In a grand prix that turned into a two-horse race, it was McLain Ward and Kasper Van Het Hellehof who ultimately came out on top of Friday’s Longines Grand Prix of the United States CSIO5* in San Juan Capistrano, California.
The victory was the first five-star win for the pair in their three-year partnership.
The event, which previews Sunday’s upcoming Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of the USA, began with a field of 21, but Venezuelan course designer Leopoldo Palacios’ first-round track quickly proved its challenge. Only two riders were able to get around the course fault-free.
The first of those, Mexico’s Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia aboard H-Lucky Retto, came out eighth in the first-round order and proved the task was possible.
Yet rails kept falling until Ward, going 18th in the order, entered the ring on The Kasper Group LLC’s 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Emerald—Hadise Van Het Hellehof, Nabab De Reve) and turned in the second clear round needed to advanced the competition to a jump-off.
Chedraui Eguia was first in and produced a stylish, efficient, clean round again, stopping the clocks in 38.31 seconds. Ward was next, and from a tighter rollback between Fences 1 and 2 to a bolder gallop midway through the course, his round looked visibly faster—a fact confirmed by his final time, nearly a second quicker at 37.42.
Watch their winning jump-off round, courtesy of FEI.tv:
See the complete results. Next ahead for the riders is the Longines FEI Nations Cup, beginning at noon Pacific Time (3 p.m. Eastern) on Sunday. The class will be livestreamed on ClipMyHorse.tv/FEI.tv.