Friday’s $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic CSI5* marked the second major win in as many days for U.S. Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward, who captured the Friday victory at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) aboard Bellefleur PS Z. WEF continues through April 1 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
The fifth week of WEF, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, features CSI 5* competition from February 7-11 and the $384,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 10.
The $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic had 54 entries contesting the speed track set by course designer Kelvin Bywater of Great Britain. Seventeen of those entries completed the course without fault, but none were faster than Ward, who was fresh off a win in Thursday’s $132,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 aboard his 2017 FEI World Cup Final champion mount HH Azur. This time, Ward tripped the timers in 55.88 seconds riding Bellefleur PS Z, a nine-year-old Zangersheide mare owned by Ward’s godmother, Susan Heller, and Ward’s daughter, Lilly.
“My godmother bought half of her with the stipulation that my half was owned by Lilly Ward because she thought that maybe that would prevent me from selling – which, who knows,” Ward explained. “I absolutely love the mare. She loves her job. She’s a fighter, a trier, just a wonderful horse to be able to compete.”
Second place with a time of 57.88 seconds went to Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding USA Normande, owned by Paillot Equestrian. Rounding out the top three were Karen Polle (JPN) and Little Lord with a time of 58.38 seconds.
“She’s a very fast horse naturally,” Ward said of Bellefleur and his winning time, two seconds faster than Kenny’s second place finish. “I actually didn’t do all of the leave outs. Her stride isn’t massive, but she’s just quick across the floor. She’s super careful, so you don’t really have to set her up anywhere.
“You have a different flavor every week here and this was an English course builder and traditionally with English course designers, you have a lot of roll backs; they rode the horse on a short stride,” Ward continued. “You see that in the course, which is interesting and a different challenge.”
Bellefleur’s win also marked a birthday victory for the mare’s youngest owner, as Lilly Ward turned three years old on Friday. However, while exciting for most, for the three-year-old Lilly, Bellefleur’s win will likely be well overshadowed by her own birthday party later in the day.
Final Results: $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic CSI5*
1 BELLEFLEUR PS Z: 2009 Zangersheide mare by Berlin x Quidam de Revel
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Susan Heller and Lilly Ward: 0/55.88
2 USA NORMANDE: 2008 Selle Francais mare by Made in Semilly x Urbain du Monnai
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Paillot Equestrian: 0/57.88
3 LITTLE LORD 90: 2005 Holsteiner gelding by Lasino x Calato
KAREN POLLE (JPN), Karen Polle: 0/58.38
4 BOKAI: 2006 KWPN gelding by Up To Date x Olympic Ferro
CATHERINE TYREE (USA), Mary Tyree: 0/58.71
5 LADY MARIA BH: 2006 Holsteiner mare by Cartani x Corrado I
AMANDA DERBYSHIRE (GBR), David Gochman: 0/59.51
6 CHAPILOT: 2007 Hanoverian gelding by Chacco Blue x Pilot
RODRIGO LAMBRE (BRA), Mario Onate: 0/60.76
7 D CANCARRA A.C.: 2009 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Contefino x Kashmir van Schuttershof
OLIVIER PHILIPPAERTS (BEL), Ludo Philippaerts: 0/61.16
8 DON’T TOUCH DU BOIS: 2009 Belgian Warmblood mare by Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm, LLC & Paul Tracy: 0/61.62
9 COLLIN: 2007 KWPN gelding by Colandro x Amethist
LUIZ FRANCISCO DE AZEVEDO (BRA), Santa Cecilia Stables: 0/62.86
10 BUGATTI: 2006 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Pilot
WILHELM GENN (GER), Eduardo Leon: 0/65.35
11 ARMIK: 2009 Oldenburg gelding by Armitage x Justinian xx
CAPT. BRIAN COURNANE (IRL), Brian Courname, Bob Stiller, and Christine Stiller: 0/66.04
12 URUS 2: 2005 Oldenburg gelding by Canturo x Cento
LJUBOV KOCHETOVA (RUS), Ljubov Kochetova: 0/66.79