Wellington, Florida, USA – February 22, 2023 – Two-time Olympic team gold medalist for the U.S., McLain Ward (USA) kicked off WEF 7 with a win in the $39,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI 5* 1.45m aboard the pint-sized superstar Catoki on Wednesday.
Ward took to Steve Stephens and Nick Granat’s (USA) two-round track against 55 competitors. Catoki, a 14-year-old Westphalian gelding (Catoki x Caretello B). The pair put in the fastest time of the day finishing in 24.18 seconds over the speed portion of the course.
The second fastest ride of the class went to Tanner Korotkin (USA) and Quinn 33 (24.23) for owner Rupert Carl Winkelmann, and third place went to Emilie Conter (BEL) and the Stephex Stables-owned Clochard (24.55).
Ward and Catoki picked up the first grand prix win of the WEF 2023 season in the $75,000 Prestige Italia Grand Prix and are showing no signs of slowing down. “Obviously, this is Catoki’s role in life. He’s had a nice little rest since early in the circuit, so he was fresh, but it was set up well for him,” said Ward. “One of the things I have to manage with him is that I don’t go too fast, so when it’s the short speed phase, that helps a little bit. I like to go early, I ride my round and hopefully put a little pressure on, but Tanner almost got me. The young ones are always nipping at my heels, but we held up.”
When cantering towards 1.45m oxer on a 15.2 hand horse, perspectives can change, but Ward says Catoki’s size is nothing but a positive. “He’s basically a pony, and everything happens so fast, but he has the heart of a lion and he’s jumped some massive classes. He’s very brave and matches that with speed and quality which makes for a great partner.”
Final Results – $39,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI 5*
1) McLain Ward (USA) & Catoki – 0 / 0 – 24.18
2) Tanner Korotkin (USA) & Quinn 33 – 0 / 0 – 24.23
3) Emilie Conter (BEL) & Clochard – 0 / 0 – 24.55
Source: Press Release from Equestrian Sports Productions
Photos: © Wellington International / Sportfot / Maddy Lima