All eyes were on McLain Ward, of Brewster, New York, and Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms, on Friday as the dynamic duo swept yet another FEI competition, this time the $100,000 Coachella Valley Classic at National Sunshine Series II. Besting a field of 31, Ward took home the blue ribbon and his $33,000 piece of the prize.
Of the entries only eight went clear over the round one course set by set by Alan Wade, of Tipperary, Ireland, to secure a spot in the jump-off. The second round began and it was evident that the abbreviated course was challenging with the first horse retiring and the next three receiving four or more faults. That all changed when Eric Navet, hot off his Week I $30,000 SmartPak Grand Prix win, made his way into the stadium, fifth in the order. Navet gave onlookers the first clean round of the jump-off and finished with a time of 49.30 for the lead.
Sixth in the order was Ward and Rothchild, who together placed second in the CP $1 Million FEI CSI-5* at HITS Saugerties this past September. In true McLain Ward fashion, he pulled out all the stops and sped through the course, leaving it undisturbed and crossing the timers at 45.95 to claim a spot at the top of the leaderboard.
Jamie Barge and Luebbo, owned by Kylie Co., anchored the order of go and after watching the other seven trips, they knew what to do. Barge guided her 10-year-old grey Oldenberg over the fences to finish clean and fast, in a time of 47.04, for second behind Ward and bumping Navet to third.
Fourth place was awarded to Kent Farrington and Gazelle, owned by Kent Farrington LLC and Robin Parsky, followed by Paris Sellon and Adare, co-owned with Willow Grace Farm in fifth.
HITS next FEI CSI-5* event will take place Desert Circuit III, February 2-7, of the HITS Thermal Desert Circuit in Thermal, California. The HITS Thermal Prize List available online, here. For more information, please visit HitsShows.com.