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Press Release

ATTACHED PHOTOS

McLain Ward and Coco 135

George D'Ambrosio, Victoria McCullough and Nona Garson

Andrew Bourns and Gatsby

Peter Wilde and Zidane

Click on the above photos for details and a high resolution version.

Photographs may be used free of charge only in relation to the PMG press releases they pertain to.

The Ridge at Wellington 1.40 Invitational Grand Prix Series Sees Success From McLain Ward and Coco 135 at Mida Farm

Written by: Kendall Bierer
Client: The Ridge Farm http://www.theridgefarm.com
Release Date: 2013-01-25

Wellington, FL – January 25, 2013 – It has been over a decade since Mida Farm has heard the sound of galloping hoof beats on its grass field, but today marked a page in history for this prestigious location. The Ridge at Wellington was welcomed to “The Topps Field” for the $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix series. The grass arena offered the epitome of footing for the horses as top riders from across the globe gathered to compete for the weekly $15,000 purse leading up to the $24,750 Grand Prix Invitational Series Finale. It was McLain Ward and Coco 135 who dominated the standings, laying down a double-clear effort in a speedy 29.97 seconds, taking the third week of the series’ victory.

Pierre Jolicouer’s beautifully designed fences contrasted against the green landscape of the equestrian oasis. Only two years ago, Victoria McCullough purchased half of the property, and after hard work and with the help of Jan Topps, the once polo field was turned into a magnificent grand prix field.

“Mida was always important to me because it embraced a natural element, it is very reminiscent of Europe,” McCullough described. “The gates at Mida Farm should open, and you should share something this spectacular. You should never keep something like this private. People have fabulous horses, they ship from far away, and they want to enjoy everything Florida has to offer. For me, Florida equates to grass. I am tired of the sand, and being in the same ring over a such a long period of time. You have to have a venue that keeps you and your horse sharp. If you are always in the same element, you don’t know what you have somewhere else.”

McCullough continued, “When George [D’Ambrosio] suggested this for me, it was a great opportunity. They really think of the horses. For me, it is a beautiful combination—how great an atmosphere and safe of footing can I create? It took me two years, but seeing people enjoying the footing and the atmosphere is so wonderful, it is almost like a vacation for me. I want people to leave here and think to themselves that this is the best day they have had in a long time.”

The course consisted of 12 obstacles including an opening oxer-vertical bending line, a triple bar, double combination, liverpool and an oxer-vertical-vertical triple combination. Eric Hasbrouck designed today’s course, mastering the task of technicality, testing horse and rider alike, as his obstacles asked simple questions of the teams. Fourteen horses completed the first course within the 81 seconds time allowed and left all rails in place, but only seven went double clear over the short track.

Jackie McQuade was the first of the riders to successfully navigate the course. She piloted her own Copilot to a time of 38.843 seconds, leaving all rails in their cups. As the pathfinder, she wore a target on her back as the other riders tried to catch her time, but there was a clear correlation between accuracy and speed, with many earning faults when they took their turn at the jump-off. McQuade eventually netted the sixth place ribbon for her efforts.

“It felt amazing out there. It is a beautiful day, the grass is beautiful, the jumps are really bright, and the course was great,” McQuade described. “It wasn’t too difficult, but it was definitely still technical, you have to be on it. It’s like a breath of fresh air to come here on a Friday and ride in an atmosphere like this, where it is not so stressful, it is relaxed and a bit more casual, but if you want to win you have to ride. This is extremely beneficial for everyone, it keeps the horses and riders entertained and sharp, and it is great preparation for the Winter Equestrian Festival and really complements it.”

McLain Ward entered the ring with clear fortitude aboard Coco 135, owned by Tequestrian Farms. After clearing the first round, he moved the bay gelding into a smooth pace, and took his try at the short track. He sliced the turns with ease, and broke the beam in only 29.97 seconds. His blazing time sealed the victory for the day.

“It was a nice course, very straightforward, the jumps look nice, and the old polo field ground was excellent,” Ward explained. “He is a very fast horse, and he has a lot of experience going fast, so I used that to my advantage.”

Ward elaborated, “I think this is obviously a spectacular venue. It is beautiful, and the footing is very, very good. It is a nice change. While the International Ring is really a wonderful venue at the PBIEC facility, I think with the horses going week in and week out, it gets a little boring for them. It is nice to have some variety; I think being in one location is very difficult for them. I think they lose their interest level, and having events like this sprinkled in is a nice change of pace, it freshens the horses and is a wonderfully put on event.”

As the day continued, the competition heated up. Alise Oken, trained by last week’s winner Laura Kraut, rode Kaid Du Ry to the speedy time of 33.548 seconds. Oken used her mount’s speed to her advantage, closing in on McLain’s time; however, she still fell 4.578 seconds shy.

“I just heard about this event, and Laura told me I should do it since the prize money is high and he is a fast horse. We trailed right here, the grounds are amazing, the footing is really good, and the course was really nice. Everything walked exactly how it rode, so I was very happy,” Oken described. “I saw McLain go, which was crazy with all of his short turns, so my goal was to just get close to him. It ended up really well, and I am happy with how it went. I am definitely going to come back. It is a great idea and good money.”

Toward the end of the class, Andrew Bourns and Gatsby stole the third place position from Oken, forcing her into fourth with their time of 32.982 seconds. Andy Kocher slid into the fifth place position with Vantos V, and Vanessa Paschini tripped the timers in 41.088 seconds with the last of the double-clear efforts. It was Peter Wylde who left his mark on the competition, piloting Zidane to the second place position with a time of 32.385. His turn to fence seven was flawless, shaving seconds and ranking him behind Ward for the red ribbon.

“Zidane is a superstar horse, he is always at the top of the results, and I am really happy with him—he’s a real competitor,” Wylde said. “I am very grateful and happy to Missy Clark and John Brennan from North Run who have facilitated my move back here. We have been working together as a team, and the results are showing that the team is working really well. They have been fantastic, and being part of North Run has been so far, so great.”

Wylde enthused, “We all said, what a pleasant experience it was to do the show there. It was really laid back, but had such a nice atmosphere, was a beautiful course. It was a nice change, a little bit different. It was an excellent experience, we all loved it, and I am especially happy about the preparation it gives Zidane on the grass—I am thinking about doing him in the derby in a few weeks, so this was perfect practice.”

Mida Farm will once again host the Friday 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix on February 1, 2013. Andres Rodriguez continues to lead the rider standings due to his placings during the first two weeks of the series. Although he once again showed Elatrice, owned by Arao Enterprises, an unlucky rail left him out of the jump-off for this week. Rodrigo Pessoa also showed several mounts, disclosing that he will return next week for another go on the grass.

“I think it is a really nice initiative to be able to come out of the show grounds a little bit and see something different. I like being able to give a little experience to a younger horse, and give them the opportunity to jump on the grass,” Pessoa explained. “It is a very friendly event, and it doesn’t harm anybody. I think the course was good. When you are doing something like this, you try to create a course to educate the horses, and I think Eric succeeded in that. I plan on coming back next week and definitely showing again.”

Due to the continued generosity of Victoria McCullough, the $15,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix will take place on the lush landscape of Mida Farm next Friday, too. Beginning at 8 am, riders can journey to Mida Farm for the 1.40m Grand Prix, reserving times for walking the course and showing. This event complements the Winter Equestrian Festival, allowing riders to show conveniently, and offers the high stakes of $15,000 per class to be split among the top eight riders to ribbon. The 10-week series will culminate with the $24,750 Ridge at Wellington Invitational Grand Prix Finale on March 23, 2013.

“Having a combination with them [Nona Garson and George D’Ambrosio] and helping them is superb. All horses, just like people, the same thing doesn’t work—there is no generality. We are helping by giving the opportunity for people to get the most out of the Winter Equestrian Festival—Nona and George are true ambassadors of the sport. The kindness, friendliness and camaraderie we gain on this field, on this day, in the sun is exactly what I am looking for,” McCullough concluded.

All photos by: Kendall Bierer/PhelpsSports.com

1.40m Invitational Grand Prix III Results

1 MCLAIN WARD  COCO 135 000  000  29.970
2 PETER Wylde  ZIDANE 000 000 32.385
3 ANDREW BOURNS  GATSBY  000 000 32.982
4 ALISE OKEN  KAID DU RY  000 000 33.548
5 ANDY KOCHER  VANTOS V  000 000 37.633
6 JACKIE MCQUADE  COPILOT  000  000  38.843
7 VANESSA PASCHINI  NEOLISTO VAN HET MIERENHOF  000  000 41.088
8 RODRIGO PESSOA  PALUCHIN  000  444  32.115
9 PAUL HALPERN  VIA VENETO  000  444  32.851

 

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