Five-time U.S. Olympian McLain Ward continued his winning ways on Friday at the 2023 Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, following up his gold-winning FEI Nations Cup performance in California with two consecutive victories in the Old Salem Farm International Arena. In the afternoon’s $65,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem presented by The Kincade Group, he was last to ride over the jump-off and used that position to his full advantage, piloting Sport Four USA LLC’s Quimi Del Maset to the win in a blistering time of 35.740 seconds.
Ireland’s Alan Wade designed a technical 16-effort track set at 1.50m for the $65,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem presented by The Kincade Group, a challenge that saw faults scattered around the course with delicate jumps and a tight time allowed of 74 seconds. Of the 47 horse-and-rider combinations representing 11 countries in the class, only nine rode double-clear over the initial phase.
Each rider finished faster than the last over the shortened jump-off track, until Hunter Holloway (USA) posted a time of 36.260 seconds aboard Pepita Con Spita, the 12-year-old Westphalian mare owned by Hays Investment Corp. with whom she earned bronze at the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals in April. Her lead held through the following two competitors, but then Ward and his 9-year-old C.D.E. gelding entered the ring, shaving off half a second by leaving out strides and making tighter turns.
“This was a very exciting win for this horse,” Ward said. “I have a great group at Sport Four behind me who helped purchase him in December from Daniel Bedoya, a Bolivian who’s based in Texas. We were very lucky to acquire him with the goal of championships in mind. We took our time with him in Florida this winter, and he’s won several classes we’ve entered, including another 1.50m. This is his next biggest start, and I’m very excited about his future.”
Holloway and Pepita Con Spita ultimately finished in second place, just 0.190 seconds ahead of third-place Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) on Otto BH. Tripping the timers in 36.450 seconds, Derbyshire and SMG Sport Horse LLC’s 11-year-old Zangersheide stallion repeated their Week 1 podium finish from Evergate Stables’ $40,000 New York Welcome Stake presented by Jumpr App.
“The track today was difficult and made for a very strong 4*,” said Ward, who is not only a competitor but also the Co-Chair of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows. “We have a very strong group of horses and riders competing, which is great to see. Old Salem Farm and a lot of the local people here made great efforts to make this show as spectacular as it is, and it’s great to see this level of competition come up here (to North Salem). I hope to see this event continue in this direction and provide some great sport in the years to come.”