McLain Ward (USA) recorded a remarkable ninth victory at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair when he topped the $205,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto with HH Gigi’s Girl.
Ward, the 2017 World Cup Champion, bested a compact, international jump-off field of five, featuring riders from four different nations. Last to jump, he galloped around Alan Wade’s (IRL) shortened track in 32.42 seconds, snatching victory away from American teammate Devin Ryan. Ryan and Eddie Blue, his gold medal-winning partner from September’s World Equestrian Games, settled for second with a time of 33.88 seconds. Local favorite Ali Ramsay (CAN) finished third as the highest placing Canadian rider, finishing on a time of 34.62 seconds.
“It was nice to have the last spot in the order [in the jump-off]. I thought [everyone] was pretty quick. I know Devin’s horse is quick, because he’s beat me few times!”
McLain Ward (USA)
Ward’s keys to victory were his smooth turns, particularly following the third jump-off obstacle, the Longines double. Where Ryan’s turn involved a moment of steadying, Ward didn’t let an ounce of pressure off the gas, and the packed crowd on hand erupted as he victoriously crossed through the finish.
“I saw [Devin] got stuffed back on the vertical after the Longines double, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe if I go a little left, and I pick up on it, [I can do one less stride],” Ward explained. “It was a little far away, and I actually went to the back of the tack for a second, but she left, and the last line was a good line for her off the right lead; I knew I could keep coming. Sometimes you get lucky!”
Ward was particularly impressed with his mount, who has turned in the best results of her career in 2018.
“This summer, things started to get more consistent, and she jumped some clear rounds in some very key moments,” Ward said. “She really turned the corner, and I feel she has a really exciting future.”
Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) reclaimed her spot atop the east coast sub league standings of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League following Toronto’s qualifier, where she turned in yet another top 10 finish. She checked in eighth with Cat Ballou and now boasts 55 points. Beezie Madden (USA), who is automatically qualified for the 2019 World Cup Final following her victory last season in Paris (FRA), sits second in the standings with 46 points.
Ward’s win moved him into third in the standings with 45 points. Eight riders, including Madden, will punch their tickets to the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg (SWE) in April.
The North American League resumes with west coast action in Las Vegas (USA) on 17 November 2018.
Photo: FEI/Simon Stafford