North Salem, New York, USA – May 21, 2022 – Fresh off his Friday wins in the $25,000 National 1.40-1.45m Jumper Classic and the $65,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem presented by The Kincade Group, five-time Olympian McLain Ward (USA) returned to the International Arena with his and Susie Heller’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood Faro to claim his third consecutive victory in Saturday’s $37,000 FEI 1.45m Jump-off presented by Fidelity Investments at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows. The pair stopped the clock at an unbeatable time of 35.790 seconds.
The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows are one of the premier stops on the nation’s hunter-jumper horse show circuit, offering a full schedule of world-class competition May 10-15 and May 17-22 that features the nation’s best in equestrian sport.
Thirty-seven entries representing ten countries challenged Alan Wade’s (IRL) 16-effort course for the $37,000 FEI 1.45m Jump-off presented by Fidelity Investments, with 12 moving on to the jump-off and only six finishing double clear. Mclain Ward (USA) and Faro had the fastest fault-free round, tripping the timers in 35.790 seconds and unseating Rodrigo Pessoa’s (BRA) time to beat of 36.500 seconds.
“It’s been a good week for both of us,” Ward said of his friend and rival Pessoa. “We’re both local here. I’m a lifelong resident of this area, and I’m very proud of the changes taking place here at the Old Salem Farm. Rodrigo and his wife are new residents of the area and are also very excited. I think it’s very motivating to see what’s happening here and have the sport living up to that as well. For me, this is one of the most beautiful parts of the world. It has a major horse area, a great community, and we’re very close to New York City. I think we can build off our new arena and create some of the best sport in the world.
“I was lucky to go after Rodrigo,” Ward added. “(Chili) is a new mount for him, so even though it’s a careful horse, I knew he wasn’t going to take all the risks. My horse is also a bit of a new mount for me but has a little more experience than his. I thought if I could be quicker from beginning to end without taking huge risks, I might nip him, and it was certainly good enough.”
Pessoa was first in the jump-off to go clean aboard Chili, a 10-year-old Westphalian mare owned by Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC, setting the time to beat at 36.500 seconds and ultimately earning second-place honors.
Raleigh Hiler (USA) and Kurt Hiler’s 13-year-old Oldenburg mare Cassina 64 finished third with 36.860 seconds.
“I think we’re going to have a great Grand Prix here tomorrow,” said Ward, who is also the Spring Horse Shows Co-Chair. “We have a great forecast, and as always here at Old Salem, we have a great audience to cheer us on. I have my old partner HH Azur, who I think still has some big wins left in the tank even though she’s more in the sunset of her career. I always tell her when I get on, ‘You don’t owe me a single jump, but if you could give me a few more, that would be nice.’ We like to have high-end sport here, and this new arena with these first weeks of shows really is the launching point. We have great plans for the future.”
1) McLain Ward (USA) & Faro – 0 / 0 – 35.790
2) Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) & Chili – 36.500
3) Raleigh Hiler (USA) & Cassina 64 – 36.860
Source: Press Release by Marty Bauman / Classic Communications for Old Salem Farm
Photos: © Randolph PR Photography