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The Streak Is In Tact - McLain Ward And Hurricane Win $25,000 Challenge Cup

Ken Smith And Carmen Win Regular Working Hunter Championship

WELLINGTON, FL - February 12, 2004 - "The problem with having such a good run is that you get fearful when it's going to end, because you know at some point it's going to end," said McLain Ward after chalking up his 10th win in the Internationale Arena at the 32nd Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, today. "But we'll keep riding and enjoying it while it goes on."

Ward topped a field of 56 entries in the $25,000 WEF Kilkenny/ICH Challenge Cup Series Round III, CSI***. Fifteen horses cleared the 15-effort Round One track designed by Frank Rothenberger. The lead changed hands several times in the Jump-Off, but going ninth in the order Norman Dello Joio jumped to the lead when he laid down a trip with Quriel owned by Eleanor Belknap and Anthony Weight that would be hard to beat - 33.64 seconds. However, going last in the line-up aboard Hurricane I, Ward produced a clear trip in 32.71 for the win.

The jump-off ride was so elegantly performed that it did not appear as if Ward was actually going fast. "He's a nice old horse and he knows the game," explained Ward of the 15-year-old bay gelding owned by Sarah Willeman and Turnabout Farm. "I know where he can be fast or slow. He's just a nice partner to have with you out there."

Though Ward did not watch the leading ride in the tiebreaker, he targeted two spots on course where he thought he beat Dello Joio's time. "I did one less stride to the second jump and I turned back on the fourth jump a little faster - that's the only places I thought I was particularly fast, but Norman was fast and put in a great round. I got the advantage of going after him, which is always the catbird's seat, particularly when you have a horse like Hurricane who is so special. It really gives you a lot of room for error."

Seven horses put in double clear performances today. Quriel was edged into second. Kim Frey rode Couletto K. James for owner McLain Ward clocked in at 35.08 for third. "That was also very exciting for me," said Ward. "He's only eight years old and it was his first grand prix this season. It was a great day all the way around."

Couletto K. James is one of 40 horses that Ward personally owns. "I'm a horse dealer by profession," he laughed. Ward rained the young horse to Grand Prix level, but since the Winter Equestrian Festival does not allow a rider to compete with more than one horse in the Grand Prix, Ward chose to have another rider take over the reins. "I felt that James wasn't going to get showcased because he wasn't as experienced as some of the horses that I had purchased with Double H Farm, so I chose Kim Frey because I think she's a very talented rider and she's also very fond of the horse. The partnership is off to a great start."

Ward said that even with competing five days a week, he is still able to train, and named his father, Barney Ward as his trainer. "We practice a lot. I've worked with my father since I started riding and he's taught me everything I know. Certainly my victories are as much his as they are mine." Ward also credited his staff, noting Erica Metcalfe and her husband Lee McKeever, who've been with him for 16 years. "Lee is my ground man and basically my nanny," Ward grinned.

How is Ward mentally handling the winning streak? "You just have to try to stay focused and not start wondering when you're going to lose, then it's going to fall apart. It's ups and downs in this sport. I've got a great group of horses and great people and great owners. You have to believe in yourself, and know that you have the best people around you. I've always been taught that I'd rather be average and surround myself with great people than be great and surround myself with fools," he said with a grin. "I've tried to surround myself with the best in the business from my vet to my blacksmith to my father. I'm very lucky. Hopefully I don't screw it up for them!"

Ken Smith And Carmen Win Regular Working Hunter Championship
After two days of competition in the Regular Working Hunter division sponsored by First Savings Mortgage Company, Ken Smith riding Carmen emerged as the champion. Millridge, LLC owns Carmen, a 10-year old, 15.3-hand Oldenburg mare. Smith has had the ride since October 2003. Louise Serio riding Gray Slipper for owner Bridget Hallman earned the Reserve.

Smith, 36, operates Ashland Farm in Wellington, Florida, and has 75 horses stabled at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club show grounds. He rode Carmen in four over fences classes and took the victory in three of them. He picked up a third place ribbon in one jumping class. The division competed in one Under Saddle class, in which Smith and Carmen placed fourth.

"She was really good. Yesterday especially because she had last week off so she was fresh and jumped real, real high," said Smith. "She showed great expression over the jumps, real smooth, and she's a beautiful mover, so between the jumps it worked out real nice." He attributed today's third place in the first over fences classes to an unlucky rub when she jumped lower than her norm, but then she went on to win the final class today and clinch the championship. Smith, who is over six feet tall, attributes his height to the lower score in the Under Saddle class where she was fourth. "She was good. I'm a little tall for her for the Under Saddle. Over the jumps they're watching the horse more, but Under Saddle I like to put a shorter rider on her." Smith also rode Miracle in the Under Saddle for owner Christy Russo and finished in eighth place.

Smith noted that the most special aspect of Carmen's personality is her attitude. "She goes in to win the classes. She has all the talent, but she really wants to win the classes and you can't teach them how to do that. They're born to do it or not. She's a really consistent horse."

Smith acquired Carmen for his client when he saw her at a horse show and fell in love with her. "The client bought her over the phone. They never got to see her," he said. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, who own Millridge LLC, have a daughter, Henrietta Armstrong, who recently started to compete and will take over the ride on Carmen by the end of the season in the Children's.

Smith summed up the Regular Working Hunter division as "pretty strong this week. There were some real good horses in it. It was nice for us to have a good week because next week's the World Hunter Week." Smith plans to compete Carmen in the Working Hunters.

For complete results, visit

Show days for the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival are Wednesday through Sunday. Gates open at 8:00 am. Ticket Prices: Wednesdays are free to everyone; Children 12 and under are admitted free every day; Young Adults 13 to 18 and Seniors are $5 on Thursday through Sunday; Adults are $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. The Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club is located on Pierson Road off South Shore Boulevard. For additional information, visit or call 561-793-5867.

February 11 - 15 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale CSI***
February 18 - 22 Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular CSI-W/Y CSI-Ch
February 19 - 22 Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic
February 25 - 29 PDP Capital Wellington Masters CSI***
March 3 - 7 CN Wellington Open CSI-W
March 10 - 14 CSIO United States Cosequin Finale CSIO***
March 18 - 21 Zada Enterprises WEF Dressage Classic CDI***/Y
(Qualifier for Olympic Selection Trials)
March 24 - 28 Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
March 30 - April 3 Tournament of Champions CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
April 3 Budweiser American Invitational (Raymond James Stadium)

February 15 $50,000 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale Cup, CSI***
February 22 $60,000 Idle Dice Classic, presented by Palm Beach Post, CSI-W
February 29 $75,000 PDP Capital Masters Cup, CSI***
March 7 $75,000 CN Wellington Open presented by Estates of Wellington Green, CDI-W
March 12 $50,000 Samsung Nations' Cup, presented by CN, CSIO****
March 14 $100,000 Cosequin U.S. Open Jumper Championship, CSIO****
March 28 $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, presented by Kilkenny/ICH, CSI-W
April 3 $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, presented by The Tampa Tribune


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