Toronto hosted the world’s best on Wednesday night for the $125,000 Longines World Cup Grand Prix at the Royal. It was McLain and his Olympic prospect HH Azur to manage the only double-clear over the tricky course to take blue.
Richard Jeffery’s course proved no easy feat. Though rails tumbled throughout, the biggest bogey of the night was the second fence. The substantial purple FEI oxer came quick off the turn, catching many of the horses off guard, the first rail falling as a consequence.
In the field of 22 just 2 went clear, the zero-fault rides coming back-to-back. First clean was 14th in the order, Irish rider Dermott Lennon aboard Loughview Lou-Lou, a 13 year-old Irish Sport Horse mare. McLain Ward was next up aboard HH Azur who jumped big and bold, showing her budding superstar status.
Lennons and Lou-Lou had an unfortunate 8 faults in the jump-off and clocked in at 42.04. With the pressure off, Ward guided HH Azur around the shorter track as though it was an equitation round, keeping the rails up and crossing the finish at 47.58, sealing Ward 7th win in Toronto.
Ward and HH Azur add this to a string of wins over the summer, including the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic, and the $50,000 Old Salem Grand Prix, among others.
The top 3 finishers were all aboard mares, and they were certainly feisty at the awards presentation. McLain had to resort to “drive by” photos, Azure a rearing in blur in the background as celebrated her victory. Despite her antics, she’s in good form and looks on track for Rio.