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McLain Ward latest Whitney Stone Cup recipient

December 2, 2009

McLain Ward and Sapphire. © Ken Braddick/FEI

The USET Foundation has awarded the Whitney Stone Cup to showjumper McLain Ward.

The cup is awarded annually by the USET Foundation Executive Committee to an active competitor who displays consistent excellence in international competition, high standards of sportsmanlike conduct, while also serving as an ambassador for the United States and equestrian sport.

The Whitney Stone Cup is given in honor of the late Whitney Stone, who served as President and Chairman of the Board of the USET. Whitney Stone led the USET from 1953 to 1973. He was instrumental in the creation of a civilian team when the Army retired from competitive horse sports after 1948.

"It's a great honor," Ward said. "It's a very prestigious award at the highest level of the sport. It's humbling when you read the list of equestrians that have won it. You're a part of that select group for the rest of your life. At the end of the day, I owe this to having a great horse in Sapphire, the owners for all of my horses, and a great group of people behind me."

Ward was also honored that the award recognizes those who are an ambassador for the sport.

"When you represent the United States, you try and conduct yourself in a professional manner, win or lose," he said. "You promote America at its best with our riding and our system and what made us successful."

McLain Ward has been at the top of the sport for many years and has accumulated two team Olympic gold medals. In 2009, he entered another level of winning with his amazingly consistent mount Sapphire, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock.

The pair started out the year with wins in the $150,000 CN CSIO Grand Prix, the $200,000 CN Grand Prix, and $400,000 FTI Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Florida. On other horses, Ward won another four $25,000 grand prix events at WEF.

Ward and Sapphire continued on to the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas and put in five clear rounds to finish second in the championship. When they represented the United States in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup tour, they scored double clear rounds in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and in Aachen, Germany. Sapphire jumped clear in the Grand Prix of Aachen, one of the most prestigious classes in the world.

Sapphire and Ward returned to North America in the fall and took home two more huge wins in the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic Horse Show and the CN $1 Million Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Ward ranks his win in Calgary as the best individual finish of his career.

All in all, Ward won 23 USEF Computer List classes this year. Sapphire won just under $1 million, and Ward totalled just over $1.4 million in prize money this year.

"McLain is not only one of this country's top equestrian athletes, but one of the best international competitors in our sport," said USET Foundation President and CEO, Jane F Clark. "His great talent and representation of this country make him a very deserving recipient of the USET Foundation's prestigious Whitney Stone Cup."



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