McLain Qualifies Three Horses For Jump-Off
While Minikus was a deserving winner, when Ward, Brewster, NY, had three of the six horses in the jump-off it seemed like they might have had a chance to take their second victory at the Festival. On Friday, Ward rode Rio to win the $25,000 Festival of Champions Grand Prix ahead of Engle, Wellington, FL aboard Perin.
But as luck would have it Cameo was the only horse he rode clean (0/49.122 seconds) in a time that was just fractions slower than Todd's time of 0 faults in 47.944 seconds.
Surprisingly, Cameo is his newest mount. Before Ward started riding her, the horse had some problems stopping with another rider. So, Ward has taken his time with the mare, noting, "I can't go full blast. She is very careful, very rideable but has a little bit of a confidence issue."
With Victor, who McLain says is the "fastest horse I have ever ridden," he had a trip early in the course and "I thought I had to make it up." Instead they got going too fast and had two rails down for eight faults but in a time of 46.761 seconds, which was good enough to win the class if they had gone clean.
His last chance as the last rider to go in the jump-off was on Rio, but in an attempt to try an inside cut to an in & out combination, the turn was just too tight. Amazingly, Rio somehow managed to jump both jumps beginning from an almost parallel position to the first jump. In the process, they knocked rails down and accumulated eight faults. Their time was 51.606 seconds.