Thermal, CA - Mclain Ward traveled 3,000 miles to get a leg up on the competition in the race for the Pfizer Million. The two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner dominated the competition in Saturday’s $50,000 Strongid C 2X CSI-W Grand Prix aboard Sagamore Farm’s Phillipa and collected $15,000 in first-place prize money.
Ward (Brewster, New York) put on quite a show for the executives from Pfizer Animal Heath, who were in the audience as he got the best of the 30 starters to challenge International Course Designer Leopoldo Palacios’ route and the six that went after the blue in the jump-off en route to winning the class.
The victory was the first of the 2010 season for Ward at HITS as he is now on the road towards qualifying for the Pfizer $ 1 Million Grand Prix that will take place on September 12 at HITS-on-the-Hudson, in Saugerties, New York. "It’s nice to get ahead of the game,” said Ward. “Obviously, I show a lot at HITS Saugerties throughout the year, but it’s nice to get the first win of the season and get some money in the bank.”
In Saturday night’s feature class, Ward outlasted a star-studded field in the jump-off as he put on a show for the packed house that filled the indoor arena at the HITS Desert Horse Park. “It was electric inside the arena,” said Ward. “HITS did a nice job dressing it up and the atmosphere was great.”
First to show in the jump-off was Karen Cudmore (Omaha, Nebraska) aboard Blair Cudmore’s Ulano. They had two rails down and finished sixth place at the end of the exciting class.
Second to challenge the track in the jump-off round was Keri Potter (Del Mar, California) and Rockford I. The pair entered the ring with a win in last week’s $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health and looked as if they would win their second big-ticket class of the circuit when they came home clean in 28.52. However, when the class was complete, they would finish in second place. “McLain is just too fast for all of us,” joked Potter, after the class.
There was a gold rush when Ward and his mare entered the ring in the third slot of the jump-off. They made the dash for the cash in 26.73 to put their stamp on the class and take the blue. “She was real fast tonight. The jump-off was suited for her,” said Ward. “I knew the best way to shave some time was to take a real tight turn between two and three. I did it in five strides.”
World Cup Veteran Harley Brown (Arroyo Grande, California) and Oak Park's Cassiato would show next. They had a rail down to finish in fifth place. Sixth to show in the jump-off was Canadian Olympian John Pearce aboard Forest View Farm’s Son of a Gun. They were the fastest of the riders with four faults and finished in third place.
California’s Susie Hutchison (Temecula, California) had the last chance to take down Ward when she rode El Dorado 29’s Cantano. They had an early rail down to push them into fourth place.
Show Jumping at HITS Thermal continues today with Desert Circuit II and features another qualifier for the Pfizer Million when the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health takes center stage in the outdoor arena.
In order to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, a rider must compete in eight or more HITS Grand Prix classes. The top 40 riders, based on money won by horse/rider combination, will be eligible to ride for the Pfizer Million. For more detailed information on the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, please visit our website at HitsShows.com.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS will take the industry to new heights when it hosts the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties on September 12.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
$50,000 Strongid® C 2X CSI-W Grand Prix
PLACING HORSE RIDER OWNER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Phillipa McLain Ward Sagamore Farms $15,000 0 0 26.73
2 Rockford I Keri Potter Keri Potter $11,000 0 0 28.52
3 Son of a Gun John Pearce Gerald Moore/Forest View Farm Inc $6,500 0 4 27.16
4 Cantano Susan Hutchison El Dorado 29 $4,000 0 4 27.88
5 Cassiato Harley Brown Oak Park Group $3,000 0 4 31.06
6 Ulano Karen Cudmore Blair Cudmore $2,500 0 8 29.61
7 Flexible Rich Fellers Harry & Mollie Chapman $2,000 4
8 Carino Guy Thomas Willow Tree Farm $1,500 4
9 Terrific John Anderson Foxdale Farm $1,500 4
10 Chianto John Pearce Gerald Moore/Forest View Farm Inc. $1,000 4
11 Melisimo Michelle Spadone Morgan Hill Partners $1,000 4
12 Cracky Z Lauren Hester Hester Equestrian Inc. $1,000 4
Photo Credits: McLain Ward in the $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix at HITS Thermal. © Flying Horse Photography
HITS' Account Executive for Corporate Sponsorship Lisa Engel, Pfizer Animal Health's Kristin Ruff and HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock congratulate McLain Ward after winning the $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix at HITS Thermal. © Flying Horse Photography