The ninth week of competition at WEF runs March 7-11. Jumper highlights include the $384,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI 5* beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, and the $50,000 Rose Hill Farm Grand Prix CSI 2* on Sunday, March 11. The remaining hunter highlight on the schedule is the $10,000 USHJA National Derby on Saturday, March 10, held on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village (home of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival – 13500 South Shore Blvd.). WEF hosts hunter, jumper, and equitation competition until April 1 and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
Fresh off a win in Thursday’s $132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge CSI5* aboard Hija van Strokapelleken, owned by Evergate Stables LLC, Ward (USA) returned to the International Arena at PBIEC to take the win aboard another gray mare, Bellefleur PS Z, a nine-year-old Zangersheide owned by Susan Heller and Ward’s daughter, Lilly Ward.
When Ward entered the ring in the 54-entry speed class, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and her mount Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, owned by Bull Run Jumpers Five, had set a quick time to beat of 56.19 seconds over the Alan Wade-designed course.
“I didn’t think Kristen was actually beatable to be honest. She has a much bigger stride on that horse than I have on mine,” said Ward, who was ultimately able to shave more than a second off of Vanderveen’s time, finishing on 54.80 seconds.
“My mare is very fast though, and with today’s course, the numbers allowed her to keep going where a lot of the horses had to slow down,” said Ward. “I was able to catch the second to last fence very well to do the leave out, which I normally probably wouldn’t do with her. I got such a nice jump that I thought I was okay to do it, and she made a great effort.”
Friday’s victory marked Bellefleur’s second win in the $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic CSI5*, having previously won the class on February 9, during WEF 5. That same week, the mare also claimed victory in the $70,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.50m Classic CSI5*, before enjoying a few weeks off from the show ring.
“She’s been great down here,” said Ward of the mare that he will now point toward the $132,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final CSI 4* during WEF 11.
“She’s a blood mare, so we don’t work her too hard because we want to watch that she doesn’t get sort of ‘race horse fit,’ so to speak. She keeps herself fit anyway. Owen Rogers who actually takes care of her does a lot of the flatwork with her. He does a beautiful job. We try to keep it really low-stress because the horse is super competitive and super ready.
“I’d say my ideal plan for her is coming to fruition,” concluded Ward. “I think she’s stepping up beautifully.”