Devon, Pa. – June 1, 2017 – Thursday night at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair belonged to world number two ranked rider McLain Ward of Brewster, New York, who surpassed 28 contenders to claim the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4* for the ninth time in his career. Ward rode the 16-year-old chestnut Warmblood, Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms, around the famed Dixon Oval in front of a packed crowd, consisting of diehard show jumping fans to Pennsylvania locals, hoping to witness some of the greatest names in the sport of show jumping go head-to-head for the most coveted trophy in the Devon collection: the Celeste McNeal Harper Perpetual Trophy.
Great Britain’s Kelvin Bywater put riders to the test, challenging the international field of athletes with his technical first round track consisting of 12 obstacles each set at 1.60m in height.
Jonathan McCrea (USA) set the tone for the evening as the first to navigate the course fault-free aboard Candy Tribble’s Aristoteles V. Second to turn in a clear ride was Devin Ryan (USA) riding his own Cooper, while Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) gave Luibanta BH a clear ride for Gochman Sport Horse LLC. The remaining riders to join the jump-off were Aaron Vale (USA) riding Finou 4, owned by Thinks Like A Horse, and Ward and Rothchild.
In the end, Rothchild reigned supreme for the second time, after also winning with Ward in 2013, in the five-horse jump-off, thrilling spectators and galloping through the timers in a speedy 41.21 seconds.
McCrea was first to return to take on the shortened course, and set the time to beat at 4 faults in 46.260 seconds, which would earn him fifth place at the end of the evening. Ryan was second to return and was the first to clear the course penalty-free in 42.110 seconds, garnering him second place honors in the final standings. Derbyshire followed with another fault-free round, finishing just behind Ryan in 42.560 seconds, which would be good enough for third place. Vale returned as fourth in the jump-off order-of-go, but added 4 faults to his name in 42.950 seconds to finish in fourth place.
The enthusiastic crowd erupted as Ward and his longtime partner, Rothchild, were the final pair to cross the finish line with all of the rails intact. The ever-expressive gelding threw his infamous buck at the end of his stellar performance, knowing he had secured the title of $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4* champion.
Rothchild and Ward continue to make headlines with their impressive performances throughout the world, including those at the 2015 Pan American Games where the pair won individual gold.
To conclude the night, Beezie Madden (USA) was presented with the Richard E. McDevitt Style Award for displaying the best style of riding throughout the evening aboard Breitling LS.
McLain Ward (USA) – First Place
On the Devon Horse Show:
“I love Devon; I always have. I’ve always made an effort to come here. The first time I jumped this grand prix was 25 years ago. It was always a very special place to my father and my family, which made it a special place for me. I continue to try and support this event because I believe in it and the people here. They have reinvented Devon. It’s a venue on Thursday night that I think can compete with Calgary, Aachen and Hickstead. The atmosphere here is every bit as good as those venues. It’s great to see the numbers and the quality of the jumping coming back to a really high level. The thing that I have noticed in the last few years is that every year they are making improvements. This year you have the new VIP tent, buildings, footing and I think the future looks bright, which is really something I am proud to be a part of. I am proud to be here. I very much hope it becomes a 5* one day. I think it’s worthy of that level of competition. I don’t think there’s a better environment anywhere in the world, and I’ve gotten to show at every major show there is. I don’t know a place like it.”
On Thursday’s course:
“Kelvin is a brilliant course designer. His courses, and I say this as a compliment, are quite English — a lot of rollbacks. Rollbacks and Rothchild are a little dice-y. He can duck out every once in a while so I have to give him a little bit of room even though he has good foot speed. I didn’t think the jump-off was super fast tonight so I didn’t have to be insane.”
On his plan for Rothchild:
“That horse gets this sport. I always say to him, ‘You don’t owe me a thing but it would be nice to win again!’ That’s kind of how I am with him. He owes me nothing. If he never jumps another fence again, it’s fine. As long as he’s healthy and he’s performing this way I think he enjoys it, and physically he looks better than ever. So I am going to continue on with him as long as he tells me he’s still healthy and enjoying the sport and enjoying what we’re doing.”
Devin Ryan (USA) – Second Place
On his second place finish:
“I was third twice and now second so I am slowly moving up. Every time behind McLain. I could have turned a little tighter, but my horse isn’t the best with rollbacks even though he’s quick across the ground. I have to give him a little room with his front end. I didn’t take the shot tonight. Recently, I’ve been taking a shot in the rollback turns and I’ve been having rails down so I decided to be a little conservative tonight and just see what happens.”
Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) – Third Place
On her third place finish:
“This is my first top three finish in a 4* so I am very excited about that. Devon is close to where we are based for the summer, which is great. Becky and David [Gochman], who own the horses, were here tonight and it’s always extra special when they are here.”
Kelvin Bywater – Course Designer
On his thoughts of the class:
“I think we had some great horses in the class tonight. Some of them made little mistakes but I thought anywhere between five and eight clear would have been nice.”
On the Devon Horse Show:
“I think it’s an amazing atmosphere at this show. The show is fantastic. I don’t think you can go anywhere else in the world and get a better atmosphere. I think it’s as good as anywhere in Europe. It’s very hard for the horses sometimes. When you stand in the middle of the ring it’s like being in an amphitheater. It’s quite incredible.”
$225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / Time / R2 Faults / Time
1. Rothchild / McLain Ward / USA / Sagamore Farms / 0 / 70.260 / 0 / 41.210
2. Cooper / Devin Ryan / USA / Devin Ryan / 0 / 68.02 / 0 / 42.110
3. Luibanta BH / Amanda Derbyshire / GBR / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 / 69.900 / 0 / 42.560
4. Finou 4 / Aaron Vale / USA / Thinks Like A Horse / 0 / 69/230 / 4 / 42.950
5. Aristoteles V / Jonathan McCrea / USA / Candy Tribble / 0 / 72.080 / 4 /46.260
6. Navalo de Poheton / Andrew Kocher / USA / MKO Equestrian LLC / 4 / 67.200
7. Quointreau Un Prince / Laura Chapot / USA / Laura Chapot and McLain Ward / 4 / 68.060
8. Breitling LS / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 4 / 69.100
9. GC Chopins Bushi / Alberto Michan / MEX / Iron Horse Farm / 4 / 69.360
10. California 62 / Andrew Ramsay / USA / The California Group / 4 / 69.880
11. Barnetta / Sharn Wordley / NZ / Sky Group / 4 / 70.030
12. Serise Du Bidou / Alison Robitaille / USA / Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone / 4 / 71.600
After cooler weather earlier in the week, blue skies and sun set the stage for the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by the Wheeler family, at the iconic Devon Horse Show. Thirty-one horse-and-rider pairs were put to the test and brought many spectators elbow-to-elbow on the fence line of the Dixon Oval to catch a glimpse of the action.
The two panels of judges consisted of Rick Fancher, Chris Wynne, Bob Crandall and Bobbie Reber. The lead score of 178 in the classic round was tied between Tori Colvin aboard John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC’s Cuba and Pony Lane Farm’s Standing Ovation, ridden by Maggie Jayne, for much of the first round. Allen Rheinheimer designed the course, which consisted of 11 obstacles with four high-option fences for those looking to increase their score. Both riders opted to jump all high-option fences in the classic round.
It was not long before Tracy Fenney entered the ring and laid down a trip worthy of the new leading score with MTM Farm’s MTM Outbid, collecting a score of 182.5 after expertly navigating all four high-options.
The top 12 riders in the classic round were called to the winner’s circle to take their ribbons before competing in the handy phase. Taking home top honors in the classic round was Fenney and MTM Outbid, while Standing Ovation earned the second place ribbon and Cuba secured third place.
The leading combinations returned in reverse order in hopes of impressing the judges to move up in the standings and collect valuable points towards the upcoming USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in August.
In the handy phase, Standing Ovation and Jayne were third to last to go. They separated themselves from the pack to ultimately claim the highest overall score of 375 points, once again nailing every high-option and proving the 10-year-old Warmblood stallion’s rideability to nab a score of 197 from the two judging panels in the handy phase.
The reserve champion tricolor award was given to Colvin and Cuba, who jumped three of the four high-options in the handy to end with a total of 367 points overall. Cuba also walked away bearing the Shapley’s Best Turned Out award.
Redfield Farm’s Baranus rounded out the top three with Cassandra Kahle in the irons after returning from the first round sitting in eighth place with 167 points. Kahle knew she had to step up her game if she wanted a chance to move up in the ribbons so she and Baranus successfully took on all four high-options in the handy round. The duo garnered the third place ribbon after collecting an overall total of 361 points.
In fourth place with a total score of 360.50 was Candid, owned by veteran hunter rider Jennifer Alfano, ridden by Kristy Herrera. Herrera, longtime student and friend of Alfano, was the winner of the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship aboard another Alfano-owned mount, Miss Lucy. The winners of the first round, Fenney and MTM Outbid, finished the class in fifth place overall with 356.5 points.
Maggie Jayne – First Place
On Standing Ovation:
“He was imported early this fall so he’s been doing the Green Conformation. I did him in two other derbies and haven’t placed. This was actually my last chance to qualify for derby finals so no pressure, but I got a ribbon and we are now qualified! He’s been showing in the Green Conformation and Amateur-Owner Hunters with his owner Maddy Thatcher. He had a great week and really didn’t put a toe out of place.”
On what makes Standing Ovation an exceptional hunter derby mount:
“His athletic ability. He has the smoothest canter I’ve ever ridden. He just floats. It’s no effort. He’s constantly balanced and always leaves the ground effortlessly. He has a perfect lead change and never spooks. It feels like cheating. It feels like riding a ballerina, he’s that elegant.”
On her performances on Thursday:
“I wasn’t pleased with myself in the first round. I got him a little riled up at one of the in-and-outs. The second round, my goal was just to have him be slow and tight but nothing crazy. He did jumpers before so he can get a little excited. One of his best features is that he can jump out of a slow, lope-y canter because he does everything so effortlessly. I thought in the second round I got him to take a breath and showcase that a little better.”
Tori Colvin – Second Place
“I started riding [Cuba] a little before WEF so I don’t know him too well, but I have done him in enough classes to know his tricks. He went great today. In the first round, he swapped at an oxer. I felt it coming so I was trying to protect it but it didn’t help, but the rest was amazing. I think he would have gotten a really big score if he hadn’t have done that. I love the handy and he’s really handy so I was planning to go as smooth as we could go. He had a couple of rubs but he was really great today and I was happy with his performance.”
On the Devon Horse Show:
“I love it. I wish I had a horse to compete in the grand prix. I’ve been asking everyone if I could borrow one. I was like, ‘McLain, can I borrow Rothchild?’ It’s been great. The Ingrams and everyone I am here with are amazing as well. It just makes it all a better experience. I am going to be here through amateur weekend, which I have never done, so I am going to enjoy that.”
Cassandra Kahle – Third Place
On her performances on Thursday:
“The first round I think I started off a little nervous at the first couple of jumps. I got to the second jump a little too deep so I think that hurt my score a lot. I was in eighth place going into the handy round, but luckily I got that bump out of the way and the rest of the course was super. In the handy round, I had nothing to lose so I figured I’d give it a shot. As Emil [Spadone] said, ‘You’re either going to be first or last so give it a go.’ It all worked out. The horse jumped awesome. He’s a really brave, honest horse and he throws a great jump so it was a really fun round to take a shot at.”
$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by the Wheeler family:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score One / Score Two / Total Score
1. Standing Ovation / Maggie Jayne / Pony Lane Farm / 178.00 / 197.00 / 375.00%
2. Cuba / Victoria Colvin / John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC / 178.00 / 189.00 / 367.00%
3. Baranus / Cassandra Kahle / Redfield Farm / 167.00 / 194.00 / 361.00%
4. Candid / Kristy Herrera / Jennifer Alfano / 173.50 / 187.00 / 360.50%
5. MTM Outbid / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 182.50 / 174.00 / 356.50%
6. S & L Just A Cobbler / Dorothy Douglas / S & L Farms / 163.00 / 190.00 / 353.00%
7. Cosmeo / Gabrielle Strigel / DK-USA Sporthorse, LLC / 174.50 / 177.00 / 351.50%
8. Sandlot / Katie Cooper / Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc. / 167.00 / 183.00 / 350.00%
9. Breeze / Havens Schatt / John Yozell / 172.50 / 171.00 / 343.50%
10. Like I Said / Maggie Jayne / Pony Lane Farm / 164.50 / 173.00 / 337.50%
11. Kensi / Kristy Herrera / Jennifer Alfano / 162.00 / 149.00 / 311.00%
12. Extraordinaire / Tommi Clark / Stephen Borders / 161.00 / 102.00 / 263.00%
Last year was Amanda Murchison’s Devon debut with her horse CH Spread The Word after waiting nearly 30 years to compete at the historic showgrounds. It has also always been one of Murchison’s dreams to win a Devon blue in front of the Dixon Oval crowds. Murchison fulfilled that dream not once, but twice as she rode away with the Robin Hill Challenge Trophy for the second year in a row in the Adult Three-Gaited English Show Pleasure class on Thursday.
Murchison of Hookset, New Hampshire, and CH Spread The Word have been working together for about three years. In that time, the duo have claimed some of the highest honors within their discipline. Together, they’ve won the United Professional Horsemen’s Association American Saddlebred Adult Amateur Show Pleasure Horse of the Year and the reserve World’s Champion of Champions Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure.
In the Junior Five-Gaited Saddle Horse division, Sallie-Mason Wheeler and Ceil and Kenny Wheeler’s Bodidly rode away with the first place prize. Gabriella Snyder and Callaway’s There’s No Stopping Us earned second place, while Julia Wester and The Paper Girl JJW finished in third place.
On her win:
“It’s amazing! I have wanted to show here my whole life, and last year was the first time I actually got to come with [CH Spread The Word]. It is so cool to show in that ring. It’s just amazing to be here again, and to get to do it with a horse like him is just an incredible honor and an incredible blessing. I’m so lucky to do it. Showing in the Dixon Oval is so exhilarating! It’s amazing, it’s huge, it’s historic, it’s everything you want in a ring — it’s awesome!”
On her partnership with CH Spread The Word:
“He’s an incredibly special animal! I feel so blessed every day to ride him. He had an incredible season last year. He won a world champion title, a national championship and was overall horse of the year. I work hard every day to be worthy of him.”
On coming to the Devon Horse Show:
“When the opportunity came up last year to show here I grabbed it with both hands! I remember some great American Saddlebreds showing in this ring. I think it’s so awesome that the Saddlebreds have come back with such a strength here and I think that’s such an honor because there really is no place like Devon. We get to watch jumping, we get to expose other people to our amazing Saddlebred breed and you have the Midway, the amazing shops, great camaraderie with the other barns — it’s just such a special place.”