Born: October 17, 1975
Hometown: Brewster, New York
McLain Ward has an international Grand Prix prowess that only continues to increase with age. In 1990, and at age 14, Ward became the youngest rider ever to win both the USET Medal Finals and the USET Talent Derby. He would go on to turn that into a legacy, winning the pair of competitions from 1990-1992. After graduating to the Grand Prix circuit, he wasted no time in making a name for himself, and fulfilled his first Olympic dream in August 2004. Just hitting his prime, Ward has already competed in more than 10 FEI World Cup Show Jumping Finals and numerous FEI Nations Cup competitions.
Ward and Sapphire at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, (Photo by Shannon Brinkman)
Ward was also a key part of the Gold medal-winning 2005 Samsung Super League team despite a fall on course at Hickstead, England, resulting in a broken collar bone. Ward courageously rode in Aachen not long after, and his double clears aboard Sapphire propelled the U.S. to the Nations Cup victory there.
Ward and Sapphire were members of the Silver medal-winning team at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.
The road to the 2008 Olympic Games and Ward and Sapphire’s second consecutive Gold medal quickly gained momentum including being a valuable part of the winning U.S. team at the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by CN at the Winter Equestrian Festival in March. Just one month later, they won the $200,000 Budweiser Invitational in Tampa in a deluge of rain and wind.
In 2009, the now two-time Olympic Gold medalists won at nearly every turn. The pair took home top honors in the $1 million CN International at the Spruce Meadows Masters - one of the most prestigious classes in the world. Also in 2009, they won the Devon Grand Prix for the second time.
They prepared diligently for the 2009 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final all winter and were rewarded with a second-place finish for their efforts.
For a second straight year, Ward and Sapphire won the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix at the end of March 2010. This came just two weeks after they secured a second place finish in the $200,000 WEF FEI World Cup Qualifier.
In the summer of 2010, Ward proved to be a force in Europe, jumping to many successful finishes all over the continent. With Sapphire, Ward won the coveted classes of the La Baule Grand Prix and the Rome Grand Prix. Ward finished off his summer in Europe by winning the prestigious Dublin Grand Prix with Antares F.
Ward and Sapphire continued to accumulate strong results in the fall of 2010. In September, they won the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier for a second consecutive year. The following week, Ward and Sapphire won the inaugural Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
In October 2010, Ward and Sapphire were the highest placed Americans at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY.
McLain Ward and Antares F. (Photo by Isabel Kurek)
Ward had another strong start to the 2011 season, jumping at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. In March, Ward and Sapphire teamed up for another U.S. win in the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4* presented by G&C Farm. With Antares F, Ward won Round 5 of the WEF Challenge Cup Series and placed second in the $150,000 Spy Coast FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI3* in a five-day span.
In April, Ward once again competed in the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany finishing in 10th place overall. Along the way, he piloted Antares F to a fifth-place finish in the second round of the 2011 Finals.
At the 36th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show in September Ward added to his illustrious resume, by tying his own record winning a Grand Prix at the Classic on three consecutive days. Ward and Antares F were victorious in the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix, this win tied Margie Engle’s record of winning the featured Grand Prix at the Classic for three consecutive years. This feat added to Ward’s own record of winning the Classic’s featured Grand Prix six times, twice as many as anyone else.
Ward and Antares F were part of the Gold Medal winning U.S. team at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The pair finished fourth individually overall.
In January 2012, Ward suffered a shattered knee-cap that kept him from riding for more than three months.
At the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show, Ward made his return to competition a noticeable one by winning the $40,000 Old Salem Grand Prix with Antares F. The following weekend, Ward won the $75,000 Empire State Grand Prix with Zander.
On May 14, 2012, Ward announced that Sapphire was retiring from competition. However, Ward would continue to make a big splash as he won the $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon the same night his longtime partner was officially retired. He then came back to put in a strong round for a second-place finish in the $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stakes at the same show with Antares F.
A month after Devon, Ward took his string to Spruce Meadows, winning at least one class at every show of the series except the "Continental" where he placed second in the Altagas Cup. Ward traveled to Europe in July to compete in the 2012 London Olympic Games for the United States and earned two thirds and two fourths in Chantilly, France as a preparation show for the event.
Ward is married to wife Lauren, who is an avid competitor in the amateur divisions.