Aachen, Germany – In a masterful show of talent and speed, McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Contagious captured their second win of the week at CHIO Aachen, tackling the 1.60m track designed by Frank Rothenberger (GER) in the main stadium. The pair dashed through the jump-off timers in 41.70 seconds, the only combination in the jump-off field of seven to finish under 42 seconds. Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Albfuehren’s Maddox finished in second place with a time of 42.38 seconds, while Jur Vrieling (NED) and Fiumicino van de Kalevallei took third, stopping the timers in 42.79 seconds.
Ward and Contagious, a 2009 Deutches Sportpferd gelding owned by Beechwood Stables LLC, have been unstoppable this week in individual competition, capturing Ward’s first career victory in the Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe on Wednesday before returning to take top honors in today’s class. The class saw 54 total entries contest the track, with many of the top riders in the world returning to vie for top honors.
“When you start to see things like the double liverpool it starts to catch your attention. I think the number of clear rounds both over the course today and on Wednesday shows how many horses and riders are focused on this event and the quality of the ground and that the horses are jumping great on this surface,” said Ward.
Ward will now rest Contagious and bring out his longtime partner HH Azur for the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen on Sunday afternoon. Ward’s transparency around his plan for Contagious this week allowed for the further building of confidence for Contagious who has stepped up to the plate and answered every question asked this week in impressive fashion.
“I knew the numbers a little bit and my horse can cover the ground pretty well and I knew the number of strides I could do in this jump-off,” said Ward. "It was very clear and the fourth oxer showed up very good for me and the green oxer on the double I did on a slice and I could have made up some time there,” he said. “Contagious has just really been with me for a while and particularly zeroing in on this event. Before last year, I never thought of the horse as an Olympic horse and then he went to the Olympics last year and performed at that level beautifully and he came out of the Olympics as a better horse, a more confident, bolder, stronger horse in that sense and he’s really on a roll and in really good form.”
Jumping competition will continue tomorrow with the FEI Youth Equestrian Games Individual Final at 1:15 p.m. The Allianz-Prize will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the Sparkassen-Youngsters Cup Final at 7:00 p.m.
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