McLain Ward is Ecstatic With His $35,000 Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show

Friday, June 29, 2001
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DARIEN, CT—June 27, 2001— McLain Ward guided Xtatic to a decisive victory in the $35,000 Ox Ridge Grand Prix, to cap a week of world class competition during the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien, CT, June 11-17, 2001. Ward, of Brewster, NY guided the 11-year-old Hanoverian to the blue ribbon over 14 others on wet day. Despite the rain, the footing held up well as the riders tackled the Anthony D’Ambrosio-designed course. The first round featured 13 fences and 16 efforts, and most faults occurred at the end of the course, where riders faced two 5-foot efforts at the in-and-out at 11AB and then a solid oxer on a bending line at fence 12 to another 5’ vertical at fence 13. In the end, seven pairs mastered the course and qualified for the jump-off. 

Quiet Winter Farm rider Callan Solem led off the jump-off aboard Ears To You. Their clean and efficient ride in 42.167 seconds set the mark for the others to follow. Ears To You, an 11-year-old chestnut gelding, left everything standing with room to spare. 

Gabriella Salick and the veteran Sandstone Laurin, the gray Dutch Warmblood stallion, kept the fences up but finished off the pace, stopping the clock in 44.093 seconds. 

Federico Sztyrie riding Granusha and Juliana Starbuck aboard Tirex each had a rail in the jump-off, ensuring that Solem’s lead still held. But then Ward entered the ring with Xtatic. The bay gelding maneuvered around the course with confidence, cleared each fence, and stopped the clock in 41.745, taking the lead by .422 seconds and relegating Ears To You to second. 

Laura Bowery and Amande Du Chateau toppled two rails in their jump-off round, and that left just Kristen Monchik and Haarlem to unseat Ward. Monchik, no stranger to victories at Ox Ridge, settled for a clear round in a slower time of 45.434 seconds for fourth place, just behind Salick. This was an impressive move up the levels for Monchik as last year she swept the $10,000 Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Prix, placing first aboard Wichita and second riding Haarlem. Monchik and Wichita repeated as victors in this year’s 10,000 Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Prix. 

Ward, 25, has been on a winning streak of late—on Friday at the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show, he rode Harry Gill’s Sasha to the top prize in the $5,000 C.L. Adams Co. Futures Class. He was named Leading Open Jumper Rider at the prestigious Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania two weeks earlier and also topped the $100,000 Budweiser Upperville Jumper Classic (VA) aboard Victor on June 10. Ward acquired Xtatic earlier this year from fellow grand prix rider Peter Pletcher, who had imported the Hanoverian from Europe. This was Ward’s first grand prix victory aboard the attractive warmblood.

The competition was also hot in the hunter rings, where hometown rider Cody Baird continued her domination in the junior divisions. Baird, 15, Greenwich, CT earned the Best Child Rider on a Horse honors after riding to the Grand and Large Junior Hunter Championships aboard October Farm’s Most Wanted and earning the Small Junior Hunter Championship with October Farm’s Allstar. 

For the second consecutive year Brianne Goutal was named Best Child Rider on a Pony. The young rider from New York, NY also added the Medium Pony Hunter Championship and Grand Pony Hunter Championship to her collection after riding Church Mouse to multiple wins. Professional rider/trainer Scott Stewart was hardly out of the blue ribbons as he guided mounts to eight championships and reserves. His most successful ride, Prove It, lived up to his name as he jumped to the First Year Green and Grand Green Hunter titles. The victories Stewart didn’t win seemed to find their way to Ken Berkley. He rode Susie Scally’s gorgeous chestnut stallion Rio Bravo to the Regular Conformation Hunter Championship and the Grand Hunter Championship. Clementine Goutal took first and second place in Sunday’s $2500 Howard Johnson-Darien Pony Hunter Classic. She rode Cloverleaf Farms’ Silver Spring, a medium pony, to first place and the farm’s small pony, Hillcrest Blue Windsome, to second place. Saturday’s action saw Amanda Starbuck take the top prize in the $2500 Reuters Junior Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic, riding Stepping Stone Farm’s Rio Bronco. When Sunday’s equestrian action broke between morning and afternoon classes, the 2001 Ox Ridge Floral Jump Contest, sponsored American Airlines® - Coach With More Class - took center stage in the grand prix ring. Six area florists and nurseries competed in this year’s event, which was judged by Frank Laning, Floral Designer, Flowers By Laning Ltd., of Chappaqua, NY, Mark Sorosiak, Landscape Architect, M.A.S. Group, Woodbury, CT, and Andrew Stewart, Landscape Designer, Young’s Nursries, Inc., Wilton, CT. The contestants, who spent many hours prior to the afternoon’s main event in the ring designing Grand Prix jumps, demonstrated a wide variety of designs. The winning masterpiece was completed by Round Meadow Landscapes, Inc., of Darien, CT. Their team topped last year’s victors, Oliver Nurseries of Fairfield, CT, who took the second place ribbon.

Everyone’s efforts were well worth it because they were competing for round-trip air transportation for two to any domestic or Caribbean destination served by American Airlines® - Coach With More Class - the Official Airline of the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show. The prestige of this top rated show continues to draw sponsors including Brooks Community Newspapers, C.L. Adams Company, Reuters and American Airlines® - Coach with More Class, which served as the Official Airline of the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show. Miller’s Harness Company honored the best equitation rider in the prestigious Ox Ridge Equitation Classic. Watson Wyatt Worldwide sponsored the Small Junior Hunter Division, while Action Trailer Sales provided the awards in the Large Junior Hunter Division. Scudder Private Investment Counsel sponsored the Small Pony Hunter Division along with Best Child Rider on a Horse and Equitation 15-17 flat. The Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show continued its long tradition of supporting Darien’s Center for Hope, which provides professional counseling, education and support to adults and children who are living with a life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one. 

The Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show returns to the Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien for its 73rd installment June 10 – 16, 2002. For more information call (203) 656-1743