McLain Ward wins CP Welcome Stake on opening day of CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3* presented by Sovaro.

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On a resplendent afternoon at Deeridge Farms, reigning Longines FEI World Cup Champion McLain Ward hustled to victory in the $35,000 CP Welcome Stake to highlight opening day of the CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W, Presented by Sovaro® (PBM). Riding Hija van Strokapelleken, owned by Evergate Stables, LLC, Ward raced to victory in 62.02 seconds, four seconds ahead Fernando Martinez (MEX) and Cor Bakker who were second in 66.83. Hunter Holloway (USA) and Eastern Jam, owned by Hays Investment Corp. were third in 67.42 seconds. 

“It’s the way we wanted to start off this week,” said Ward. “Hija was fantastic. I am very lucky to have this wonderful mare. This is beautiful event, the footing is phenomenal and the weather was great. We couldn’t ask for better conditions. I would like to thank Deeridge Farms and the Jacobs Family.”

Martinez took the early lead in the class in the pristine grass arena and held the top spot until Ward rode on his second mount. He and the big gray mare obliterated the time on the Alan Wade-designed course, in part because many competitors took it a little easy, using the class as a warm up for Friday’s $35,000 Sovaro® Palm Beach Masters Qualifier.

“I’m lucky enough to have a nice string of horses so that I can have two horses in this event. Today’
money is as good as tomorrow’s,” said Ward. “We did a training round with HH Callas, but with Hija our goal was to try and pick off this first class. She has a massive stride and all the scope. In a class like this, you can use it to your advantage. She was walking the ‘leave outs’ today so you don’t have to do anything too extreme.” 

Martinez seem unfazed by his loss to Ward and was beaming from ear to ear. “I think it’s a beautiful place! It’s my first time here and I’m very happy to be here and do so well,” said Martinez. “I bought my horse as a young eight-year-old and he’s ten now. I’ve done a couple grand prix with him this past summer. I hope to keep him at this level and be successful.” 

to be pleased with her place in the standings. “I just wanted to have a nice smooth round today. He’s been a lovely horse to bring along. I got him two years ago when he was competing in the 1.20m classes. He’s just been a joy to bring along and to see him at this level now is really something for me to be proud of. He’s an amazing horse,” said Holloway. “This is a beautiful horse show. I came last year and I had to come back because it was a top event and I loved it.”

Due to the abundance of entries in Thursday’s first speed class, the $7,500 1.30m was split into two sections. Alex Granato won the first section riding Waomi, owned by Amalaya Investments, in a time of 54.070 seconds. Sydney Shulman was a breath behind finishing in 54.090 on Quidam 13 and Kelly Soleau-Millar and Centre Ice came in third with 55.650 seconds.

“It felt really nice today, really good. The course was nice. I just tried to start off with a good rhythm to the first fence and maintain that on a tight track. That’s what the mare really likes, she really thrives on that. She felt great in the ring. She’s still a fairly new horse to me, it’s my first time competing here and we love it already,” said Granato. “It’s a beautiful venue, really special. They treat the horses and riders great so it’s nice to be able to win in this type of venue.”

Olivia Chowdry and Cosma 20 took home the blue ribbon in the second section in a time of 54.787 seconds. Shulman was runner-up again, this time on Wamira with 56.266 and Natalie Horween Pauska was third on Vert De Gris in 56.283 seconds.

“Cous Cous, is my little speed demon,” said Chowdry of the mare owned by Atlas Equine Holdings,

LLC, and Henri Prudent. “She is a fantastic ride to keep you really confident. She wants to win every single time she goes into the ring. She is always there for me. I’ve had her for three years so we know each other really well. She’s incredible! I don’t think I’ll ever get another one like her.”

Chowdry went from riding high in the winner’s circle to a less fortunate position in her second class. Within minutes after the victory gallop in the 1.30m, Chowdry fell in the 1.20m with Ucelo De Kergane.

“Show jumping is very humbling,” said Chowdry. “I competed in the class on a sales horse for Plain Bay Sales and this morning was the first time I rode him. He’s very different than other horses that I have ridden and our wires crossed. I was expecting him to react one way and he didn’t. It happens.”

CP PBM competition continues on Friday. Starting time for the 1.35m class has been moved up to 8:00 a.m. The $35,000 Sovaro® Palm Beach Masters Qualifier will start at 2:00 p.m. as scheduled.

About the Palm Beach Masters Series and Deeridge Farms
The CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W Presented by Sovaro® is part of the Palm Beach Masters Series which is hosted at Deeridge Farms, situated in the heart of North American equestrian sport in Wellington, Florida. Award-winning landscaping surrounds the custom-built show grounds and the facilities that host the Palm Beach Masters Series. There is perhaps no location more intimate or stunning to host the highest levels of equestrian competition.

In addition to the CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W Presented by Sovaro®, the Palm Beach Masters Series also includes the Deeridge Derby, a USEF nationally-rated show where the nation’s most elegant hunter horses and ponies take center stage by invitation to compete in prestigious classes including the $5,000 USHJA National Open Hunter Derby, $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur Hunter Derby, $2,500 USHJA Pony Derby and the highly competitive $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. General Admission tickets ($20 per ticket) are now available through Eventbrite for the Deeridge Derby at www.palmbeachmasters.com/event/deeridge-derby/.

The Series also includes the new Palm Beach Open, March 22-25.