Harrisburg, PA – In a thrilling conclusion to open jumper competition at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, McLain Ward rode First Lady to the win in the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, presented by Forrester Farm Equipment, for the second year in a row.
Ward and the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare, owned by Robin Parsky, were one of six entries that advanced to jump-off over the short course set in the Harrisburg Coliseum by course designer Nicholas Granat.
Laura Chapot was the first to return, and she set a quick time to beat at 33.566 seconds. That time would hold up through to the final entry in the ring, Ward and First Lady. As the crowd favorites flew over the final orange and white oxer, a loud cheer erupted as the duo had done it; they shaved roughly nine-tenths of a second off of Chapot’s time to finish in a winning 32.684 seconds. With Ward taking first and Chapot in second, third place went to Jimmy Torano and Kochio Z.
“First Lady has really become at home in this arena,” said Ward, who, immediately prior to the class, was inducted into the PNHS Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Wheeler Family. “She’s been phenomenal. I’m very excited for her performance and for Robin Parsky, her owner and a great supporter of the U.S. equestrian team and myself. It’s great to get a win for all of our people.”
Ward continued, “We acquired [First Lady] when she was a 7-year-old with great potential. We developed her; we had some ups and downs – mostly ups – and she’s really come along incredibly within the last year.”
In addition to the win, Ward also finished in fifth aboard Quimi del Maset, owned by Sport Four USA, LLC.
“My younger horse, Quimi, was a little bit nervous with the crowd in the jump-off,” said Ward of the 9-year-old Spanish Sport Horse gelding. “They were enthusiastic, and it’s always great to have them behind you. This is an agricultural part of the world, and they understand horses and animals, and you see their enthusiasm for the sport.”
Following his win on Saturday, Ward will turn his attention to representing the U.S. team aboard Contagious at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, beginning October 31.
“It’s always great to have confidence [ahead of the Pan Am Games],” explained Ward. “I’m riding a different horse in Chile, but I love it when these horses are going well and we feel like we’re doing our job well. We had a great week [in Harrisburg]. We have a new horse who performed very well in Kyrlanthe, and First Lady did her job. I’m very happy with all the horses all around.”
For the Saturday night win, Ward was presented with the Harrisburg Kiwanis Club Challenge Trophy, and First Lady’s caretakers received the Moira Jane Caffarey – George L. Hennessy Memorial Perpetual Trophy.
Thanks to Ward’s successful performances throughout the week in the 1.45m Jumpers, he also received the division championship. Both the Leading Lady Rider Award for the 1.45m Jumpers and the overall Leading Lady Rider Award for Open Jumpers, sponsored by Brandywine Tent Rental, went to Chapot. For the overall honor, she was presented with the Wissie Brede Memorial Challenge Troph, donated by Debbie Stephens, Jeff Wirthman and Tom Wright.
For full results of the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, presented by Forrester Farm Equipment, visit pnhs.showmanagementsystem.com.