LEXINGTON, Ky. -Mclain Ward, a consistent and always gracious champion, was awarded the Robert P. Strub Trophy as the 2017 USEF Equestrian of the Year at the USEF Pegasus Awards Dinner on Jan. 18, and the following evening one of his mounts, HH Azur was named the International Horse of the Year.
Both awards were made during the U.S. Equestrian Federation's annual meeting.
Ward of Brewster, N.Y., is a decorated and respected equestrian with an international acclaim that continues to grow.
Ward started the season by winning the $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI5* during the Winter Equestrian Festival with HH Azur.
The following month, Ward clinched a home turf victory, winning the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final with HH Azur in Omaha, Neb.
In May, Ward was successful at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, winning the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon with Rothchild.
Ward has proven himself a consistent competitor and helped anchor the U.S. team to several FEI Nations Cup medals, including a silver-medal finish at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final in September.
“I am very honored to receive this award and humbled that it is an award voted on by our entire equestrian community,” said Ward. “This for me is a special award on many levels. It is and should be a reflection of much more than simply being a good rider, driver, or trainer. It encompasses all that you do as a horseman, mentor, and ambassador of our sports. It is said that what you do in the arena makes you a champion, but what you do outside of the arena is what makes you a leader. I believe that’s what this award is about.”
THE FOLLOWING night, on an evening dedicated to celebrating the horse, HH Azur, owned by Double H Farm and François Mathy, was named the 2017 International Horse of the Year and Cuba, owned by John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC, was voted the 2017 National Horse of the Year.
HH Azur is a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve out of Sion van de Zuuthoeve, by Sir Lui.
HH Azur’s raw athleticism and keen instinct for the sport was evident from the moment she stepped into the show ring with Wardon her back.
Known as “Annie” in the barn, her year began with a win in the $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI5* at the Winter Equestrian Festival in February.
Continuing to demonstrate her dependability and undeniable talent in a major championship, HH Azur delivered three perfect rounds to give Ward to his first FEI World Cup Jumping Final title in April.
Following the World Cup Finals, HH Azur returned to competition at Spruce Meadows in the prestigious $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup CSI5*.
From there, she and Ward anchored the U.S. team to a silver-medal tie in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup™ at CHIO Aachen in July and a silver-medal finish in the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in September.
It is an amazing fact that HH Azur has not had a single fault in team competition in 2017.
THE NATIONAL Horse of the Year is Cuba , an 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Namelus R out of Ups-A-Dais, by Mermus R R owned by John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC
Cuba had an impressive year in 2017.
Having proven himself a successful hunter, Cuba started his campaign as a Derby horse just one year ago.
With rider Victoria Colvin, the pair stood out at the United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby Championship in August, placing third in the Classic Round, winning the Handy Hunter Round, and finishing as the overall champion by a significant margin of 9.75 points.
Cuba closed the competition year as the USHJA International Derby horse with most money won.
Over the course of only five competitions, Cuba earned $55,853.