McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., won his sixth Devon Grand Prix last night. He captured the $100,000 class at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair aboard Sapphire, his partner for two gold medals with the Olympic equestrian team.
But it was not easy for Ward. Hillary Dobbs, first to go in the four horse jump-off from a starting field of 26, jumped a clear round in 42.562 seconds on Quincy B.
Ward and Sapphire narrowly beat Dobbs, finishing in 42.516.
Callan Solem, riding Quiet Winter Farm's Allison, had four faults in 42.880 to place third. Ward, riding 8-year-old Rothschild in addition to Sapphire, knocked down a rail in finishing fourth in 43.129.
"I brought Sapphire here because it is the most important show in this country," said Ward, who hopes to make next summer's World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky., and a third Olympic team in the 2012 London Games.
"Sapphire jumped the first round like an equitation horse," Ward said. "In the jump-off, going to the last fence, the eight strides got very short."
"I was thrilled to finish in the same second as McLain," said Dobbs, the daughter of CNN's Lou Dobbs. The resident of Sussex, N.Y., rode the Jumper Champion at Devon last year.
"Knowing Sapphire was going after me, I had to take a shot right off the bat," Dobbs said. This is one of the faster, cleaner jump-offs for this horse, so this was a step up.
"I was thrilled to be here," said Solem, of Colts Neck, N.J. "Allison loves this venue. She's 17, so every class I get to do with her is a bonus."
The 2-year-old thoroughbred Hold On To Dreams, handled by Kenny Wheeler of Keswick, Va., was named Best Young Horse.
Junior Johnson of Oilville, Va., won the Leading Handler Award.