, did have the time, but Scarface brought down the last two fences for an eight-fault total. Judy Garofalo Torres and her Oliver had two rails down in the jump-off, including the in a time of 36.65 seconds to finish in sixth place.
Changing from the grass field to the sand ring did not bother Ward or Phillipa at all. "We are actually more comfortable in this venue nowadays with the all-weather footing," Ward remarked. "The owners here at Old Salem have done a fabulous job and the result showed today. We do train especially for this grass field, and it is a shame that the weather was a little rough the past 10 days, but that is springtime. The field is in really good condition but no grass can handle that amount of rain. It should be great for us next week. I always want to perform well, and it is certainly nice to perform well this close to home. And I like sleeping in my own bed. This is such a horse area it is a great atmosphere for this event, and I love coming to Old Salem."Carita Was Picture Perfect with Teri Kessler
Teri Kessler of Armonk, NY, fell just short of a clean sweep of all the classes in the amateur owner hunter 36 years and over division while Stephanie Riggio of New Your, NY, was vying with herself for the title of Amateur Owner Hunter 18-35 Champion at the Old Salem Spring Horse Shows.
Kessler did not have to worry about how many championship title points she had garnered with Carita, a 10-year-old Holsteiner. After winning four classes out of five, and coming in second in that class, it was a certainty that she and Carita would be champion.
Horses are a family affair for the Kesslers. Teri's daughter Reed competes in the equitation, junior hunter and jumpers and her husband, Murray, shows in the j