November 1, 2013--The National Horse Show Association of America $50,000 International Open Speed, presented by Copernicus and the Coulter Family tested the foot speed of the top mounts over a faults converted track designed by Conrad Homfeld. About midway through the field it looked like young rider Catherine Pasmore had the win in her sights with Vandavid after carefully navigating each obstacle and breaking the beam at a speedy 65.73 seconds.
Unfortunately, Olympian McLain Ward went a few rounds later with his consistent partner Zander. The pair easily left all the rails intact and galloped efficiently through a bending line early in the course, as well as taking the direct route after one of the double combinations. The plan paid off, and they finished in 63.09 seconds to take a commanding lead.
Ward could not breathe a sigh of relief just yet though. The last rider to tackle the course was Meagan Nusz with Vesuvius, and they stayed right on Ward's tracks. Taking sharp turns and leaving strides out they were on the money and it looked like they could take the win, but Nusz and Vesuvius stopped the clock at 63.95, just tenths of a second away from the lead for the second place prize, while Ward led the victory gallop.
"Meagan gave me a good run, but it went our way tonight," admitted Ward. "I was lucky to go late. Last night I had to go very early. Tonight I had a better draw. He has a really big stride, so I was able to leave out a couple of places, and he is a pretty quick horse."
At just 9 years old with multiple wins to his name, Ward is excited about Zander's future. "This is Zander's first time Indoors," he explained. "He jumped the Grand Prix in Washington last week, and he was good, but a little green. We have been kind of moving him up and down in the shows a little bit. This is a unique show because you have two very big speed classes, and one really big one. With the prize money being as good as it is, this probably wouldn't be his normal class of the show, but the standards are high and it is good for the horse to learn to do that. I think he is going to be a big top, top horse, he's almost there."