WELLINGTON, Fla.--Just as he did last year, McLain Ward didn't waste any time getting into a winning mode at this winter's Winter Equestrian Festival, taking the first jumper class of the first show on Jan. 2 on Reed Kessler's Tradition De La Roque.
The first grand prix of the season will be held in the International Arena on Sunday, January 13, the $75,000 Rosenbaum PLLC Grand Prix.
With only 12 entries, the first jumper class of the season was as efficient as the round performed by Ward.
Repeating his victory from the opening day of WEF 2018, Ward piloted Tradition De La Roque to a flawless victory in the $8,000 1.45m Open Jumper in 28.986 seconds in a power and speed format over a course designed by Eric Hasbrouck.
The Kessler Show Stables Europe BV’s 12-year-old Selle Francais mare by Kannan x Karioa Grand Pre has been well-versed in international competition with previous rider Reed Kessler.
SECOND place went to Kaely Tomeu on the 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare Cassandra F, falling short of Ward by four seconds with a time of 32.755 seconds.
Sarah Scheiring was third place on Dontez in 33.009 seconds.
The experience of both Ward and his mount was obvious as the team maintained their lead throughout the power-and-speed course and crossed the timers in a blazing 28.986 seconds.
“She's an experienced horse of Reed Kessler’s, and since she went back to school, her horses are on the market,” Ward said. “Until then I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to ride her.”
As for his first win of the 2019 season, Ward was pleased with their debut round.
“This class is always a bit light because it’s the first morning, so if you have an experienced horse you don't have to go too fast to win it. We were able to just have a nice, smooth round and start the circuit off well.”