Edited Press Release
McLain Ward proved he is still the king of the ring at HITS Saugerties, picking up his second win in as many weeks with Alanine De Vains, and also placing second during the $100,000 HITS Grand Prix. Ward held the lead from start to finish with the quick and careful mare during the six-horse jump-off, where he produced the only double clear rounds, also garnering the red ribbon with Vins VD Tojopehoeve Z. Incurring just a single time fault, Emma Marlowe and Marcus took home the third-place award.
“We’ve had two nice Sundays here,” smiled Ward after his win. “I think the improvements that the team at HITS have made here are phenomenal. The footing is excellent, beautiful jumps, good courses – all around the facility looks fantastic. I only live about an hour from here, and to have this in our backyard is a huge asset.”
Course designer Mark McGowan set a long and technical track for the day’s highlight event in the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium. It included a liverpool oxer-vertical double combination, a triple bar, an open water option and a vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination as the final question going towards the gate. Six advanced to the short course, where they began with an “S” track to the second half of the triple combination before another sharp rollback and a final long gallop to the last delicate vertical.
Ward and Alanine De Vains made quick work of the first round and were the first to return for the tiebreaker. Using his veteran mount’s speed and agility to his advantage, Ward easily cleared the track. With a very fast gallop to the final obstacle, he quickly closed the door for the remaining riders with a faultless time of 40.208 seconds.
“I had three great entries in the grand prix and all three jumped beautiful clear rounds,” noted Ward. “Alanine is the fastest of the three – she’s known for her speed. With the two other entries that I was going to have, I figured I’d try to shut the door a little bit and put enough pressure on the rest of them that they would make some mistakes.”
That is exactly what happened as the jump-off progressed. Marlow and Marcus followed Ward and Alanine De Vains, and opted for a conservative pace to leave all the fences intact, resulting in one time fault that would put them ahead of the pack for third. Ward was last to return with his third mount, Vins VD Tojopehoeve Z and knew he could place second with a fault-free effort, eventually crossing the timer just fractions slower than Alanine De Vains for second place.
Alanine De Vains is a 13-year-old Selle Francais mare owned by Lindemann Barnett Sporthorses that Ward began riding at the beginning of the year. “Alanine is a wonderful mare and she’s been a top horse for a number of years,” said Ward. “Her rider is at university right now, so she is for sale that’s why I have the ride on her, and she’ll probably be sold before too long.”
One week of jumper action remains for the HITS Saugerties Spring Series as part of the complete HITS-on-the-Hudson season, which runs through September at the world-class facility. The $100,000 Voltaire Grand Prix will highlight competition on Sunday, in addition to Friday’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. Classics in the Junior/Amateur Jumpers close out the week, in addition to the High, Low and Modified Children’s and Adult Jumper Classics, which are qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.
Original press release courtesy of HITS Shows.