North Salem, N.Y.—May 18
McLain Ward had two very different horses in the jump-off for the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix, presented by The Kincade Group, Merrill Lynch. He had HH Cannavaro, a big, powerful horse with a long, lopey stride, and HH Carlos Z, a nimble little horse with a quick stride and power steering. It was the equitation horse versus the minibike.
He had a different strategy for each horse—leaving strides out on HH Cannavaro but not on HH Carlos Z—and it paid off when he placed first and second in the last class of two weeks of showing at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows.
HH Cannavaro, a 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Caplan, is “a bit like riding a big equitation horse,” Ward said. “He's very easy, he's very straightforward. He has a massive jump, and he has a lot of quality. He doesn’t want to touch the fences. Probably sometimes you’d have to say he's not the fastest horse in the world, a little bit like another great horse I had, Sapphire. But he’s so willing that you can do distances and turns that you can't do on another horse.”
Describing HH Carlos Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z, as “very, very fast,” Ward said that he is “like a minibike.” He added, “He’s a horse I've known for a number of years; he’s a great winner. He’s a wonderful addition to have in the string because he’s a very competitive horse that can win every day.”
Both horses are new to Ward, who started with HH Cannavaro in January and HH Carlos Z in February of this year. “It's a restarted partnership with [owner] Hunter Harrison and Double H Farm, so it's very exciting for us,” Ward noted. “They're both really talented and very willing horses. It’s nice that things are really starting to come together.”
Ward had a good week—just a few days before the grand prix, he topped the $20,000 Speed Derby on Zander.
There were 42 entries in the grand prix, and nine of them were clear to advance to the jump-off over a course designed by Ireland's Alan Wade. The first clear round in the jump-off came from Leslie Howard on Jane Clark's Wintu, who recorded a time of 38.75 seconds. They would finish in fourth place. Next in, Candice King and Bellissimo LLC's Kismet 50 placed fifth with a time of 40.32 seconds and no faults.
Ward and HH Cannavaro set the winning time at 36.89 seconds. The rider who came the closest to catching Ward was Michael Hughes of Allendale, N.J., on Macarthur, who stopped the timers in 37.83 seconds for third place. Ward and his second horse, HH Carlos Z, had a time of 37.23 seconds, just off the pace.
Hughes has been riding Macarthur for three years, and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Concorde has helped him move into the grand prix arena. “He's been a great horse horse for me,” Hughes affirmed. “He has a lot of experience, so he's good for me to go in and start jumping bigger classes like this. He’s pretty much been my main horse to go jump bigger jumps on. He’s just such a smart horse and so clever.”
Hughes said that Macarthur's scope and big stride came in handy on the grass Grand Prix Field. Watching the jump-off, he adjusted his plan. “I had a different plan when I initially walked it, and then I saw McLain go. I changed my plan a little bit doing a few less strides here and there,” he said. “I still ended up doing the add down the last line, which I guess cost me a little bit.”
Earlier in the week, Jennifer Alfano topped yet another hunter derby with Jersey Boy, the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, over Amanda Steege on Loxley and Jimmy Torano on HH Himself.
Final Results: $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix, presented by The Kincade Group, Merrill Lynch
1. HH CANNAVARO MCLAIN WARD DOUBLE H FARM: 0/0/36.896
2. HH CARLOS Z MCLAIN WARD DOUBLE H FARM: 0/0/37.232
3. MACARTHUR MICHAEL HUGHES CHRISTINA FRIED: 0/0/37.836
4. WINTU LESLIE HOWARD JANE CLARK: 0/0/38.758
5. KISMET 50 CANDICE KING BELLISSIMO LLC: 0/0/40.325
6. SHORAPUR KEVIN BABINGTON SHORAPUR LLC: 0/4/37.384
7. ROMANTOVICH TAKE ONE CHRISTINE MCCREA CANDY TRIBBLE & WINDSOR SHOW STABLES: 0/8/38.159
8. WIRMA BRIANNE GOUTAL REMARKABLE FARMS LP: 0/8/39.162
9. AIR FORCE ONE KAMA GODEK KAMA GODEK: 0/13/50.465
10. CORD 11 KEVIN BABINGTON MECO EQUESTRIAN LLC: 4/72.357
11. VASCO ADAM PRUDENT PLAIN BAY SALES/PATRICK FLIN: 4/73.439
12. WISTFUL DARRAGH KENNY ALEXANDER LLC: 4/76.885