McLain Ward’s two-time Olympic mount Sapphire has been elected for induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. The mare, along with Olympic veteran Margie Engle, will be honored during the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony at the Devon Horse Show in May.
Induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame is an honor bestowed annually upon select individuals whose contributions to the sport have set them apart and whose influence has had a significant impact on the sport of show jumping and the equestrian community. It is because of their talents, efforts, accomplishments, and what they have brought to the sport, that the Election Committee, comprising some of the nation’s top riders, trainers and officials, elected Engle and Sapphire as the class of 2020.
Sapphire had one of the most successful careers in show jumping history. The Belgian Warmblood mare carried McLain Ward to two Olympic team Gold Medals, a World Equestrian Games (WEG) team Silver and dozens of individual wins at many of the world’s biggest and most prestigious events.
Foaled in Belgium in 1995, Sapphire was recommended to Ward as a 7-year-old by Francois Mathy and was owned at different times by Ward in partnership with Harry Gill, Double H Farm, Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tom Grossman. “Sara” and Ward took to each other right away and had an immediate impact on the U.S. and international show jumping scene.
Sapphire and Ward quickly became mainstays on all major U.S. teams, winning Olympic team Gold Medals in 2004 at Athens and 2008 at Hong Kong where they also finished fifth individually. They added a team Silver Medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games at Aachen in 2006, where they placed seventh individually, and also helped the U.S. win the Samsung FEI Nations Cup Super League in 2005. They were also part of the U.S.’s WEG team at Lexington in 2010 when they again placed seventh individually.
Sapphire’s record in Grand Prix competition was equally impressive. Ward rode her in four FEI World Cup Finals, placing eighth in 2007 and second in 2009 when they jumped clear in all five rounds. Their long list of wins together includes the $1 million CN International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows (2009), the $1 Million Grand Prix at Saugerties (2010), the $100,000 President’s Cup at the Washington International (2008, 2010), the Grand Prix of La Baule and Grand Prix of Rome in 2010, the $200,000 American Invitational (2008), and both the $50,000 Grand Prix qualifier and $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix (2009).
Other big wins included the USEF National Show Jumping Championship (2006), the Devon Grand Prix (2007, 2009), and multiple major wins at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington including a record five wins in the Five-Star WEF Finale Grand Prix. Sapphire was named the American Grandprix Association (AGA) Horse of the Year in 2007 and the USEF Show Jumping Horse of the Year in 2009.
After her retirement in the spring of 2012, Sapphire lived a happy life at Ward’s Castle Hill Farm until her passing in 2014 at age 19.
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame was organized to promote the sport of show jumping and to immortalize the legends of the men, women and horses who have made great contributions to the sport. The Show Jumping Hall of Fame is located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Plaques honoring those who have been honored with induction into the Hall of Fame can be seen at the Horse Park’s Rolex Stadium. Mementos and artifacts from the sport’s history are on display as part of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame collection at the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Wheeler Museum at the Horse Park.