Annnd they’re coming up the long side.
Canada’s Eric Lamaze leads the charge.
The American is hot on his heels.
McLain Ward makes a move on the inside. He’s gaining ground. Ward makes a break!
In the horse race that is McLain Ward and Eric Lamaze’s WEF Challenge Cup record—the highly decorated pair have won the class 26 and 27 times, respectively—the US veteran has moved to close the gap.
On Thursday, Ward racked up his 26th victory in the history of the class, taking the $132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 7 with Hija van Strokapelleken at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. It’s Ward’s second five-star Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup of the season (he won week five’s class with HH Azur), and Hija van Strokapelleken fourth victory since the 2017 FEI World Cup champion took over the reins in January.
At their current win rate, it won’t be their last.
The 11-year-old BWP mare was originally purchased for USA’s Jennifer Gates, but last campaigned under Egypt’s Nayel Nassar. She returned to Ward to be sold and, in the past two months, has collected victories at WEF, the Palm Beach Masters and HITS Ocala.
“She’s a really big mare,” said Ward. “Probably that’s why Jenn let Nayel and myself ride her, because we’re taller. But it’s funny, once you get on her, other than her stride being massive which I use to my advantage, she doesn’t feel so big. She’s really rideable, has a lot of blood, and she’s slab-sided, so she doesn’t take up so much of your leg. When you first walk up to get on her, she looks massive, but when you ride her, you don’t notice her size so much. She doesn’t ride like a big horse.”
Lamaze meanwhile sits on 27 WEF Challenge Cup wins to date, after collecting two victories this season.
*A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Lamaze had 25 WEF Challenge Cup victories and Ward, 27.