Wow! Thank you again Sara and McLain.
That was truly an unforgettable week. History was made in American show jumping, and everyone in Saugerties was a part of that.
We take a lot of horses there, as it’s only 1½ hours from the farm. Sara left on Wednesday morning and from the minute she got there she loved it. It was 20 degrees cooler, beautiful green grass all over, a big stall with a great view and good footing. Bill, her chiropractor, was there so she got her daily massages, she was in the first stall and had her head out all day so she got lots of attention, Rothchild, her little friend, was right across from her, and Antares was next to her. This made for a very happy Sara.
McLain and Rothchild started the week out with a bang by winning the $30,000 jump-off class in fine style. Antares also went clear in that class, but he went last in the jump-off. McLain was already winning on Rothchild, so he decided to try a new bit in the jump-off to prepare for the World Cup class on Saturday. He went for a nice clear round on Antares.
On Friday, Sara’s brother Domino redeemed himself after the Hamptons water disappointment. He showed in the open, jumped beautifully and finished second.
It was turning out to be a really nice horse show—the weather was perfect, and there were a lot of different people there that don't show on the same circuits as us, from the Midwest, West Coast and Canada, so that was something different. There was definitely a buzz about the $1 million class.
Saturday morning was the World Cup qualifier. McLain was busy training for the high junior/amateur classic, in which his wife Lauren finished fifth. This made McLain really happy, but he gets nervous as he wants her to do well.
Antares went early as he was the World Cup horse and was clear. Rothchild also went clear under Sara’s watchful eye. From the minute he left the barn she never took her eyes off of him. Just before he went in the ring McLain was adjusting his saddle, and Sara let out a huge whinny as if to say, “Come on, you can do it!” He whinnied back.
Rothchild ended up winning. It was a great jump-off, and Antares was fourth.
Rothchild enjoyed a bit of glory with Carrie. Photo by Erica McKeever.
As soon as the grand prix finished, Saugerties was hopping. The jumps were all taken out, and Steve Stephens’ jumps were bought in. They built the course in one ring while the stage for the John Fogerty concert was built in the other. Very exciting! It looked like the American Invitational at HITS. It was an awesome transformation.
Peter Doubleday was there to announce, and he knows everything about every horse and rider, which makes it so interesting for the spectators. Not much sleep was to be had, but that's usual the night before a big class. I don't know how McLain does it!
It was all about the one class on Sunday morning. The weather was a little overcast and about 65 degrees—perfect Sara weather. I flatted her about 8:30 a.m., and she felt amazingly fresh and ready to jump. Later that morning when they were doing sound checks for the concert, she was bucking in her stall. I thought, “I hope she's not too fresh or the dreaded ear plugs will be back.”
We were hoping for a huge turnout as Sara loves the atmosphere. Most horses do at this level. They got thousands of people, and the crowd seemed really into it. The course was difficult, but McLain thought it was very well done. There were no clear rounds for a long time until Charlie Jayne went clear with Athena. He was grinning from ear to ear.
Then it was Sara’s turn. She was great in the schooling area, and when she walked in the ring her ears pricked up.
I can barely watch as I get so nervous, but I saw her jump the second jump. She was on! She jumped beautifully, and McLain rode as brilliantly as ever. The crowd was silent until she jumped the last fence. The jump-off came up quickly, which was a good thing. That way you’re too busy to get nervous. There were only two clear.
Sara and Athena couldn't be two different models: It was like little and large. Charlie gave it his all and rode a fantastic jump-off with an unlucky rail. McLain had his plan, and off he went, fast and clear. They were the winners again!
It is a little overwhelming. It was nice as we were so close to home that there were lots of people there to see McLain and Sara in person. When we were ready to leave the concert had begun, so we led the horses out to the road. It took me almost an hour to get there as everyone had to stop and have their picture taken with Sapphire. She loves it. She knows she's special.
Later that night I went to see Sara to say goodnight, and I found McLain in her stall, feeding her apples. It was another wonderful week thanks to our wonderful Sara!