EAST DORSET, Vt.--Morgan Ward of Milford, N.J., was the fastest in the jump-off to win the $30,000 Grand Prix on Diacord on Saturday, July 21, at the 25th annual Vermont Summer Festival.
It turned out to be an eight horse speed class, as all eight that advanced to the jump-off were clean over the track set by 2016 Olympic course designer Manuel Esparza of Mexico.
Ward used her speed, coupled with several inside turns, to stop the clock at 40.16 seconds on Diacord.
Thursday’s Welcome Stake winner Candice King of Long Valley, N.J.,, rode Calisto 26 to the runner-up spot with a time of 41.45 seconds.
Colombian rider Mario Garcia piloted Fabries, to third in 42.82 seconds, while Adelaide Toensing of Charlotte, Vt., was fourth on Blue in 43.18 seconds, and McKayla Langmeier of East Granby, Conn., rounded out the top five on Iliano van d’Abelendreef with a time of 43.61 seconds.
A YOUNG professional based out of her family’s Willow Brook Farm in Whitehouse, N.J., Ward has been knocking on the door of a top finish throughout the last two weeks.
“Diacord was double-clean in the Welcome last week, then a little tired in the grand prix," said Ward. "He had a cheap rail in the Welcome this week, and he felt a little tired in the schooling area again today. But he walked in, and after fence one I knew we were fine.”
Diacord joined Ward’s string two years ago as an equitation prospect, but stepped up to the grand prix level at the 2017 Vermont Summer Festival.
“He’s an incredible horse and is always ready to win whenever you walk in the ring,” said Ward of Diacord, formerly piloted by Israel’s Daniel Bluman. “We took our time during the first year and then David Jennings started helping me this winter in Ocala, and the horse has continued to improve.
“This was a great way to end our time here,” concluded Ward, who will now give her horses a break from competition for two weeks. “It’s always a great time to show here, and the footing has been phenomenal this year. They did a great job!”