On the opening day of week seven at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki, owned by Marilla van Beuren, Bob Russell, and McLain Ward, took home the title in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5* held in the International Arena on Wednesday, February 24, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
WEF 7 features CSI5* competition sponsored by Lugano Diamonds, along with a concurrent CSI2* from February 24-28. The week continues with Thursday’s $73,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 7, the $37,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.45m Classic CSI5* and $37,000 Griffis Residential 1.45m Qualifier CSI2* on Friday, the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5* as part of “Saturday Night Lights,” and the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI5* and $50,000 Griffis Residential Grand Prix CSI2* on Sunday.
Wednesday’s two-phase competition featured the work of course designers Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen (ECU), with 49 combinations contesting.Ward and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Catoki x Cartello B, raced to the finish line, leaving all the jumps up in a time of 28.86 seconds.
“He’s a very fast horse,” said Ward. “He doesn’t actually have the biggest stride but his legs are moving very quick so that allows you to just do your round. You don’t have to do anything extreme; he’s just such a fast type. You’re not really pushing the envelope a lot, and that’s why he’s so consistently at the top of these classes.”
Just one-tenth of a second behind was Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam with his ride for The Blue Buckle Group, Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Casantos x Action-Breaker, stopping the clock at 28.96 seconds. Meanwhile fellow Irishman Daniel Coyle found himself on the podium in third place with Amalia, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Arezzo Vdl x Kyacinthe owned by Ariel Grange, finishing in 29.02 seconds.
Ward and Catoki have already had success during the winter circuit picking up a grand prix win during WEF Premiere week along with a second-place finish in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5* during WEF 5. While their success in the ring is proven, their preparation for the horse show is anything but conventional.“We just turn him out,” said Ward. “I never ride him between shows. He lunges a tiny bit on the day he shows but you can’t really do much with him but show. Once he starts jumping, he’s so eager, so aggressive, we just try to mellow him out and let him put a little weight on. He’s like a little racehorse. We try to just keep everything low key and trust that he knows his job when he competes.
Source: Press Release