The ATCO Classic took place under beautiful conditions on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. World No. 3 McLain Ward of the USA rode with his usual poise and composure to producd the most efficient time with Tina La Boheme, a 10 year-old Selle Francais mare owned by Susan Heller.
This true speed competition, where faults are converted into time, was the first leg of a four part series in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
The course was designed by Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela who was tasked with creating a competition track that would fit in both the famed International Ring and Meadows on the Green ring. The 12 obstacles set on the field were all made up of Canadian inspired jump material, a collection obtained by Spruce Meadows throughout the decades.
With 61 total entries starting to compete, the competition was split into two phases where both first and second place finishers fell in the order of go. Ward commented after his win, “It’s great for this mare to win the class today, she’s up and coming – she has a bit of a special story, she was owned by a very dear friend of my family’s, Arty Hawkins. He passed away last year and my godmother bought him out. So she’s quite a bit more of a special horse to me and it’s a lot of fun to have some success on her.”
“I didn’t want to take to hard of a cut on the back side because those standards are quite wide and funky – I’ve done that to my knee already.”
When asked about the conditions and his plan of attack on the International Ring, Ward said, “You know, as the footing began to dry up, it got a little bit more slippery there at the end, but not bad for sure. I didn’t feel that really affected either one of my horses in the competition. I should have taken a different route with HH Carlos to the double on the side, I should have gone around the flag pole like I did with Tina, so that was a mistake. Then at the ATCO Jump – I didn’t want to take to hard of a cut on the back side because those standards are quite wide and funky – I’ve done that to my knee already.”
Ward also placed 5th aboard HH Carlos Z, and the USA’s Leslie Howard was 4th with Donna Speciale.
With a stellar week so far, Daniel Coyle of Ireland continued his top results streak with a 2nd and 3rd place finish in the ATCO Classic. The difference between 1st and 2nd place was an astonishing 0.01 seconds to finish behind Ward. Simba De La Roque, an 11 year-old Selle Francais gelding was the first horse to carry the young Irishman to the finish line holding on to that upper finishing time for nearly the entire competition as sequence three in phase 1. The second horse for Coyle in Phase 2 was Cita, an 11 year-old Holsteiner mare by Casall. Coyle;s plan for the course was consistentcy on both horses as he arrived at the finish with Cita only 0.33 seconds behind himself.
The ‘National’ Tournament, presented by ROLEX is now complete, but there is so much more great show jumping sport to come with next week’s ‘Continental’ Tournament, beginning on Wednesday, June 14th 2017.
Complete results can be found here.