Wellington, FL - Mclain Ward riding HH Carlos Z won the Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* in dramatic style at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida, after a three-way jump off to conclude the 12 week Rolex-partnered Festival.
Under the heat of the Florida sunshine and after a bold and testing first round course, the only three riders to go clear and through to the jump off were Mclain Ward (USA), Daniel Bluman (COL) and Georgina Bloomberg (USA).
Held under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in front of a packed 6,500 crowd, the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix is the most prestigious grand prix class held during the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival, and the competition did not disappoint.
Featuring 40 of the world’s top horse and rider partnerships, the Rolex Grand Prix was a truly global competition with riders from 13 nations, including from USA, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, France, Mexico, Columbia and Ireland. It was a star-studded line-up of riders bringing both top sport and style to the occasion with New York’s Georgina Bloomberg and also American show jumping champion rider Jessica Springsteen amongst the stellar competitors.
The Steve Stephens designed course was exceptionally tough, with some of the biggest and boldest fence combinations set over the whole 12 weeks, including the Rolex double and a line of triple oxers.
Just the three riders made it through to the jump-off, but each of them were to then have fences down themselves. Georgina Bloomberg was first into the arena and set a blistering time of just 44.39 seconds, but hit two poles down along the way. Columbia’s Bluman was next in and he flew around setting a new time of 41.64. Mclain was last to go and knew that he just had to go clear, but he too hit a rail and so then had to hold his nerve whilst cutting every corner where possible, which he did by 0.35 of a second.
Having now won the Rolex Grand Prix three times at WEF, Mclain Ward said, “Coming into WEF I didn’t think he would have been the horse I would have ridden tonight but he’s one of those horses that is always worth getting dressed for as he will always fight and try and dig and you really appreciate those kind of athletes. Luck was a little on my side tonight – but I have an incredible team behind me and I hope it is going to be a great season.”
The Rolex Grand Prix concluded another hugely successful Winter Equestrian Festival and the second year of its long-term partnership between WEF and Rolex, after the leading Swiss watch brand became the “Official Timepiece” of both the Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre and the WEF.
Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo said, “Mclain did a great job tonight and great competition. With the help of Rolex we have been able to have four 5* competitions which is really important for the sport, the venue and the riders. The crowd here tonight is the best we have ever had and its great to see that every week it's a build. There are 12 straight weeks of really, really high level spectatorship – this is something we hope to continue to build upon.”
Considered by many to be the leading circuit in North America, the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival is now firmly established in the global equestrian calendar and a major platform for the upcoming Championships and Grand Prix around the world.
Rolex Testimonees Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Kent Farrington and Eric Lamaze all qualified for the Rolex Grand Prix having each competed at the very highest level over the 12 weeks of the Festival. Eric Lamaze set a record for the most wins ever recorded in a single WEF season with five wins in the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series. Meredith and her beautiful grey Fibonacci 17 were the winners of the CSI 5* Grand Prix in week seven and Kent Farrington’s wins included the Suncast Championship Jumper Classic in week nine amongst many successes.
RESULTS, ROLEX GRAND PRIX CSI 5*
1st Mclain Ward (USA), HH Carlos Z
2nd Daniel Bluman (COL), Conconcreto Sancha LS
3rd Georgina Bloomberg (USA), Lilli
4th Margie Engle (USA), Royce
5th Lauren Hough (USA), Ohlala