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The current World No. 4 rider delivered the only double clear effort of the evening, besting a five-man jump-off to clinch his fourth consecutive FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto win, as well as $130,270.
A challenging track featured a triple combination, a massive triple bar set at 1.90m wide, and flowing turns that tested horse and riders’ skill to the limits in-between fences.
“Experience tells us that when you build something like that, a little bit quick and not too big but delicate, the course was rider demanding but not horse demanding, the cream rises to the top,” said course designer, Bernardo Cabral.
“The course actually came very fast at you and I think that’s why a lot of the rails went down,” said Ward. “The jumps were quite careful; it wasn’t a huge course and there wasn’t a whole lot of time in between jumps.”
“I love this venue, I’ve been coming up here since I was 17,” said the New York State resident. “I love the fact that they’ve kept the first-class ambience here. It’s like you go back in time. It’s something we rarely see any more in the world. I think we’ve lost something with losing that. So I appreciate it and it gets my blood up.”
It was Kent Farrington and Creedance who produced the quickest round of the night in 35.19 seconds but would finish on 4 faults, placing them at second.
At night’s end, it was McLain who delivered the evening’s first and only double clear, recording a time of 36.02 seconds to secure the victory. His win boosted him from 11th place to third in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League’s qualifier.
“Last week in Kentucky, Kent laid down such an incredible round so I was trying to catch him,” Ward added. “But when you’re pressing that hard often a mistake happens and it did: Kent and Nick both had a fence down today so it took a lot of that pressure off.”
“This venue has been very good to me so it’s like coming home. When you have a horse like Azur you just try and stay out of her way, and she’s normally giving a great performance. Every once in a while, I don’t mess it up.”
The next leg for the Eastern Sub-Leagues takes place in Wellington, Florida (USA), February 1-5 2017.
Text by Esther Hahn & Paul Stretton/FEI
Images by Cara Grimshaw/FEI