Winning Wednesday for Ward in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5*
McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki take the win in the the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5*. © Sportfot

Winning Wednesday for Ward in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5*

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On the opening day of week seven at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki, owned by Marilla van Beuren, Bob Russell, and McLain Ward, took home the title in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5* held in the International Arena on Wednesday, February 24, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).

Ward and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Catoki x Cartello B, raced to the finish line, leaving all the jumps up in a time of 28.86 seconds.

“He’s a very fast horse,” said Ward. “He doesn’t actually have the biggest stride but his legs are moving very quick so that allows you to just do your round. You don’t have to do anything extreme; he’s just such a fast type. You’re not really pushing the envelope a lot, and that’s why he’s so consistently at the top of these classes.”

Just one-tenth of a second behind was Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam with his ride for The Blue Buckle Group, Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Casantos x Action-Breaker, stopping the clock at 28.96 seconds. Meanwhile fellow Irishman Daniel Coyle found himself on the podium in third place with Amalia, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Arezzo Vdl x Kyacinthe owned by Ariel Grange, finishing in 29.02 seconds

Ward and Catoki have already had success during the winter circuit picking up a grand prix win during WEF Premiere week along with a second-place finish in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5* during WEF 5. While their success in the ring is proven, their preparation for the horse show is anything but conventional.

“We just turn him out,” said Ward. “I never ride him between shows. He lunges a tiny bit on the day he shows but you can’t really do much with him but show. Once he starts jumping, he’s so eager, so aggressive, we just try to mellow him out and let him put a little weight on. He’s like a little racehorse. We try to just keep everything low key and trust that he knows his job when he competes.

“He feels most days that he’s going to make a good effort,” Ward continued. “The warmup is interesting. He trots around like he could do the children’s hunter class; you can’t make him go, and as soon as you pick up the canter to the first jump, he’s kind of off to the races. We just try to manage that, not do very much, and stay out of his way.”

As the page turns to the second half of the 2021 WEF, the caliber of competition in attendance this year remains at the highest level. With perhaps the most competitive group of riders at WEF to date, even Ward, currently ranked number 14 in the world, is feeling the heat.

“The best in the world and more have funneled here right now,” he said. “We’re fantastically lucky that we’re able to be up and running and compete with all the precautions and people that are making it possible. We’re all very grateful. On one hand, it’s great to really push the envelope as far as the level of the sport and have the best [here]; but on the other hand, it’s hard to win and you’re really on the line all the time.”

Full results here