Harrisburg, PA—October 19, 2001—McLain Ward of Brewster, NY and his Dutch Warmblood Fior clinched the North American League $25,000 Open Jumper Speed Finals in a winning time of 64.179 seconds at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Friday evening. Ward was the last to go in the field of 23 riders, which proved to be the key to victory.
“I think the order helped me win the class,” said Ward. “I was able to see where I could make up time, because to be honest, Aaron looked unbeatable.”
Ward earned his valuable position by coming into the competition as the leader in the 2001 NAL Open Speed Point Standings. The order of go was determined by reverse order of merit with the highest in the standings going last.
Aaron Vale of Camden, SC, went fifth in the order riding the Australian Thoroughbred Nonixleparc, owned by Millstream, setting an incredibly fast mark of 65.400 seconds. Vale was feeling pretty confident as rider after rider failed to beat his time -- until Ward.
“I went early and put in a good trip, but got beat at the end,” said Vale. “I couldn’t take all the chances that McLain could by going last, so all I could do was put in a good trip and see if it held up. It almost did. I got beat at the end, but that’s what makes it exciting.”
There North American League (NAL) Finals conclude on Saturday with the $10,000 NAL Adult Jumper Finals featuring the top 30 horse/rider combinations that have qualified throughout the previous year.