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Mclain Ward

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PAN AMERICAN GAMES, TORONTO 2015

After claiming a team Bronze medal, Mclain and Rothchild take the individual Gold medal

Ward’s first individual medal at a major championship.

“It’s certainly something I’ve dreamed about and worked towards,” he said. “It’s a very special thing. What can you say? This little horse keeps beating the odds, and I certainly would have to thank my father [the late Barney Ward] first for the opportunity, and François Mathy, because I wouldn’t have had him if it weren’t for them.”

Ward, who also credited his whole team for the win, looked to the sky as he finished his jump-off round in a nod to Barney, who took a chance on “Bongo,” an unconventional type with a huge heart.

“I hope he can see what the horse is doing,” he said. “I fought him to the point where I hung up on him a couple of times not the buy the horse. He bought it anyway and thankfully so! It’s the last horse that I ride that he picked out, and I think that, a little bit like my father, this horse defies the odds a bit. He doesn’t really look like he should be a show jumper, he doesn’t really go like he should be a show jumper, and yet, he’s won a couple million dollars, a bunch of big grand prix classes, and now the Pan Am Games.”

SPRUCE MEADOWS 'NORTH AMERICAN TOURNAMENT' 2015

CSI 5* SATURDAY JULY 4TH

McLain Ward and HH Azur Clear Three Rounds to Win $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup

The stars aligned for McLain Ward (USA) and HH Azur to earn a major victory in Saturday’s $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows. There are not many major competitions left in the world that Ward has not won, but he will now have his name etched in history in one of the sport’s most prestigious events aboard a rising young star.

It was a storybook ending for Ward, who earned his first win in the prestigious competition with three perfect rounds to take home the winner’s share of $132,000. Madden and Cortes ‘C’ had trouble in the jump-off and ended up retiring, but still took home a substantial $80,000 check for their second place finish.
“It means a lot,” Ward said of his victory. “It is a competition that I have always really coveted and always wanted to win. I think I have come here with a lot of very good entries, including Sapphire, over the years and taken a good shot. I am very excited about this horse in my life, so to see her step up in her first major grand prix is great. It is an incredible horse.”

It was a hard fought battle through three rounds of competition for Ward and HH Azur, and the nine-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui) was the only horse to complete all three rounds and clear every obstacle.

“I do not think I have sat on a horse like this,” Ward stated. “I knew she could do it well, but there were so many things that she had not seen - the bycicle jump, the Chinese wall, the double LIverpools. There were so many questions, and that is what makes her so unique; you put it in front of her and she answers the question every time. Every time we have stepped her up or set a benchmark, that is how she has responded.”

HH Azur is a horse that is owned in partnership by Hunter Harrison‘s Double H Farm and Francois Mathy. As Ward explained, a lot of things had to happen for him to get to where he is with the horse today.
“You wonder in life if certain things are meant to be, because I probably did everything not to get this horse for a while and still ended up with her,” he noted. “I had a great partnership with Hunter years ago and we reunited a couple years ago. He is an incredible man, and sort of a father figure in my life, and Francois Mathy even more so. He was my dad’s partner for 30 years and I have worked with him since I was 17. He was a great rider, an Olympic medalist, a great horse dealer and horseman, and a real inspiration for me. He basically told us about this horse, and said he was 70 years old and he wanted to own a great horse in the sport and would sell us half. They own it together 50/50 and it is a pretty exciting situation.”

Speaking about each round with HH Azur, Ward detailed, “I was actually really nervous for the competition because I think so highly of the horse. I did not want to let the horse down; I wanted it to go well. She felt like she cantered around the first round really easy. I thought it was a great course because in the first round you had a pretty wide level of competitors - you had the best in the world here and you had some people getting their feet wet at this level. Santiago did a beautiful job of weeding that out.”

“The second round was big,” Ward continued. “The double Liverpools are always a difficult test and I thought it was particularly short today with two verticals, but she handled it beautifully. Then I figured in the jump-off with just Beezie and I, I would take a shot. The worst I could be was second.”

HH AZUR

spruce meadows 'continental tournament' 2015

CSI 5* FRIDAY JUNE 12TH

HH Carlos Z wins $40,000 AtlaGas Cup 1.45m

“He is like a little ATM,” Ward said of the 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chellano Z x Voltaire). “He reminds me of a mare that I had years ago called Goldika, who was very similar. She was a little, pretty bay just like him, and she could also step up. She also jumped the grand prix here at the ‘Masters’ great one year, but could win any class at the show. She was a bit of an ATM too, so it is always nice to have a horse like that in your string.”

“I was lucky to go at the end,” Ward remarked on his jump-off. “I did not see Hardin’s round, but I know that he is a very fast rider and he is always really competitive. I believed that we could get four strides down the first line, and I actually maybe even over did the first jump because I got the four easy. I had a little slip; the horse could have refused easily there, but he is a trooper and he jumped it. We got away with that, and then I pushed on to the last and it worked out great.”

McLain and HH Azur take 2nd in $126,000 Scotiabank Cup 1.55m

CSI 5* SUNDAY JUNE 14TH

McLain Ward and Rothchild repeat victory in $210,000 CP Grand Prix

Todd set a hell of a jump-off round,” Ward noted. “I did not need to see it. I knew what the time was and I had seen Spooner. I knew I had to do the best I could. I was a little bit lucky at the second to last, but my horse scrambled over it. Then there was nothing really to lose to the last and it worked out.”

“I did notice Eric slip; it was hard not to notice,” Ward detailed. “I always think in that situation, especially a competition of this caliber, you cannot make the choice to then go wide. It is really not an option to go wide because then you lose, so I knew I was going to try to turn. I also slipped a little bit, but I got away with it and then I was lucky to pick up on a good distance to the last. The horse really came through strong to the last fence because he had helped me out a little bit. It was a hard question to ask him.”

Ward and Rothchild, a 14-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding (Artos x Elegant de L’Ile), were recently named to the U.S. team for the Pan American Games in July. With that on the horizon, as well as the chance to earn back-to-back victories in the grand prix, the rider was hoping for a good result.

“It is always hard to defend a win because there is nowhere to go but down,” he admitted. “I was really happy with it. We have been trying to build Rothchild up for the Pan Am Games. He has had a slightly up and down year. I jumped him here on Thursday and ended up actually scratching him on Friday because a storm was blowing in right when I was going to go. He is not a great horse in the rain and at this point in his career I don’t need to force the issue, but it paid off well. I am really thrilled that he is in good form and I hope we can just try to maintain that into the Pan Am Games in Toronto.”

Rotchild CP Grand Prix 2015

Spruce meadows 'national tournament' 2015

CSI 5* Thursday June 4th

Mclain Ward and HH Carlos Z take $34,000 ATCO Pipelines Cup

On Thursday, Carlos had to be close to perfect to take the top prize after Irishman Conor Swail put up a quick time of 39.89 seconds in the jump-off. Swail had a small slip-up heading into the third jump, though, and that opened up enough of an opening for Ward to take advantage and slip in with a time of 39.54 seconds to take home the $8,500 top prize.

Ward and Carlos will be back in the International Ring together again Saturday for RBC Grand Prix. It’s a rare horse that can win both 1.50-metre and 1.60m events in the same week, but Carlos’ adaptability that’s made him such a winner over the years at Spruce Meadows.

“I don’t think he’s ever left a show without a cheque,” Ward said. “He does some things you don’t think he should be able to do, but he’s a real tryer and a fighter and like I always say … he’s a horse that on any day is worth getting dressed for. “Carlos is an unbelievably competitive horse — win-win-win.”

HH Azur 5th in $85,000 ATB Financial Cup
Mclain and Azur finish 5th in a competitive 20 horse jump off in the 1.55m

CSI 5* FRIDAY JUNE 5TH

Mclain and HH Azur claim victory in $35,000 1.50m RBC Capital Markets Cup

“So many things had to happen for me to end up with this horse, it is incredible,” Ward detailed. “I tried her as a five-year-old and did not buy her. Several other top riders for one reason or another had a chance at her, and it did not happen and it came back around. It really makes you wonder that things are meant to be. We ended up buying her in December. Mr. Harrison bought half of her from Francois. Francois is a horse dealer, so by nature he normally would not stay owner of a horse like this, but he is so excited about the horse and we have such a close relationship. I think he really wanted to enjoy the sport, so that is something incredibly special for me. We came to Florida, and with quarantine we started a little bit late and took it slow. She came on very strong at the end and since then has not lost pace.”

“I think she is an absolutely incredible horse,” Ward declared. “It is really exciting for me. The two owners of this horse are people who are in every way role models for me and parent-like figures in my life. They are people who have really done a lot for the sport, and to come across a talent like this and be able to develop her and try to go to some of the greatest places in the sport is really exciting. The horse is like a machine. It does not matter what you do, she solves the problem and comes out ahead.”

On Friday night for example, HH Azur slipped in a tight turn during the second round, but kept it together and carried on to win the competition. A little luck was also on her side as several very fast competitors were still to follow, but ended up with faults.

“She is a phenomenal talent and she has jumped beautifully here all week,” Ward said of their start to the summer. “We had a great double clear last night in the 1.55m and she jumped well again tonight. I tried to be fast in the jump-off, but not do anything crazy. I do not want to do anything extreme at this point in her career, but I wanted to do enough to put a little pressure on. We were lucky that the likes of Conor and Eric (Lamaze) had a fence down.” In just several months, Ward has been impressed with HH Azur’s development and sees big things for her future.

“When we got her you could see all the parts there, but she is a big blood horse and she is sensitive,” he noted. “In some ways it actually reminds me of Sapphire. She has to learn to control her stride and that, already in four months, has been unbelievable progress. The horse is very intelligent and really does not seem to be phased by too much. Even tonight, she slipped coming back to that third jump and still kept her composure and powered up over the red oxer like nothing had happened. That is really her nature.”

azur

Sapphire Retirement/Devon Horse Show 2012

The week of Devon Horse Show was going an emotional one. Mclain Ward showed his Olympic hopeful Antares F in their first observation class and on the same evening would be retiring his two time Olympic mount, Sapphire.

The night started in tears for many, saying goodbye to one of the Worlds Greatest Show jumpers. The stands were full of fans of the amazing team the atmosphere was as exciting as when Sapphire would enter the ring to compete, although this time left u ntacked lead in hand by Mclain.
Directly after Mclain had to mount up onto Antares F and prove this horse would be able to follow in Sapphires steps and be part of the US Team for Olympics.
And that he did! taking first place in the $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon, which is the seventh time Mclain has taken the Blue Ribbon in this Grand prix, this time meant that little more knowing this really was the start to his road to the Olympics.

best part of her retirement no more diet for sapphire

Very sad day at Castle Hill Farm, Sapphire . Mclain's two time olympic gold medal partner retired

winning cn international million dollar gp, spruce meadows

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winning jump off round American Inviational, 2008

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Going into the lead, first individual round, WEG 2010

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Monday, May 14, 2012 was a very sad day at Castle Hill Farm. The decision was made that Mclain Wards two time Olympic partner was to retire.
Sapphire has been Mclain mount since she arrived in the states ten years ago nearly to the day.
Since has been part of the Castle Hill Family and the partnership successfully competed in two Olympics , two World Equestrian Games, Six World Cup Finals, winning CN Million Dollar International,Spruce Meadows masters and the Pfizer Million Dollar GP , Saugerties. and the list goes on of major achievements the pair have accomplished.
Proving to be One the Best Showjumpers across the world! Will be missed my thousands of fans world wide!