McLain Ward has officially claimed the title of “America’s Sweetheart”. For the second night in a row, USA’s McLain Ward and HH Azur came out on top with a blazing fast jump off in Friday evening’s Longines FEI World Cup Round 2 Grand Prix and left even those of us viewing from our couch screaming in delight. McLain Ward’s jump off had everyone on the edge of their seats wondering if HH Azur could do it again and that she did, a thrilling result for the United States. Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet was a close second on Forlap followed by Switzerland’s Romain Duguet aboard Twentytwo des Biches.
“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!” said McLain of his 11-year-old mare, HH Azur.
Unfortunately, even the best pairs have bad days. Martin Rodriguez Vanni of Uruguay had a disappointing 28 faults paired with a refusal. USA’s Jamie Barge left the ring with a refusal and 23 faults, while Egypt’s Nayel Nassar chose to retire his mount Lordan after a shaky start.
Scores throughout the three rounds of World Cup competition are cumulative. McLain Ward, having maintained a penalty-free scoresheet through two rounds, is in an excellent position going into the final round on Sunday afternoon, though those in the top 5 are not far behind him. As is always the case in showjumping, it’s not over until it’s over.
Catch the live action in the Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix Jumping Final on Sunday at 2:00pm on http://FEITV.org.