Monday, May. 27, 2024

Ward Wins USEF WEG Selection Trial 3 And Spooner Slides To The Top Of The WEG Selection Standings

Before the U.S. Equestrian Federation World Equestrian Games Selection Trials even began last week, McLain Ward had already secured a spot on the USEF World Equestrian Games Show Jumping Long List. But that couldn’t make him rest on his laurels.

Ward rode Rothchild to the top of the $40,000 USEF Selection Trial No. 3, today Mar. 3, boosting them to a tie for fourth in the USEF WEG Standings with 9 total faults. Richard Spooner and Cristallo now sit at the top of the standings after notching a single time fault today.

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Before the U.S. Equestrian Federation World Equestrian Games Selection Trials even began last week, McLain Ward had already secured a spot on the USEF World Equestrian Games Show Jumping Long List. But that couldn’t make him rest on his laurels.

Ward rode Rothchild to the top of the $40,000 USEF Selection Trial No. 3, today Mar. 3, boosting them to a tie for fourth in the USEF WEG Standings with 9 total faults. Richard Spooner and Cristallo now sit at the top of the standings after notching a single time fault today.

Rothchild jumped one of six double-clear rounds, stopping the timers the fastest (74.07 seconds) to take the biggest check, which Ward admitted wasn’t exactly on purpose.

“My horse felt great, but green,” said an enthusiastic Ward. “I had no choice by to go forward with his lack of experience. The fastest time wasn’t really an option—it just worked out!”

Guilherme Jorge’s imposing course, set on grass in the Stadium of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla., caused far too many problems to have riders overly-concerned with the clock. Competitors may have breathed a sigh of relief to find the course without a triple combination—the bane of so many courses during last Saturday’s Trial No. 2—but three big doubles shed rails all class long.

On top of that, Mother Nature added her own challenge, with 20-mile-per-hour winds ripping across the field.

“You can’t hear the horse gallop,” explained Ward. “You can’t hear the rhythm of the stride. The sense of hearing is huge with a horse. You hear the gallop, the beat—riding is all about rhythm. You can’t hear that. You can’t even hear them touch the ground. I think the wind blowing in their face is very distracting. When you came across that middle line to the green vertical, it felt like you were going against a wall.”

While Rothchild isn’t Ward’s first pick as a WEG mount, (that honor falls to his superstar partner Sapphire, who was awarded a bye from the trials on Feb. 22), the 9-year-old stepped up to the plate despite his relative inexperience.

“He’s a little bit of a funky horse,” said Ward, Brewster, N.Y. “He does it his own way, but his greatest asset is that he gets the idea to leave the jumps up. He’s really gone well through these trials. I made a terrible mistake the first night [when Rothchild suffered a refusal], which is a shame because I don’t think the horse has really had a jump down. It was just a screw up. It was great experience for him. I didn’t go into the trials thinking he was the horse for the World Championships—obviously it’s Sapphire. It’d be nice if he was in the mix, and maybe something for two years from now. If something happened to Sapphire and he was selected, or for some reason he just hit an incredible stride, but the plan is obviously Sapphire.”

Spooner took the pressure off himself after Trial No. 1 by deciding not to worry about the time allowed. His plan paid off after he and Cristallo put in a lovely but conservative clear to add 1 time fault to their cumulative total and climb to the top of the standings.

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“He jumped fantastic,” said Spooner, who travelled east from Agua Dulce, Calif., for the trials. “He never ceases to amaze me in that most courses suit him. It’s just getting my ride right. It’s never whether or not the course suits him.”

Wilsonville, Ore., rider Rich Fellers and Flexible returned to competition in top form after a 16-fault performance last Saturday, which Fellers deemed “the worst score of his career with me riding him.”

Fellers and the bounding chestnut trounced around the course without touching a rail, with the second-fastest time, promoting him to a tie for eleventh in the standings.

“He’s always been a pretty courageous, bold horse. I didn’t think that would back him off at all, and it didn’t. He came in and redeemed himself,” said Fellers.

Beezie Madden took third in the class on Danny Boy after his first faultless class of the trials, but her other two newer mounts didn’t fare quite as well. Coral Reef Via Volo dug in her heels coming out of an in-and-out, depositing Madden onto the turf, and Mademoiselle picked up 8 faults. Danny Boy and Mademoiselle now each have 12 total faults, still very much alive in a four-way tie for sixth.

Nicole Shanhinian-Simpson added a faultless trip to her record aboard Tristan, an eye-catching up-and-comer she’s been working with since last May, to a tie for second in the standings. The pair spent the summer season in Spruce Meadows (Alta.), which, according to Shahinian-Simpson gave the 10-year-old an advantage when he canted into the unfamiliar grass Stadium.

“He’s very brave, and I felt confident that it would go OK,” she said.  “It’s rare that you’re asked to come and jump in a new venue and right off the bat jump [a 1.60-meter course].”

Candice King lays in a dead heat with Tristan and Shahinian-Simpson in the standings aboard Skara Glen’s Davos. A bad fall early in last season kept King from campaigning Davos for eight months, and King considered the 10-year-old relatively inexperienced to be in the trials. But the dapple gray looked right at home in the Stadium, adding a four-fault effort to his previous scores of 4 and 0.

Ashlee Bond on Chivas Z and Jeffery Welles on Armani both rebounded from double digits scores in Trial No. 2 to lock down clear rounds. But the leaders heading into today’s trials, Quincy B and Hillary Dobbs ran into a bit of trouble toward the end of the course, adding 8 on the board but still very much in the hunt tied for fourth with Ward and Rothchild.

On Monday, Mar. 1, the USEF Ad Hoc Committee on Selection added Laura Kraut on Cedric and Lauren Hough on Quick Study to the USEF Long List along with Ward and Sapphire. That decision followed a pair of clean-and-clear performances from both horses and riders in Trials No. 1 and No. 2. The Committee may select up to six of the 15 partnerships that make up the Long List, and the remaining combinations come from the results of the trials.

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The horses and riders on the Long List will travel to Europe and compete at in CSIOs La Baule (France), Rome (Italy), St. Gallen (Switzerland), Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Falsterbo (Sweden), Aachen (Germany), Hickstead (England) and Dublin (Ireland) before the WEG team is selected in late September.

The USEF Selection Trials continue on Friday March 5 at 2 p.m., with the $30,000 USEF Selection Trial #4. Friday night is the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by CN, and you can check out the U.S. team here. The final Trial will be held on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

RESULTS: WEG Trial #3

1. Rothchild/McLain Ward 0/74.07
2. Flexible/Rich Fellers 0/75.23
3. Danny Boy/Beezie Madden/ 0/75.53
4. Chivas Z/Ashlee Bond 0/76.97
5. Armani/Jeffery Welles 0/76.99
6. Tristan/Nicole Shahinian-Simpson 0/78.08
7. Cristallo/Richard Spooner 1/84.01
8. Urico/Mario Deslauriers 4.73.00
9. Athena/Charlie Jayne 4/74.86
10. Ublesco/Cara Raether 4/77.38
11. Skara Glen’s Davos/Candice King 4/77.38
12. Kilkenny Rindo/Nicole Shahinian-Simpson 4/78.05
13. Blue Curacao/Marilyn Meredith-Little 4/78.05
14. Graf Lando/Robert Kraut 8/76.68
15. Uceko/Kent Farrington 8/77.69
16. Mademoiselle/Beezie Madden 8/78.77
17. Toronto/Candice King 8/80.04
18. Quincy B/Hillary Dobbs 8/81.82
19. Vicomte D/Mario Deslauriers 12/71.44
20. Hidden Creek’s Campella/Margie Engle 12/74.58
21. Fiedi 3/Georgina Bloomberg 12/77.00
22. Crelido/Michael Morrissey 12/77.80
23. Ralvesther/Brianne Goutal 16/75.13
24. Credit Cruise/Alexa Lowe 16/76.52
25. Kasoar D’Uxelles/Laura Teodri 16/76.52
26. Metropolitan/Georgina Bloomberg 16/76.71
27. Pavarotti/Todd Minikus 16/77.37
28. Lando/Ali Wolff 16/79.54
29. Romantovich Take Two/Christine McCrea 20/77.12
30. Moet Walk/David Beisel 28/76.90
Chapeau Z/Debbie Stephens VW
Coral Reef Via Volo/Beezie Madden E

USEF WEG Show Jumping Standings After Trial No. 3

Top 20

Download full standings for USEF WEG Show Jumping Selection Trials.

1. Cristallo/Richard Spooner—6
2T. Skara Glen’s Davos/Candice King—8
2T. Tristan/Nicole Shahinian-Simpson—8
4T. Quincy B/ Hillary Dobbs—9
4T. Rothchild/McLain Ward—9
6T. Urico/Mario Deslauriers—12
6T. Athena/Charlie Jayne—12
6T. Mademoiselle/Beezie Madden—12
6T. Danny Boy/Beezie Madden—12
10. Chivas Z/Ashlee Bond—14
11T. Flexible/Rich Fellers—16
11T. Armani/Jeffery Welles—16
13. Graf Lando/Robert Kraut—17
14. Fiedi 3/Georgina Bloomberg—18
15. Hidden Creek’s Campella/Margie Engle—20
16. Kilkenny Rindo/Nicole Shahinian-Simpson—21
17. Uceko/Kent Farrington—23
18T. Ralvesther/Brianne Goutal—24
18T. Pavarotti/ Todd Minikus—24
18T. Ublesco/Cara Raether—24

Already accepted on Long List:

Sapphire/McLain Ward
Cedric/Laura Kraut
Quick Study/Lauren Hough

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