Edited Press Release
Molly Ashe Cawley rode to the top of the Delta Air Lines FEI 4* Two Phase Stake aboard Berdien at the 169th Upperville Colt & Horse Show presented by MARS Equestrian™, besting a field of 35 starters in the first of four FEI level classes this week.
Careful riding in the power phase, combined with slick and speedy turns in the speed phase catapulted her to the win in 29.84 seconds. Cawley imported Berdien in 2017 as a six-year-old and has enjoyed consistent placings at the three-, four-, and five-star levels.
“I went to Javier Salvador’s, and he had three or four horses that we couldn’t totally decide on, so we brought a few over, and by the end of the Florida circuit, she had proven to be the one we really wanted,” she said. Berdien’s heart and drive have quickly become Cawley’s favorite traits of the mare owned by Louisburg Farm. “She fights every single time in the ring, she f ights for you, and she wants to win.”
Initially, Cawley’s strategy was to go for the win, but when she saw that the riders before her were going at such a clip, she briefly reconsidered, thinking a more conservative approach might be the right choice.
“I’ve been a little frustrated because I feel like she has been fast, but we end up getting outrun. But, once I got the six strides done after the in-and-out and got the gallop, it felt like I should keep galloping!”
Cawley expressed her delight at showing at Upperville, noting the history and atmosphere of the show is part of what keeps her returning each year. “Upperville feels a little bit like Devon to me,” she pointed out. “I’ve always wanted to live in this area; it’s very horse friendly and the crowd is always great. They always cheer you on and the hospitality is amazing for all of us.”
McLain Ward had three rides in the American Standard Grand Prix, sponsored by the Ingram Family, and ended the competition day by winning the class of 36 starters aboard Ilias and finishing second with Catoki. Ward and Ilias, a 14-year-old- Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Beechwood Stables, attacked course designer Marina Azavido’s track with intensity, stopping the clock at a swift 31.532 seconds, beating Ward’s time of 31.680 on Catoki, owned by Marilla Van Beuren.
“I had three shots, and it was a big jump off,” stated Ward, Brewster, NY. “I had three very fast horses; I thought Catoki had it, but it was a good set up for the jump off for Ilias.”
“He has a huge stride, very good character,” he continued. “Ilias is very brave, and we tried to use that to our advantage, and it came off ok.”
Ward was recently named to ride Ilias, who was campaigned by Annabel Revers until she headed off into the corporate world. “This is a great opportunity to compete him a bit,” explained Ward. “This is our second show and he’s a wonderful guy.”