Toronto, Ontario -Two-time U.S Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward claimed the $205,000 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Toronto, presented by GroupBy, in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday night, November 10, at the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.
Ward topped a 21-horse starting field over tracks set by 2018 World Championship course designer, Alan Wade of Ireland, to claim the ninth Royal Horse Show World Cup title of his career. As the final challenger in the jump-off, Ward saved the best for last, executing a brilliant round to stop the clock at 32.42 seconds riding HH Gigi’s Girl. Ward’s U.S. gold medal teammate at the recent World Championships, Devin Ryan, posted a time of 33.88 seconds with his World Championship partner, Eddie Blue, to finish runner-up.
“It was nice to have the last spot in the order,” said Ward, who was presented with the Hickstead Trophy, given in memory of Eric Lamaze’s legendary 2008 Olympic gold medal partner, and a Longines timepiece for his win. “I know Devin and his horse are quick because he has beat me a few times. Sometimes you get lucky.
“This was a gymnastics test, which is what courses are now at the highest level,” continued Ward of Wade’s track, one that HH Gigi’s Girl, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Vingino x Celano) owned by Double H Farm, conquered with style. “The mare performed beautifully the whole second part of this year and is really putting things together, and it’s a great way for her to finish her season. She has always been a spectacular jumper and I feel she has a really exciting future.”
Ward, 43, estimates that he has been competing at the Royal Horse Show for almost a quarter of a century, saying, “I love it here. Obviously, I’m not Canadian, but I think of this as a second home. The show is being run beautifully and the organization is phenomenal. As you saw, we had a sold-out crowd, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
The victory earned Ward coveted qualifying points for the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Final, an event he won in 2017. The 2019 edition will be held next April in Gothenburg, Sweden. Ward, who had also won the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open one night earlier riding Tradition de la Roque, earned the Leading International Rider title.
Ryan’s second-place finish placed him closer to his goal of qualifying for the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Final after a spectacular year for him and his mount, Eddie Blue, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by LL Show Jumpers LLC.
“As I always say, take it one day at a time, but this year I am going to try to make it back to the World Cup Final,” he said. “We’ll see how the cards play out, but he’s had quite a big year this year, and I think he’s a really special horse, so I don’t want to over use him.
“You always think about what you would you have done differently,” continued Ryan, 36, of his position behind Ward. “I didn’t take quite the shot that McLain took. I probably should have tried it, but that’s show jumping for you!”
Ali Ramsay of Victoria, BC, posted the first clear round of the evening riding her 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, Hermelien vd Hooghoeve, and opened the jump-off by again jumping clear in a time of 34.62 seconds for third place.
“It’s always harder going first because you know you have to go clear,” said Ramsay, 26, who first attended the Royal Horse Show in 2012 when she won the Running Fox CET Medal Final. “I think my horse did everything I asked of her. We are really lucky to have this Canadian indoor venue here at The Royal and having this crowd is really unlike anything else.”
Great Britian’s Amanda Derbyshire also posted a double-clear performance in a time of 35.20 seconds to finish fourth riding Roulette BH for owner Gochman Sport Horse LLC, while New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley rounded out the jump-off field in fifth place after having a rail down over the short course aboard Barnetta, owned by Sky Group.
Athletes representing seven nations traveled to Toronto for the 2018 edition of the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 96th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and the more than 7,000 show jumping fans that packed the Coca-Cola Coliseum on Saturday night were treated to international show jumping at its finest.
The Royal Horse Show is fast approaching its centennial celebration and is getting better with every passing year, according to Charlie Johnstone, CEO of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
“The Royal is about the best of the best and we are thrilled with the experience that the customers had today, the show the riders put on, and to be part of the Longines FEI World Cup,” said Johnstone. “We’re in a good place and I think the future is very bright for The Royal and the Royal Horse Show.
“I think The Royal’s special in that we’re in the heart of downtown Toronto,” continued Johnstone. “It’s important that we have a show that’s not just show jumping; it really attracts people from all different sectors. There were folks I was speaking to tonight who had never been to a major horse show, and they were in awe of what was happening. Being in a venue that’s sold out with 7,000 people in advance, they knew they were walking into something that was going to be very exciting, and it exceeded their expectations.”
During the farewell to the 2018 Royal Horse Show on Saturday night, Keean White of Rockwood, ON, was presented with the Leading Canadian Rider Award. Additionally, White’s mount Leilani, owned by Lisa Marie Gauthier and Angelstone Farm, claimed the All-Canadian Cup as the leading Canadian-owned horse. The All-Canadian Cup was established by the late Susan Grange and presented by the Grange family representing Lothlorien Farm of Cheltenham, ON.
More than 1,000 horses from around the globe converged in Toronto to compete for $980,000 in prize money during the 10-day CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show, which returns to the Coca-Cola Coliseum from November 1-10, 2019. For more information on the Royal Horse Show, the marquee event of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, please visit www.royalfair.org/horseshow.
Funding support for The Royal has been provided by the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario.