That longed for Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title is only one more competition away for America’s McLain Ward (41) who, for the second night in a row, rocketed to victory at the Centurylink Center in Omaha (USA) tonight with the brilliant 11-year-old mare HH Azur.
“She’s an independent woman, I don’t think she needs me very much! I have to try to keep a handle on her, but she tries to give you everything she has, and she has a tremendous amount to give!”
The double Olympic gold medallist has wanted this title for a very long time and, at his 17thFinal it is almost in his grasp. But with only a three-point advantage over tonight’s runner-up, Gregory Wathelet (36) from Belgium, and just a fence separating him from third-placed Swiss rider Romain Duguet (36) going into Sunday’s decider, it’s far from done and dusted.
Wathelet won’t be a pushover, and is thrilled to have re-established his partnership with Forlap who he brought to top level before the gelding was sold. This is something of a #TwoHearts story. “He lost his confidence because he was passed around to several different riders, so it was a bit of a risk buying him back”, the 2015 European silver medallist, who is clearly delighted the 12-year-old gelding is back home where he started, and relishing his job once again.
“The biggest challenge for me is to keep my head right” admitted Ward tonight. “It’s something I need to master, and I hope I can do that this weekend”, the man from Brewster, New York said.
Photo: Liz Gregg/FEI