CSI 5*

McLain Ward & Contagious Soar to Victory in $100,000 Hudson Valley Classic CSI 5* at Hits Saugerties

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FEI riders returned to the Grand Prix Stadium at the Hits-on-the Hudson for the $100,000 Hudson Valley Jumper Classic CSI 5* last Friday, the third of four FEI classes at the Hits Championship Week CSI 5*, which culminates on Sunday wiht the $500,000 Saugerties Grand Prix CSI 5*.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) topped the field of 49 high performance athletes from across the country and around the world, representing the United States, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. The first round course yielded 14 clear round and half would end up jumping clean again the jump-off, all in pursuit of the blue ribbon, a custom cooler, trophy and the lion’s share of the purse.

With such a large field in the jump-off, speed was of the essence, as as the round profressed, the excitement grew with each rider seeming to top the last. While Ward’s winning time, almost 2 seconds faster than his nearest competitor, made for a convincing victory, the next four spots were spearated by just over half a second. “It’s good prize money and we were lucky that it cooled off a little bit. That made life a little easier for the horses and the ridrs,” sai Ward. “Mariana is a great course builder, she’s challenging and she’ll build big enough. She had a little bit of what we call a pinwheel, which I always think is difficult for horses. They’re not always sure where they’re going and you catch rails. She had probably the right number of clean out of all the entries in a class like this.”

It was a good day for the USA, taking all the top five spot, with Ward, Jonathan McCrea (USA) and Jimmy Torano (USA) as the top three.

Alexis Trosch (VEN) was the first to return for the short course. He and Cantara Z lead the way, cleared all of the fence in atime of 44.56 seconds, setting the Great American time to be beaten for the other 13 who would followed. Trosch’s time would be good enough for sixth place when the class was finished.

Next to challenge the track was David Raposa (USA) in the irons aboard S&L Sage. With a fifth place in Wednesday’s $35,000 Hits Saugerties Welcome CSI 5*, Raposa was eager to build on that success, and alaid down a clean fast round, crossing the timers in 42.77 seconds and setting a Great American time to be beaten. At the end of the class, he would again take home a pink ribbon.

Beth Underhill (CAN) and Count Me In, just off a win in the $500,000 Hits Chicago Grand Prix CSI 5*, crossed the timers with a clean round in 44.84 seconds. Her solid effort would give her a seventh-place finish, serving as great preparation for Sunday’s feature class.

The lead would change hand with each of the next three rides, as another double clear ride would be marked down, this time by Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Almighty. Vanderveen was slick and tidy over the shortened course, completing the course in 42.50 seconds. In the end, Vanderveen was awarded the fourth place ribbon.

Following Vanderveen and immediately taking oveer the top spot was Jimmy Torano (USA) and Glasgow de Muze (Andiamo x Parco), soaring to a time of 42.30 seconds. While Torano was fast, there were still competitors waiting to challenge the shortened course and Torano would finish in third place.

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McLain Ward (USA) & Contagious during the awards ceremony

Ward rode the shortened course next, in the irons aboard Contagious, a nine-year-old chestnut German Sport Horse gelding (Contagio x For Keeps). “Contagious is a brand new horse for us. Lisa and Annabel Revers of the Beechwood Stables in partnership with Max Amaya purchase him about three weeks ago and our first show was last week in South Hampton. We did two classes and he was great with a second and a win. This is our firt time showing him at FEI level, he had a nice clear the other day, and obviously, we wanted to step him up into this bigger class.”

Ward proved he’s ready for the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games – Tryon 2018 next week, and for Sunday’s Saugerties $500,000 Grand Prix CSI 5* as he and Contagiou shave two full seconds off Torano’s time, flying through the timers in 40.10 seconds. he’s done for the wek and will actually have a little break. I have the WEG to focus on and he needs to kind of digest the past two weeks and catch his breath.

Two riders were yet to go as Ward looked on hoping his time was good enough. It was Jonathan McCrea (USA) who would be the closest challenger aboard Win For Life (Winningmood Van De Arenberg x Chatman). With each fence, the crowd cheered him on, and as he crossed the timers everyone looked to the clock to see a time of 42.18 seconds, which secured them the second position. As Ward entered the winner’s circle, his smile said it all.

For full results, please click here.

Source: Press release from Hits Horse Shows

Photos: © Hits Horse Shows / ESI Photography