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McLain Ward Wins $5,000 Acorn Hill Farm Challenge at Winter Equestrian Festival

WELLINGTON, FL – March 10, 2004 – McLain Ward of Brewster, NY rode LaBelle to victory in the $5,000 Acorn Hill Farm Challenge Wednesday, to open the CSIO U.S. Cosequin Finale marking the final week of the Winter Equestrian Festival’s seven-week stay in Wellington, Florida. The 1.40m speed class was a member event of the North American League (NAL) Open Speed Series.

Riding LaBelle, owned by Sarah Willeman and Turnabout Farm, Ward was the 42nd of 90 entries to try the 14-effort, one-round course designed by Jose Gamarra. He completed the course fault-free in 55.420 seconds to take over the lead from Chris Pratt of Canada who had held the lead with a clean ride in 57.472 seconds on Markant.

$5,000 1.40 Acorn Hill Farm Challenge Winner: Labelle, ridden by McLain Ward, owned by Turnabout Farm
Photo Credit: Randi Muster

Of the remaining entries, none could catch Ward who is riding as a member of the U.S. team in the week’s CSIO team jumping competition and is currently the leading money-winner in the race to qualify for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational that will provide the culmination of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on April 3. The closest challenge to Ward came from Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, NJ who turned in a clean ride in 58.263 seconds on Three Coins to finish third behind Ward and Pratt.

The North American League (NAL) runs season-long series in six hunter and jumper divisions – Children’s Hunter, Children’s Jumper, Adult Hunter, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and Open Jumper Speed. Each series culminates with a championship final at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, in October. Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in any qualifying classes, but only current members earn points toward year-end finals. For more information and a list of qualifying competitions for 2004, please visit the Ryegate Show Services website at

Prior to the Acorn Hill Farm Challenge, Ward gave a preview of what was to come when he topped a 57-horse field in the CSIO’s 1.45m class. Riding Goldika 559, owned by Double H Farm, Ward was the first to try the 14-effort, one-round course. He finished fault-free in a time of 60.63 seconds. Incredibly, none of the remaining 56 entries could match the performance of the two-time American Grandprix Association (AGA) Rider of the Year. Ten others did match his fault-free ride, but none could catch his time. Coming closest was Chapot, who rode 33rd in the order and finished in 61.22 seconds for a second-place finish.

Sydney Olympic veteran Lauren Hough of Wellington, FL finished third with a clean ride in 64.08 seconds on Merlin and Eric Flameng of Belgium was fourth with a clean ride in 64.75 seconds on Mazelle.

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.


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)


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 Publix and The Tampa Tribune


Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

April 9 -11 Charlotte Jumper Classic CSI****

April 11 $150,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte For the Charlotte Bobcat Cup


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