The USA’s McLain Ward landed the $382,000 Longines grand prix of New York in front of a capacity crowd with an exhilarating gallop to the last on Clinta – an 11-year-old Clinton/Lord Pezi mare originally produced in Britain by Dan Neilson.
Fourteen of the 30 starters posted round one clears over Dutch course-designer Louis Konickx’ 12-fence track and McLain was the man to beat on the amazingly scopey Clinta. But his blistering round put paid to others chances as he risked a gallop to the final fence in the exciting jump-off, and cleared it with a flourish to win by 0.51 sec.
“[Course design] is a real art and I thought it was fantastic for the inaugural event. You have a big crowd, an exciting jump-off, and the course was challenging but it allowed for a few clear rounds and great sport in the jump-off, which is great for the fans.” said McLain about this debut event in the heart of the Empire State as the American Grand Slam.
“It’s always nice to win on your home soil in the U.S. and extra special in New York. I can remember years ago when I was a young kid, I won a grand prix at [Madison Square] Garden and that was very special because it was the home state and the home city. It was very special again here today.”
Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire was in the mix but a fence down in round two dropped the Con Air 10-year-old Cornwall BH down to eighth spot.
McLain and his winning mount Clinta – produced from newcomer level to 3* International by Dan until the sale in August 2015 – recently joined forces after he added the ride to his already stacked string, which is made up of five grey mares including Clinta along with his World Cup champion HH Azur.
“It’s great to see her showing all that I thought she could be,” said Ward of the mare he owns with Sagamore Farms. “I saw her in Aachen last summer and fell in love with her, but it took me seven months to get her. She made a great effort today and it was my day.”
Dan was also very proud – “It’s wonderful to see horses we have produced go on, and Clinta was special from day one.”
A New York native, Ward was complimentary of the Longines Masters of New York and the efforts of its management to introduce unparalleled sport and entertainment to the American market, saying, “They’re really making this an entertainment spectacle, which is phenomenal. It’s something that’s been missing in promoting our sport; making it more exciting to a more diverse audience.”
McLain Ward is now the new contender for the Grand Slam Bonus of €1,000,000 for winning three Longines Grand Prix consecutively in New York (Season III), Paris (Season IV), and Hong Kong (Season IV).
Four faults in the six-horse jump-off of Friday’s 5* 1.45m dropped Amanda and Cornwall BH into sixth.
Photo © Sportfot