McLain Ward and Phillipa Triumph at $24,777 Lucky Sevens
Welcome Jumper Classic at Jacksonville Winter Opener

January 18, 2008 - Green Cove Springs, FL -

The opening week of the 2008 Jacksonville Winter Series got off with a warm welcome to exhibitors, especially McLain Ward of Brewster, NY with new mountPhillipa who won this evening's $24,777 Lucky Sevens Welcome Jumper Classic sponsored by Privett and Associates. This evening's class was a preview of things to come at Saturday's premiere event, the $75,000 Green Cove Springs CSI-W Grand Prix.

McLain and the 10 year-old flashy chestnut Phillipa are no strangers to winning, despite their young partnership of 9 months. "The last two and half months she's really come on strong!" an exuberant Ward said of the Warmblood mare. Strong indeed, winning the $75.000 Syracuse Budweiser CSI-W Prix and most recently the $100,000 National Show Jumping Championship CSI-W in Wellington. "She's still a little green, but" McLain quipped, "she's figuring it out quite quickly!" Taking on a field of 26 world-class athletes, Ward was one of only 8 to make the final jump off round.

Dave Ballard of Ontario, Canada returned as course designer for the opening week events. His resume includes being one of the few O Class designers in the world; he assisted Linda Allen at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA, was the designer for the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada, and assistant designer for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. The course for tonight was a first round technical layout of 13 obstacles at regulation 1.45M (maximum height 4'9") with a time allowance of 89 seconds. "I created a course that's testing enough when taking into consideration it's early in the season and expecting many of the horses to be fresh after the December time most had off." Dave explained. The tracks were a little long with sweeping turns. A triple [oxer to vertical to vertical] set practically in the audience's lap turned out to be far less a threat to the competitors than the seemingly simple #4 oxer that cost many a rider their invite to the last round. "The triple wasn't too big but it had a spooky panel under B [the first vertical in]."tonight's winner said of the first round layout.

Phillipa owned by the Sagamore Farms had no trouble passing the first round test in nearly 4 seconds below the allotted 89 with a clear time of 85.145. "The course was big enough, it's very early in the season so it's a very hard time for us because we've rested for a while now. So everything looks big when you come back!", McLain began about his journey around the arena tonight, "It was very fair, we had 8 clear which I think that's a perfect number and you set up for a nice class tomorrow." He said referencing the huge $75,000 Green Cove Springs CSI-W Grand Prix on Saturday evening. "It gets better every year." He added.

Going into the final round of 6 obstacles- 7 efforts proved to be a challenge of speed versus strategy. The question for most of tonight's competitors became whether to go for it or ride smarter and save the speed for tomorrow's bigger purse. "Despite being a scopey horse she's very quick. I knew the others would be conservative too, but I let her gallop along to take off a little bit of the edge." McLain explained his choices, "I never really opened her up anywhere, just turned in tight to the combination. I actually added [strides] up to the last two fences." He chuckled and added "Besides I've gotta earn a paycheck." Neither rider nor horse were winded or worn after posting a clear winning time of 38.287 seconds as they headed back for a comfortable night in the barn.

Rounding out the top five positions for tonight's Welcome Classic were in second place Casadora ridden by Lauren Hough for owner Meredith Mateo with a clear round time of 38.672. Third place went to Rodrigo Pessoa with Rufus for owner Double H Farm in a clean 39.204 seconds. The fourth position went to Todd Minikus on board Ultimo Van Ter Monde for owner Todd Minikus Ltd with a clear time of 39.906 and completing the fifth spot was Kimberly Prince aboard Marlou for owner Windmill Ranch in a clear time of 39.920. Presenting awards this evening were the president of the North Florida Hunter Jumper Association, Tony Weight along with Robin Stoney of Classic Company. Weight said of the evening "We're very pleased with the caliber of horses the show attracts. The riders are the best in the world.in and out of the saddle. Saturday night is going to be thrilling to watch."

McLain Ward Jacksonville FL
McLain Ward & Phillipa win Welcome Classic
Photo: © 2008 Flashpoint Photography

The Jacksonville Winter Series continues through February 10th with classes Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8AM until about 5PM except for special events on Saturday evenings at 7PM such as this weekend's big $75,000 Green Cove Springs CSI-W Grand Prix. Admission to the shows are free, a $5 donation is requested for special events, which in turn is given to various local charities.

For more information or results on the 2008 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at 904-284-9492.

 

 

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