DEVON, Pa—Two-time Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward won the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon for the ninth time on Thursday, June 1, this time taking it on Rothchild, who has now won it twice.
It was a wide-open field in the open jumper section, with five different riders from the 37 riders that qualified to compete at Devon winning the five classes.
It was so wide-open that David Gochman’s Lady Maria BH, who won only two ribbons, winning Friday evening’s $25,000 Speed Stake and placing second in Wednesday evening’s $40,000 International Speed Stake was crowned Champion with 16 points, with Rothman, the Grand Prix winner, and Katherine Strauss’ All In, who won the Saturday evening $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake, the two classes that carried bonus points, tied for Reserve,
Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire, who rode Lady Maria BH and also rode Gochman’s Luibanta BH to third in the Grand Prix, was Leading Open Jumper Rider and Leading Lady Open Jumper Rider.
Ward won the Grand Prix before a huge, enthusiastic crowd, beating five in the jump-off from a starting field of 28.
Last to go in the jump-off, Ward finished clean in 41.210, almost a second faster than second placed Devin Ryan on Cooper, clean in 42.110, with Derbyshire on Luibanta BH third in 42.560.
"ROTHCHILD gets this sport,” said Ward.” I always say to him, 'You don't owe me a thing, but it would be nice to win again!' That's kind of how I am with him. He owes me nothing. If he never jumps another fence again, it's fine. As long as he's healthy and he's performing this way I think he enjoys it, and physically he looks better than ever. So I am going to continue on with him as long as he tells me he's still healthy and enjoying the sport and enjoying what we're doing."
"Kelvin is a brilliant course designer,” said Ward of Great Britain’s Kelvin Bywater . “His courses, and I say this as a compliment, are quite English - a lot of rollbacks. Rollbacks and Rothchild are a little dicey. He can duck out every once in a while, so I have to give him a little bit of room even though he has good foot speed. I didn't think the jump-off was super fast tonight so I didn't have to be insane.”
"I love Devon; I always have,” said Ward. “I've always made an effort to come here. The first time I jumped this grand prix was 25 years ago. It was always a very special place to my father and my family, which made it a special place for me.”
“I continue to try and support this event because I believe in it and the people here,” said Ward. “They have reinvented Devon. It's a venue on Thursday night that I think can compete with Calgary, Aachen and Hickstead. The atmosphere here is every bit as good as those venues. “
“It's great to see the numbers and the quality of the jumping coming back to a really high level,” said Ward.” The thing that I have noticed in the last few years is that every year they are making improvements. This year you have the new VIP tent, buildings, footing and I think the future looks bright, which is really something I am proud to be a part of. I am proud to be here.”
“I very much hope it becomes a 5* one day,” said Ward. “I think it's worthy of that level of competition. I don't think there's a better environment anywhere in the world, and I've gotten to show at every major show there is. I don't know a place like it."
"I was third twice and now second so I am slowly moving up,” said Ryan. “Every time behind McLain.
“I could have turned a little tighter, but my horse isn't the best with rollbacks even though he's quick across the ground,” said Ryan. “I have to give him a little room with his front end. I didn't take the shot tonight. Recently, I've been taking a shot in the rollback turns and I've been having rails down so I decided to be a little conservative tonight and just see what happens."
"This is my first top three finish in a 4* so I am very excited about that,” said Derbyshire. “Devon is close to where we are based for the summer, which is great. Becky and David [Gochman], who own the horses, were here tonight and it's always extra special when they are here."
ANDREW KOCHER on Navalo De Poheton won the first open Jumper class, the $50,000 Welcome Stake Tuesday evening.
“I was lucky to stay on in the jump-off,” said Kocher, “I actually had one leg over the horse. I was sidesaddle for the wrong class. It was fun, it was really fast and I got lucky."
"Last year was the first time I've ever shown in the open jumpers here,” said Kocher. “I never thought I'd win one, especially not a night class. I've always really wanted to show here, but I just wasn't good enough to be honest.”
Sydney Shulman rode Wamira to win the $40,000 International Speed Stake Wednesday evening.
"I had a really bad accident with her about a year ago.,” said 22-year-old Shulman. “I broke my hip, and she was out for a year. This is her second real show back.”
“The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show was her first, so coming in I was questioning if she would jump well and if I should show her, but she had a really great career before me so I knew she would step up if needed,” said Shulman. “I bought her two years ago to be my top horse at the time so now I think she's making her way back up."
DERBYSHIRE won the Friday evening $25,000 Speed Challenge on Lady Marie BM.
"I've had her for a little less than two years,” said Derbyshire. “We got her when she was 9. I know she's a fast horse. Watching Andy (Kocher) go, I didn't think I was going to beat him but I tried. I had to get my whip out at the last fence to leave out that stride, but she always tries her best. She's a great horse."
"Devon is great,” said Derbyshire. “It really feels special. I like the small rings, that's a lot of fun. Thanks to Becky and David [Gochman] for always supporting me and our whole team. It's been a great week. My horses were great."
Katherine Strauss won the Saturday evening $50,000 Idle Dice Stake riding her All In.
"This is my first year as an amateur and my first year at Devon senior week so this is a really exciting start.” Said Strauss. “I'm definitely really humbled to be competing against all of these incredible riders who are here. I have a lot of confidence in my horse, so I have confidence walking into the ring, but I never expect anything in this sport, especially competing against such incredible riders."
"I've had All In since the beginning of 2014, and for the last few years I've mostly shown him in the junior jumpers and U25 classes,” said Strauss. “He's an unbelievable horse. I'm so lucky to have him.”
. “I'm really lucky to have my trainer, Beezie Madden, as a role model,” said Strauss. “She definitely sets the standard high and gives me something to dream of and aspire to. I would love to one day be able to represent our country in big Nations Cup events, but it's a long way before I get there. Short term, I have graduation next week, then I go to Calgary for a few weeks and then Europe. Then I start college at Vanderbilt University in August."
After the Saturday evening class, points were totaled and it was Derbyshire, with just her three ribbons, a first, a second and a third, who was Devon Leading Open Jumper Rider.
"I'm ecstatic,” said Derbyshire. “I had a pretty nice show here last year and this has really been everything I've been dreaming of. All of our hard work really paid off this week. It's moments like this where it's all worth it.”
“The crowd here is like no other,” said Derbyshire. “I don't think any of the shows that we've been to are quite like this, so that makes it special when you know the crowd is behind you. The Gochman kids showed here last weekend, and they were champion and grand champion (Sophie in junior hunters). Then Becky, who owns the horses, was also champion and grand champion, (amateur owner hunter), so that means all four of us got a piece of Devon this year, which is incredible!"
"I've been coming to Devon for the last seven years, and I've shown here for the last two years,” said Derbyshire. “Becky and the kids have shown here for as long as I can remember.”
“I came to America when I was 21 for three months, and never left,” said Derbyshire. “I go home a couple of times a year, but my family is happy for me. Now, with all of the technology, they stay up and watch me on the livestream, so they're not missing out."
ADRIENNE MARCIANO of Collegeville, Pa., won the $20,000 Amateur Owner Classic on Laspari on Saturday evening, June 3, with the only double clear round, and with the bonus points awarded in that class was Amateur Owner Jumper Champion and Amateur Owner Leading Rider for the second time.
Jennifer Jones, on Kocher’s Honfleur, with a first and a third in the first two classes in that section was Reserve.
"He's super rideable,” said Marciano of Laspari. “That's where I have an advantage. He has a really big stride, and you can leave one out, but then you can set him up and add one, too. That's really where I have the advantage in the jump-offs. Now he's 12 years old, so he's more experienced. He just showed off today. He really loves it here. He loves the atmosphere."
"I never thought it would happen again on the same horse,” said Marciano. “There are so many factors involved. Luck has to be on your side. I know Laspari is amazing, and I always go into the ring pretty confident.”
“My whole family was here tonight. and I didn't want to disappoint them,” said Marciano. “They came in 2014 as well. They support me but don't expect anything. I think they're super happy with it, just as I am!"
Lindsey Tomeu, 23 of Wellington, Fla., riding Bonapart, won the first two classes of the Adult Amateur Jumper section and finished sixth in the $7,500 Classic to win the championship on Monday, May 29..
After earning reserve champion in the same division in 2016 at Devon, Tomeu was determined to return to Devon in 2017 with her sights set on the championship.
In Monday evening's $7,500 Adult Amateur Classic, 10 jumped clean, and Kendra Sue Walmer on Electra won to also take the reserve championship.
"It was like a fairy tale, really,” said Tomeu. “Last year we came, and I was first and second, and then had an unfortunate rail in the classic. I came trying to be better than that, so I would say I succeeded, because I was reserve champion last year.
“It would've been an amazing feat to win all three classes, and that's what I was going for, but things happen,” said Tomeu. “Bonapart went beautifully. I couldn't have asked for anything better. To go home with two blues and a champion ribbon from Devon is anybody's dream!"
"This is my fourth year showing Bonapart,” said Tomeu. “He is my horse-of-a-lifetime. I will never have another animal like him. He is my favorite, and he will live with me forever. “
"Devon's not like any other horse show,” said Tomeu. “The fair and the fact that everything is run by volunteers is amazing. It's old school. You have carriage horses coming down the road right now. It's a totally different experience. For the adult jumpers, no where else do you show with a crowd like this, and I think that's really cool."