Articles: Press Release
McLain Ward and Capitano Have Storybook Ending for Victory in $75,000
Grand Prix of Devon
PHOTO CREDIT: Capitano and McLain Ward, winners of the $75,000 Budweiser
Grand Prix of Devon. Capitano and Danielle Torano competing earlier this
week. Photo (c) 2006 Jennifer Wood/PhelpsSports.com.
Jennifer Wood of Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
at (561) 753-3389 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Devon, PA - June 1, 2006 - "I felt normal and perfect before, and then I
got on and had this funny feeling in my stomach. I thought, 'Don't
chance it.'" Those were the feelings running through Danielle Torano's
mind when she was warming up for tonight's $75,000 Budweiser Grand Prix
of Devon. When she was just five horses away from competing, she changed
her mind, jumped off, and she and husband Jimmy asked Olympic Gold
Medalist McLain Ward to ride Capitano in the grand prix.
Torano has known that she is pregnant for three months, and this week
was the last possible week for her to still be able to jump her horses.
Call it a feeling, a hunch, or woman's intuition, but Torano knew that
she should not ride in tonight's class. What started as a bad feeling
turned into a celebration when Ward rode the horse for the first time in
the schooling ring, went clear in the first round, had an amazing inside
turn in the jump-off that no one else attempted, and galloped home for
Tonight's course was designed by Germany's Olaf Peterson Jr. The class
had 29 entries and ten horses were clear in the first round. Two riders,
Keri Potter Pessoa and Patty Stovel, were clear but had time faults.
First to return for the jump-off was Paige Johnson and Kadena R, who
raced around the course only to pull the last rail down at the tall
plank vertical in a time of 41.612 seconds. Olympic veteran Anne
Kursinski and Roxana 112 were next in. As they jumped over the second
fence, Roxana 112 put her landing gear down early in the middle of the
oxer and then jolted them back up to clear the fence, which unseated
Kursinski enough so that she had to circle before the next jump. That
caused four faults, and they finished in 48.505 seconds.
Michael Walton and La Rocco Junior were next in, but they pulled two
rails for eight faults in a time of 47.818 seconds. Following them was
16 year old Addison Phillips, fresh off a Best Child Rider title the
previous week at Devon. She was on Trezebees, and they went whipping
around the jump-off course. They landed from the one stride and made a
phenomenal turn, cutting in between two standards with just inches to
spare, which caused the entire crowd to gasp at her daring move. She had
a huge lead on time as she jumped over the triple bar and headed to the
last vertical. Phillips galloped on and left out a stride to the last
jump, but Trezebees just barely knocked down the plank for four faults.
They finished in 37.898 seconds.
Little Big Man and Laura Chapot were the next big threat. The little
chestnut gelding flew around in his trademark style. They were the first
clear round of the jump-off and moved into the lead with a time of
40.933 seconds. Madison and Kent Farrington would follow with an
incredibly fast time of 37.916, but they were chasing for second place
as they had an unlucky rail at the second jump.
Next in was Ward on his unfamiliar mount Capitano. After the second
jump, every other rider elected to go around a vertical in a sharp
rollback to the big Budweiser oxer. As Ward approached the second jump,
he slightly moved to the right side and sliced across the jump to the
left, which gave him the opportunity to complete an inside turn to the
oxer. They finished the jump-off clean and in the fastest time of the
night, 37.673 seconds. "I had actually tried to recommend to Olaf to
leave in the white vertical. I wanted everybody to run around because I
didn't want to rollback that tight with Goldika," he revealed. "It
turned out to be my opportunity in the end."
Gerona 92 and Mary Lisa Leffler were out of the running when they pulled
a rail at the first jump and finished in 47.426 seconds. The next big
challenger was Max Amaya and the feisty bay gelding Church Road. They
were deceptively fast, as they did not make any big moves, but were very
quick across the jumps. They finished clear in a time of 40.616 seconds,
which would hold up for second place. Last in for the jump-off were Mark
Leone and Pinkata de Longpre. Leone settled for a slow, clear round and
fourth place in 50.151 seconds.
It was literally a last-second decision for Ward to ride Capitano, but
afterwards there were many smiling faces. Ward was confident in the
horse from the beginning. "He's a nice, good horse. I've seen him go a
bunch and knew he was honest and scopey and quality. I knew that he was
well trained. It wasn't really a safety issue," Ward explained. "The
horse was already entered, so it was a good economical decision. To be
honest, I figured it would be a chance to win a little bit more prize
money. It was great to win on Capitano."
He also rode his own horse Goldika 559 in the first round, but they had
one rail. "I thought it was a bit unlucky. She just touched a rail."
Most people would not consider riding a horse for the very first time in
a competitive grand prix such as Devon, but Ward felt comfortable riding
an unfamiliar horse. "The nice thing in that situation is that you don't
have a lot of pressure, and you ride off feel," he described. "You have
nothing to go with, so you do it off natural feel and a lot of times
that actually works better."
While Ward did not have any expectations, the situation changed after
the first round. He said with a laugh, "Jimmy said it was the first time
he ever saw me smile after a first round. I liked the story if we could
pull off the win, so I was bit hungry for it. I thought it would be a
cool thing to do."
Ward mentioned that he was pleased with the course set by Peterson. "I
thought it was an excellent course. It was a mixed field with some young
riders who really did great, which bodes well for the future. Then you
have great riders with their first horses. You don't want to hurt
anybody or get them in trouble," he commented. "I think this is a grand
prix where you should have a good jump-off. It's the only place in
America where people are still here in the pouring rain. Every other
show they would have left two hours ago. This is the best crowd we jump
in front of all year."
Peterson confirmed the fact that he set a course that would be inviting
for first-timers, but would still be challenging enough for the more
experienced horses and riders. "I knew yesterday; some riders told me
that their horses were in their first grand prix. I took that into the
situation. I prefer to have ten clear rounds than not so few," he said.
Regarding Phillips' unbelievable cut through two jumps he exclaimed, "I
did not expect her turn. That was really, really nice. With a 16 year
old, they don't think, but it's good! They just go for it and take it.
Normally, it's not possible to turn there. It's a pity that she had the
last rail." He also agreed that Ward's inside turn was what won the
class for him.
The Toranos made the last minute decision to have Ward ride Capitano and
see what would happen. "We thought McLain was the logical person, and he
was the only one who would get on and do it," Jimmy Torano acknowledged.
Danielle added, "He's the only one that we considered."
While Danielle Torano may have felt unsure about her ride, she knew that
Ward and Capitano would work well together. She said, "He's a super,
super horse. We trust him, and I thought McLain rode him picture
perfect. It was really fun to watch." She went on to explain why she
made her decision, "That feeling- I don't know what it was. I just knew
I wasn't focused enough. I was just too worried. I was concentrating on
that, and when I was going around I thought there was no way I can go in
there and jump the course. It's the first time it's happened. I was
struggling with when to stop. My doctor said that I was okay until this
week and then I had to stop jumping. I got on tonight, and I knew
immediately. This is it, I'm off."
Tonight was also a big finish for Max Amaya of Argentina, who had the
best grand prix finish in his career with Church Road, owned by Sarah
Becker and B&B Saddlery. "It is very big for me," he agreed. "This horse
show is so historical, and for me to do well is an honor."
Amaya has ridden Church Road for three years and is happy to see the ten
year old Irish Sport Horse evolve. "He has matured physically and
mentally," he said. "He multiplies his stride more than he carries
himself. Before if I pushed him, he got a little bit flat. Now he's
starting to learn when I push him to have a bigger stride without
"My plan was to go a fast as I could," he said. "Even without watching
Laura, I have seen her many times, and I have never beaten her. I was
surprised to beat her. On a normal day, I don't know if I would have
Chapot had explained before that Little Big Man was not quite himself
tonight, and going into the ring for the jump-off, there had been no
clear rounds before her. "I thought he wasn't quite as sparky because of
the heat and because he was so exuberant on Tuesday. Maybe he was a
little more tired than he usually is," she remarked. "I was just in my
head a little bit to be safe. I really probably shouldn't have because
he's so careful anyway. I was really happy with him tonight."
In the press conference after the grand prix, people were crowded around
to hear the amazing story of how McLain Ward got the ride on Danielle
Torano's fantastic horse. Although Torano doubted her decision to ride
in the grand prix originally, the tale had a happy ending. For the
Torano Family, this is just the beginning of another chapter in their
life. But whatever happens, there will always be humor from the
easygoing couple. When asked what they will name their baby, Jimmy
quickly quipped, "Not McLain!!"
Official Results: $75,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Devon, Dixon Oval
1. Capitano, McLain Ward: 0/0/37.673
Sir Ruly, Inc.
2. Church Road, Max Amaya: 0/0/40.616
Sarah Becker and B&B Saddlery
3. Little Big Man, Laura Chapot: 0/0/40.933
4. Pinkata de Longpre, Mark Leone: 0/0/50.151
Ri-Arm Farm, Inc.
5. Trezebees, Addison Phillips: 0/4/37.898
6. Madison, Kent Farrington: 0/4/37.916
7. Kadena R, Paige Johnson: 0/4/41.612
8. Gerona 92, Mary Lisa Leffler: 0/4/47.426
Rolling Acres Farm
9. Roxana 112, Anne Kursinski: 0/4/48.509
10. La Rocco Junior, Michael Walton: 0/8/47.818
Penlyn Farm Inc. and J. Peter Nissen
For full horse show results, please visit www.thedevonhorseshow.com
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