North Salem, N.Y. – Sept. 28, 2018 – Fresh off his gold medal victory with the NetJets® U.S. Show Jumping Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) in Tryon, North Carolina, exactly one week ago, McLain Ward returned to his home state of New York to claim his spot in the winner’s circle once again in the $80,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier CSI4*-W with new mount Contagious.
Friday’s featured event at Old Salem Farm brought forth 44 international combinations competing to qualify for Sunday’s $204,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ New York CSI4*-W.
A total of 14 athletes jumped clear over Ireland’s Alan Wade’s first round track in the Annex Ring, but almost half fell victim to time faults due to the tight time-allowed of 76 seconds. Only eight were able to produce fault-free rounds to move on to the jump-off.
Kicking things off in the tiebreaker was Canada’s Ali Ramsay aboard her own Hermelien VD Hooghoeve, finishing double-clear and going straight to the top of the leaderboard in 39.71 seconds.
Ward entered as third in the order riding the 9-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Beechwood Stables LLC and posted the next double-clear performance in 37.82 seconds to move into the lead.
Ward acquired the ride on Contagious just this summer, and the American Gold Cup is only the pair’s third show together. Their first victory came at the start of September in the $100,000 Hudson Valley Jumper Classic CSI5* at HITS Saugerties.
Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Imerald Van’t Voorhof, owned by Tequestrian Farms, LLC, and Charlie Jacobs (USA) and CMJ Sporthorse, LLC’s Cassinja S also completed the short course with no faults, but were not quick enough to catch Ward.
O’Shea finished second best in 38.10 seconds for runner-up honors, while Ramsay claimed third place and Jacobs rounded out the top four in 41.21 seconds.
In addition, Ramsay was also awarded the Hattie Banks Leading Lady Rider Award following Friday’s competition for her top finishes thus far at the American Gold Cup.
The top 40 athletes and horses from Friday’s qualifying competition will move on to compete in Sunday’s highly anticipated grand finale, which kicks off the eastern sub-league’s 2018/2019 season of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League.
For the fourth year in a row, the American Gold Cup has been selected as one of only seven events that comprise the East Coast division of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League. Athletes compete in the league at events all across North America in order to qualify for the prestigious Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, April 3-7, 2019.
Immediately following competition on Friday, the American Gold Cup hosted an exhibitor party at the Grand Prix Overlook with live music for athletes and owners to enjoy after a full day of competing.
The American Gold Cup’s Grand Prix Field picks back up with competition on Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at 12 p.m. and features an array of jumper classics, including the $35,000 Hermès Sellier Classic and the $70,000 Fidelity Investments® Classic CSI4*. The week culminates with the $204,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ New York CSI4*-W as athletes vie for the highly sought-after American Gold Cup on Sunday.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
McLain Ward (USA) – $80,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier CSI4*-W winner
“Contagious is a horse that was owned and produced by Reed Kessler for the last season and a half. Reed sent him back to America this summer. She has gone back to school and was keeping horses at my stable here. He turned out to be a really exciting horse. Lise Revers at Beechwood Stables and her daughter, Annabel, talked about maybe buying an interesting young prospect and the opportunity presented itself and here we are.”
On Friday’s win:
“This was probably the biggest class this horse has jumped. I stepped him up to the CSI5* grand prix in Saugerties a few weeks ago and he actually won that. This is only our third show together and I wanted to aim him this week at this class and see how he handled it to possibly jump him in the grand prix here. He obviously handled it really well. He’s a really fast horse and he’s very careful. When he handled the first round so well I knew we had a nice chance for the jump-off.”
On claiming team gold at WEG:
“[Tryon] was an incredible week. It was the week of a lifetime. It’s always so difficult putting those teams together and finding the right recipe. My student Adrienne [Sternlicht] really delivered a huge performance and Clinta was brilliant. There were so many things that were right about that and it’s one of the highlights of my life and career.”
On the American Gold Cup:
“This is a great event and it’s wonderful that this facility has the accommodations to deal with the weather we’re having. It is two weeks later this year to accommodate the WEG and we’re getting into the fall so we’ve had a little bit of rain. They have brilliant footing in the sand arenas here so we can still compete.”
On retiring Rothchild on Sunday:
“I’m just going to try not to let [Rothchild] kick me in the ring. I refuse to get on him in there. I know I will fall off if I do. He looks amazing. He is happier and healthier than ever. It’s nice to be able to retire him in such a good state. Obviously he had a brilliant career and he really was my buddy. That horse really defied the odds and did some incredible things and is probably pound-for-pound the best horse I have ever ridden because of the things he overcame. It’s sad to see his career end in one way, but it’s a great memory and he’s still healthy and happy so it won’t be so sad.”
$80,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier CSI4*-W
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Contagious / McLain Ward / USA / 0 | 74.21 / 0 | 37.82
2. Imerald Van’t Voorhof / Paul O’Shea / IRL / 0 | 75.28 / 0 | 38.10
3. Hermelien VD Hooghoeve / Ali Ramsay / CAN / 0 | 74.92 / 0 | 39.71
4. Cassinja S / Charlie Jacobs / USA / 0 | 73.65 / 0 | 41.21
5. Darry Lou / Beezie Madden / USA / 0 | 72.57 / 4 | 36.57
6. Redmond / Alberto Michan / ISR / 0 | 75.84 / 4 | 39.03
7. Skyhorse / Lillie Keenan / USA / 0 | 75.50 / 4 | 43.39
8. All In / Katherine Strauss / USA / 0 | 73.51 / 8 | 39.29
9. Hunters Conlypso II / Lorcan Gallagher / IRL / 1 | 76.03
10. Dougie Douglas / Katherine A. Dinan / USA / 1 | 76.09
11. Igor Van De Heibos / Tracy Fenney / USA / 1 | 76.33
12. Caracho / Lucy Davis / USA / 1 | 76.63