Wellington, FL - This year's final $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup victory went to McLain Ward (USA) and Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms. This was Round 11 of the circuit series of Thursday grand prix classes and one of two final classes that count towards the $100,000 FTI Rider Challenge, which will be awarded after Saturday night's $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*.
Second place in the class today went to Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Ashland Stables & Torrey Pines' Hickstead, while Yann Candele (CAN) and Pitareusa, owned by Susan Grange, finished in third place.
The eleventh week of the FTI WEF is sponsored by FTI and runs through Sunday, March 28. The highlight grand prix event of the Winter Equestrian Festival is Saturday night's $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*. Festivities begin with the Leadline Class at 6 p.m. and the competition starts at 7:30 p.m. The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 4, 2010, and they will be awarding almost $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
The course designer for today's class was Conrad Homfeld of Wellington, FL. There were 47 entries in the class, and 12 were clear to advance to the jump-off. The time allowed played a part in today's class, with three riders finishing with one time fault.
The first to go double clear in the class was Candele on Pitareusa. They set the leading time at 40.79 seconds.
Five horses later, it was Olympic gold medalists Lamaze and Hickstead who lowered the winning time to 39.76 seconds with a very quick trip. Marilyn Little Meredith (USA) and Paul and Mary Loeber's Blue Curacao were also double clear in 41.42 seconds to finish in fourth place.
Ward and Rothchild would follow next in the jump-off. They were quick throughout, and despite a check into the double combination, their pace would get them the win. They had a very fast gallop to the final oxer and finished in 39.39 seconds for victory.
Ward said of his jump-off ride, "I have a little bigger stride than Eric does, so I knew I could do one less down the first line. That worked out well. I got a little hung up at the Spy Coast (oxer). The one place that I didn't risk it was to the double. This horse has a tendency to jump way into the combinations and both of his rails in jump-offs were in combinations because he jumped too far in. I was a little conservative there and then real fast to the last. It was a whisker."
The last in the jump-off was junior rider Reed Kessler on her own Mika. They finished double clear in 41.85 seconds for fifth place.
This was Ward and Rothchild's second win together, following their victory in a leg of the USEF WEG Selection Trials earlier in the circuit.
"He's been second a lot in the last year, but he was only eight years old. He's been amazing ever since we've had him. He was clear in both night grand prix, and in the Trials he was brilliant. He's done clear round after clear round and been unbelievably consistent," Ward remarked.
Ward realizes that Rothchild's unique way of going is also what makes him special, and he learned from Rothchild. "He was always an unbelievable talent, but a very special character with a funny way. It's an incredible lesson in horsemanship and compromise because I have to change my way to accommodate him, but the results come because of it," he explained. "We sometimes get set in our way of what we like. I'd like every horse to go like Sapphire, but that's not reality. He has a very strange way of going and you have to ride him in a gallop in two-point. He really doesn't like you to touch his mouth. His mouth is incredibly sensitive. At least the last stride, if not the stride out, I've got to drop him. That has never been my way. It's been really a hard adjustment for me, but a wonderful learning experience."
Ward also said that Rothchild's personality matches his quirky way of going. He described, "He's an incredible personality too. I think he's one of the smartest horses I've ever been around. He's a real people horse. He loves people, but he cannot stand other horses. He's an arrogant little bugger. He's one of those kinds of horses where he doesn't do everything exactly uniform, but he gets the job."
Tomorrow's jumper action will feature the $6,000 Spy Coast 1.40m Speed Challenge in the International Arena. The Third Annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Exhibition will be held tomorrow in the International Arena at 4 p.m.
Final Results: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 11
- 1. ROTHCHILD: 2001 SBS gelding by Artos xx Elegant De L'ile
- MCLAIN WARD (USA), SAGAMORE FARMS: 0/0/39.39
- 2. HICKSTEAD: 1996 KWPN stallion by Hamlet xx Ekstein
- ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), ASHLAND STABLES: 0/0/39.76
- 3. PITAREUSA: 1997 KWPN mare by Andiamo xx Legaat
- YANN CANDELE (CAN), SUSAN GRANGE: 0/0/40.79
- 4. BLUE CURACAO: 2001 BWP mare by Mr Blue xx Dark D Amour
- MARILYN LITTLE MEREDITH (USA), PAUL AND MARY LOEBER: 0/0/41.42
- 5. MIKA: 2000 Selle Francais mare by Nidor Platiere xx Etoile
- REED KESSLER (USA), REED KESSLER: 0/0/41.85
- 6. CHAMP 163: 1999 Holsteiner stallion by Kornblume xx Coronado
- RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), LEGACY STABLES LLC: 0/0/42.16
- 7. CONTINO 14: 1997 Holsteiner gelding by Contender xx Calypso I
- JONATHON MILLAR (CAN), MILLAR BROOKE FARM INC.: 0/0/46.10
- 8. URICO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Zandor Z xx Fedor
- MARIO DESLAURIERS (USA), JANE CLARK: 0/4/39.54
- 9. BALLADE VAN HET INDEHOF: 2001 BWP mare by THUNDER VAN DE ZUUTHOEVE xx HEARTBREAKER
- BRIANNE GOUTAL (USA), REMARKABLE FARMS: 0/4/41.04
- 10. GAEL FORCE: 1998 ISH gelding by Cavalier Royale xx unknown
- DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), MISSY CLARK: 0/4/41.64
- 11. ORIFLAMME D'HOUTVELD: 1998 SBS gelding by Darco xx Larome
- JEFFERY WELLES (USA), DUNWALKE LLC: 0/4/42.68
- 12. CORIANA VAN KLAPSCHEUT: 2002 BWP mare by Darco xx Heartbreaker
- ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), ARTISAN FARMS LLC: 0/4/46.37
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.
Photo Credit: McLain Ward and Rothchild won the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 at the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc., Official Sport Photographer of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.mustphoto.com.