Edited Press Release
North Salem, NY – May 20, 2022 – Five-time Olympian McLain Ward (USA) returned to the International Arena on Friday to fly to the top of the leaderboard in the $65,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem presented by The Kincade Group aboard his and Susie Heller’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Faro. Fresh off his win in Thursday’s (May 12) $37,000 FEI CSI3* Two-Phase, Ward claimed two victories throughout the day, his first being the $25,000 National 1.40-1.45m Jumper Classic.
Ireland’s Alan Wade set a winding 16-effort, 1.50m course to challenge the 39 entries representing eight countries in the $65,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem presented by The Kincade Group. With 14 horse-and-rider combinations moving on to the jump-off, Ward was the first rider to go double clear in a time of 40.460 seconds. The only ones to catch his time were Jordan Coyle (IRL) and Ballyoskill Big Bucks, who stopped the clock at 40.370 seconds, but a downed rail at the penultimate fence kept them out of the top rankings.
“It’s been a great day,” Ward said. “Faro is a bit of a new horse for Susie Heller, his owner, and myself. We actually sold him about a year and a half ago, but he wasn’t a great match for his rider, so we bought him back. I’m really excited about competing him. He’s a very careful, very competitive horse, and he can do some really great things. In the first round, my strategy was to not make any mistakes. He jumped great last week and was third in the Grand Prix Qualifier, so I knew he was comfortable in the ring. This class had a big jump-off with quite a few clear initially, and I planned to go as fast as I thought I could to put a little pressure on everyone else.”
Six-time Brazilian Olympic veteran Rodrigo Pessoa finished in second with his double-clear time of 41.260 seconds aboard Quality FZ, Artemis Equestrian LLC’s 13-year-old Italian Sport Horse gelding. Captain Brian Cournane (IRL) rode his 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Armik to a third-place finish in 42.690 seconds.
Ward, who is also the Spring Horse Shows Co-Chair, started his day with a victory in the $25,000 National 1.40-1.45m Jumper Classic aboard his speed specialist Catoki, tripping the timers in 37.231 seconds. The Alan Wade-designed course featured 15 jumping efforts, narrowing a field of 50 entries to just 12 in the jump-off.
“This is exactly what his job is,” Ward said of Marilla Van Beuren’s 13-year-old Westphalian gelding. “He’s a speed horse, one that I take internationally for these types of competitions as well. He’s got his own way and a unique character that’s a little bit special. I think he’s won a competition at every show this year. He’s a pretty incredible little horse.
“I had quite a few horses in this class,” Ward added. “I think it’s a wonderful class for a wide variety of horses like young horses coming up, horses that you’re still building, and of course horses like Catoki. It was a strong field and a nice jump-off. I knew we would have a nice placing with Callas (who finished fifth), and it just set up for Catoki to take a real shot at the end.”
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