Aachen, Germany—July 2
McLain Ward made a game-time decision to ride HH Azur in today’s 1.5 million euro Rolex Grand Prix CSIO5* in his attempt to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at the CHIO Aachen.
But after taking down rails at fences 2 and 3 in the opening round, Ward put his hand up and retired on the mare he described Thursday as being in a “sunset moment.”
On Thursday, Ward jumped two clear rounds and helped the U.S. team to fourth in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup on Callas. His result in that class also earned him a crucial qualification to this afternoon’s two-round feature grand prix, and with it the chance to vie for the 1 million euro bonus that comes with winning the Rolex Grand Slam.
“I’m not going to show [Callas] tomorrow. I’m going to keep them both on ice,” he said on Thursday evening. “Obviously outside of the Nations Cup, we came here for the grand prix, and you can’t avoid the fact that there’s a little more emphasis on it. Azur’s in a sunset moment, and so we’re just going to quietly get through the next couple of days and keep both horses well prepped and make my decision Saturday night who’s going to go Sunday.”
“Annie” was Ward’s partner for the previous two wins that made him today’s live Grand Slam contender—the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva (Switzerland) in December and the Rolex Grand Prix ‘s-Hertogenbosch (the Netherlands) in March. The 17-year-old Belgium Warmblood (Thunder VD Zuuthoeve—Sion VD Zuuthoeve, Sir Lui VD Zuuthoeve) mare is owned by Ward and Double H Farm. The class begins at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. Eastern Daylight time).
“I’m going to try and focus on the class,” Ward said Thursday. “It’s easy to get distracted by the other stuff, but it doesn’t change the test. This grand prix, for some reason, is a little bit my battle in life, and one of these days we’re going to going to get it.”