San Juan Capistrano, CA – McLain Ward rode Kasper van het Hellehof to a thrilling victory in the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix in front of a full crowd at the San Juan Capistrano International on Friday, May 12, in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios set a challenging track on the grass Oaks International Grand Prix Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park that saw only two of 21 entries produce clear rounds. From there, it came down to a showdown between Ward and Mexico’s Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia.
McLain Ward and Kasper van het Hellehof were presented as the winners of the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix. Joining them in the presentation were San Juan Capistrano Mayor Howard Hart and his wife, Laura; West-Coast-based owner Robin Parsky of the Kasper Group LLC; City Council Members John Campbell and Tami Wilhelm; Longines West Coast Regional Sales Manager Kirsten Warner; and Hillary Ridland, CEO of Blenheim EquiSports and the President of the Nations Cup Organizing Committee. Photo by McCool Photography
Aboard H-Lucky Retto, owned by Eguia and P Dolfsma, Eguia was the first to return for the short course, and he set the standard for Ward to beat at 38.31 seconds. Ward and Kasper van het Hellehof rose to the occasion on their U.S. home turf, clearing the final Longines vertical in 37.42 seconds for the win. While second place went to Eguia, Brazil’s Cassio Rivetti rounded out the top three aboard Nadale van Dorperheide.
“Kasper really performed beautifully,” said Ward. “He’s been a great campaigner for us. [Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia] I thought actually did the smart round. That’s what I thought he was going to do – be neat and clear and try to hope that I made a mistake and had a fence down. The first turn wasn’t great for me; Kasper’s left turn is a little bit difficult. He likes to kind of run off to the right. When I got that under my belt, I thought, ‘Just keep it smooth.’ I knew I was able to do one less to the last than Antonio.”
Conor Swail Continues CSI2* Domination in $40,000 Winning Round, Presented by Walter Oil & Gas Corporation
Ireland’s Conor Swail claimed his third CSI2* win of the week on Friday, May 12, this time earning victory in the $40,000 CSI2* Winning Round, presented by Walter Oil & Gas Corporation, aboard Vital Chance de la Roque.
“It’s been great!” said Swail of his winning week at the San Juan Capistrano International in California. “It’s a great facility. I love grass fields. I grew up in Ireland and riding in a lot of grass fields, so this is very natural for me to ride in. I’m really, really enjoying myself.”
Conor Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque. Photo by McCool Photography
While Swail may have been a favorite for the win in Friday’s class given his back-to-back wins aboard Gamble earlier in the week, the victory was far from handed to him. Twenty-six entries contested the first-round track, and the top 10, regardless of faults, were then invited back on a clean slate for the second round.
Cover photo: McLain Ward and Kasper van het Hellehof. Photo by McCool Photography
Snapshots From the Show
All photos by Alden Corrigan Media, McCool Photography and RandolphPR