By Louise Parkes, Omaha, Apr 2, 2017: Longines World Cup, McLain Ward (41) couldn’t hold back the emotions when he finally clinched the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy in Omaha (USA) tonight. It’s been a long time coming, and the victory was very, very sweet.
Favourite from the outset and faultless all week with the brilliant mare HH Azur, the double Olympic gold medallist got a little more breathing space when second-placed Gregory Wathelet from Belgium had a fence down with Forlap in today’s first round. But Switzerland’s Romain Duguet stalked the New Yorker to the very end to take runner-up spot with TwentyTwo des Biches, while Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann moved up from sixth to third place when also jumping double-clear with Mary Lou.
Ward knew a pole down would lead to a head-to-head against Duguet, and any more than that would hand the trophy to his Swiss rival, so you could hear a pin drop as he set off, last to go over Alan Wade’s massive second course.
“I’ve been in this situation where I’ve cracked, so I took a breath and believed in my horse – and she did it!” he said tonight after raising the roof of the CenturyLink Centre and taking his place in the history books as the 10th American to take the title in the 39-year history of this prestigious series.
1. HH Azur, McLain Ward (USA) 0
2. Twentytwo des Biches, Romain Duguet (SUI) 4
3. Mary Lou, Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) 8
Facts and Figures:
McLain Ward’s victory in Omaha today brings the number of US FEI World Cup™ champions to 10, matching the number of wins achieved by riders from Germany during the 39-year history of the series.
26 horse-and-rider combinations competed in today’s third and final leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2017 Final.
The youngest rider competing today was 21-year-old Guido Klatte from Germany who finished sixth.
9 jumped clear in the first round over the course designed by Alan Wade (IRL) including the leading partnership of America’s McLain Ward and HH Azur. 20 riders returned to compete over a completely new course in the second round, with 12 going clear.
20 riders returned to compete over a completely new course in the second round and this time 12 jumped clear.
Ward and his 11-year-old mare never knocked a pole throughout three days of world class sport.
The top three horses were all mares – HH Azur, TwenyTwo des Biches and Mary Lou.
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