By Randolph PR for Pennsylvania National Horse Show
McLain Ward and First Lady rode away with the win in the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, presented by Forrester Farm Equipment, in an exciting finale to the 2022 Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA.
Thirty-four entries took on the challenging track designed by Andersen Lima, with the crowd erupting enthusiastically as, one by one, seven riders punched their tickets to the jump-off.
Ward and First Lady, owned by Robin Parsky, were the final entry to return, and when they entered the Harrisburg Coliseum, the time to beat had been set at 34.883 seconds by Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa on Quality FZ, owned by Pessoa and Artemis Equestrian Farm. As Ward crossed the timers, spectators held their breath before breaking into applause when his final time appeared on the scoreboard as 34.638 seconds, just two-tenths of a second faster than Pessoa’s time.
With Ward taking the win and Pessoa finishing in second, both third and fourth place went to Beat Mandli aboard Dijon Terdoorn Z and Chartraine Pre Noir, respectively. Also impressively qualifying two horses for the jump-off was Katie Dinan who took fifth place with Brego R’N B and sixth place with Atika des Hauts Vents.
“This place has kind of been a little bit of a nemesis for me!” said Ward. “I think I’ve done this grand prix about 30 times, and I’ve never won it, so this has kind of become a running joke between my friends and me. I finally got it, so that was nice! It’s an incredible facility, always has been.”
Ward has had the ride on 9-year-old Oldenburg mare, First Lady, for the past two years, but this week marked the pair’s first time competing together indoors.
“That’s one of the reasons we brought her here, to get her some experience and prep here for next season, and obviously she stepped up beautifully,” explained Ward. “This is her last show of the year, so it was a great climax to her season. She’s feisty but has a tremendous amount of quality; she’s still inexperienced, but she has a lot of heart.”
For the win, Ward was presented with the Harrisburg Kiwanis Club Challenge Trophy.
First Lady’s grooms were also presented with the Moira Jane Caffarey – George L. Hennessy Memorial Perpetual Trophy for their topnotch care of the grand prix-winning horse.
The Leading Lady Rider Award, sponsored by Brandywine Tent Rental, and the Wissie Brede Memorial Challenge Trophy went to Laura Chapot for her top results throughout the week.
For full results of the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, click here.