World #3 McLain Ward is renown for many things. Enthusiastic displays of excitement in the ring are not one of them.
On Saturday night at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL, that all changed.
The two-time Olympic team gold medalist went head-to-head in an epic 12-horse jump off that included eight Olympians, three of the top-ten ranked riders in the world, and an Olympic champion—all riding their best horses. In the end, it would be Ward and his superstar mare HH Azur would rein supreme. The Rio Olympic team silver medalists captured the $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5* for the second year in a row.
And then this happened.
The fist pump to end all fist pumps. The fist pump that will go down in history as the single most exuberant expression of joy Ward has ever unleashed in the ring. The fist pump that will set the standard for all fist pumps to come with its textbook perfect full elbow-to-arm extension. Because standards, people.
Said the typically more reserved athlete:
“I am thrilled with the mare. This is her first big start of the year. We gave her a little bit of a rest with the World Cup Finals in Omaha in mind. We have planned only two major weeks for her here.
“For myself, I have to say I was probably a bit motivated tonight. I have been on a little bit of a four-fault run and getting a little frustrated. Eric has been winning everything. Sometimes Eric says I have a look; I think I had it tonight. I wanted it a little bit.”
Here’s hoping it’s the first of many fist pumps to come from Ward in 2017.