McLain Ward & Hija van Strokapelleken Ph. Kathy Russell Photography
“It’s the way we wanted to start off this week. Hija was fantastic. I am very lucky to have this wonderful mare. This is a beautiful event, the footing is phenomenal and the weather was great. We couldn’t ask for better conditions. I would like to thank Deeridge Farms and the Jacobs Family.”
Reigning Longines FEI World Cup Champion McLain Ward had nothing but praise to give to both his horse and the organizers of the CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W, after piloting Hija van Strokapelleken to an opening day victory in the $35,000 CP Welcome Stake. Ward, who is also the class’ inaugural title holder, posted a time of 62.02 seconds, four seconds ahead of runner-up Mexico’s Fernando Martinez and Cor Bakker in 66.83. seconds. Young Hunter Holloway of the USA and Eastern Jam, owned by Hays Investment Corp. were third in 67.42 seconds.
Martinez took the early lead in the class in the pristine grass arena and held the top spot until Ward returned on his second mount. He and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Evergate Stables LLC, obliterated the time on the Alan Wade-designed course, in part because many competitors took it a little easy, using the class as a warm up for Friday’s $35,000 Sovaro® Palm Beach Masters Qualifier.
“It’s the way we wanted to start off this week. Hija was fantastic. I am very lucky to have this wonderful mare.”
“I’m lucky enough to have a nice string of horses so that I can have two horses in this event. Today’s money is as good as tomorrow’s,” said Ward. “We did a training round with HH Callas, but with Hija our goal was to try and pick off this first class. She has a massive stride and all the scope. In a class like this, you can use it to your advantage. She was walking the ‘leave outs’ today so you don’t have to do anything too extreme.”
Martinez seem unfazed by his loss to Ward and was beaming from ear to ear. “I think it’s a beautiful place! It’s my first time here and I’m very happy to be here and do so well,” said Martinez. “I bought my horse as a young 8-year-old and he’s ten now. I’ve done a couple grand prixs with him this past summer. I hope to keep him at this level and be successful.”
Holloway also seemed to be pleased with her place in the standings. “I just wanted to have a nice smooth round today. He’s been a lovely horse to bring along. I got him two years ago when he was competing in the 1.20m classes. He’s just been a joy to bring along and to see him at this level now is really something for me to be proud of. He’s an amazing horse,” said Holloway. “This is a beautiful horse show. I came last year and I had to come back because it was a top event and I loved it.”
CP PBM competition continues on Friday. Starting time for the 1.35m class has been moved up to 8:00 a.m. The $35,000 Sovaro® Palm Beach Masters Qualifier will start at 2:00 p.m. as scheduled.
Full results at this link.
Source: Palm Beach Masters