January 14, 2015--The 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) kicked off its second week of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, with a win for two-time Olympic gold medalist, McLain Ward (USA), and Double H Farm's HH Ashley. The pair was fast and clear to top the $8,000 1.45m speed class over Laura Chapot (USA) and Quointreau Un Prince.
Luc Musette of Belgium is the course designer in the International Arena at PBIEC for week two competition. Musette kicked off the first class of the week with 29 entries and six clear rounds over his 1.45m speed track. McLain Ward and the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare, HH Ashley (Acorado x Chasseur), topped the class with a time of 67.57 seconds. Ward is also the co-owner of second place finisher, Quointreau Un Prince, with rider Laura Chapot. Chapot stopped the clock in 69.33 seconds. Mexico's Nicolas Pizarro and Temascaltepec placed third in 71.29 seconds.
Ward and HH Ashley began the WEF circuit with a great start in week one, including a third place finish in Sunday's $30,000 WEF 1 Grand Prix. They remained in top form this morning with an excellent speed round to take their first win of the season.
"She is a nice, experienced horse," Ward described of Ashley. "She was great in the grand prix last week. She is just a really competitive horse."
"She is dead easy," he added. "You just kind of point and shoot, and she is very careful, so she is always trying to help you jump a clean round. She is a very fun horse to ride."
With just one clear round before them and some very competitive horses and riders still to come, Ward went for the win with his round early in the class.
"In these classes at this place, you have to do the best round you can knowing that there are normally a lot of very good ones still to come," he noted. "Especially when you go that early in the order, you can't really judge off the early rounds."
"We are just trying to win a few nice classes," Ward said of his plans for the mare. "She has always been a very good horse and quality always tells through. She will move around a little bit. She will do some smaller grand prixs, some 1.45m classes and some ranking classes. She will do a little bit of everything."
Ward also commented on Luc Musette's first course of the week, stating, "I thought Luc's course was great. His courses are always very smooth, which is nice for the riders. They make sense. It was difficult enough, but he is a great course builder, one of the best in the world."
Ward was also pleased with the second place finish of Quointreau Un Prince. He owned the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding as a five-year-old, and Chapot then purchased 50% ownership and brought the horse along.
"For a number of years we have owned him with Laura, and she has done a great job with the horse," Ward explained. "She has been very successful, and it has been a nice partnership."
As always, Ward is looking forward to the winter circuit with some of his veteran partners as well as some talented new mounts.
"I am always looking forward to Rothchild coming out, and we have a few new ones we will work with a little bit to give some experience and miles to, and we will go from there," he concluded.
Also showing on Wednesday, the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed saw a total of 111 entries and was scored in a California Split, awarding two sets of prizes. Laura Chapot was the overall winner to take top prize in section A with Mary Chapot's Zealous. Nicolas Pizarro was second fastest to earn top honors in section B aboard Jacobo Zaga's Calvaretto.
In the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off, Abigail McArdle and David McArdle's Cosma 20 set the pace early with the fastest of eight double clear rounds in a 13-horse jump-off out of 55 competitors. Laura Chapot also finished second in that class aboard Mary Chapot's Umberto.
Final Results: $8,000 1.45m Speed
1 1800 HH ASHLEY MCLAIN WARD DOUBLE H FARM: 0/67.574
2 2937 QUOINTREAU UN PRINCE LAURA CHAPOT LAURA CHAPOT & MCLAIN WARD: 0/69.330
3 3281 TEMASCALTEPEC NICOLAS PIZARRO ARMANDO TORRADO: 0/71.291
4 4773 CASSINJO DAVID BLAKE PINE HOLLOW FARM: 0/73.944
5 1273 GOLDBREAKER AMANDA DERBYSHIRE AMANDA DERBYSHIRE: 0/76.074
6 1084 UPFRONT LAUREN HOUGH LAUREN HOUGH: 0/78.999
7 2972 COBERLINA PETER LUTZ ORCHARD FARM: 1/79.630
8 3231 UNEX OMEGA STAR TIM GREDLEY UNEX COMPETITION YARD: 4/67.831
9 1080 HERACROSS PARIS SELLON PARIS SELLON: 4/70.001
10 2800 ZEPHYR MICHAEL DORMAN WYNDMONT: 4/71.309
11 1712 HERMINE 44 PETER WYLDE KAMINE AND FISHER FAMILIES LLC: 4/71.311
12 2801 VALINSKI S MICHAEL DORMAN WYNDMONT: 4/71.648