Great Britain’s Emily Ward made a splash in the Under 25 division at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) by winning the $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix CSI2* riding Millioninmind on Sunday, January 19, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. Closing out week 2 of WEF, Andrew Welles (USA) topped the $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.45m Classic CSI2* aboard Brindis Bogibo.
Fifty-five horses challenged Oscar Soberon’s (USA) opening track with 19 returning for a deciding jump-off. After winning the Hermès Under 25 Welcome just a day earlier, Ward wasted no time in establishing herself as the one to beat this season. She and Millioninmind, owned by Steven Barnes, stopped the clock in a quick 35.99 seconds over second-place finisher Sydney Shulman’s (ISR), who finished in a time of 36.18 seconds riding Jill Shulman’s Azilis du Mesnil.
“I’ve actually never competed in America before, but I am off to a great start,” said Ward, 20, who rides for Canadian Tiffany Foster’s Little Creek Equestrian. “We’ve owned Millioninmind since he was six years old, so we’ve had him quite a long time. He took me on my first senior Nations Cup team, and won my first international grand prix with me. Now, he has come over here and flourished.
“He’s super careful, so these types of classes are perfect for him,” said Ward of Millioninmind, a 12-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding by ARD VDL Douglas. “He loves to go fast, and he’s always looking for the next jump. I jumped the first line [in the jump-off] on the five, and then I had a really good shot back to b and c of what was the triple combination. [Millioninmind] knows exactly what he’s doing, and that’s where I knew I won it.”
Rounding out the top three, Catherine Wachtell (USA) finished third aboard Coverboy, owned by Autumn View Farm, in a time of 36.71 seconds. The 24-year-old rider hails from Chatham, NJ, and is in her second year of law school at Fordham University in New York, NY.