Two-time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward edged out 17-year-old Lucy Deslauriers to win the $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by Longines for the second consecutive year at the 41st annual Hampton Classic Horse Show.

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z Win $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier
Photo credit: Shawn McMillen

Deslauriers went second of the eight who reached the jump-off by riding clear over the Alan Wade-designed first-round course. She set the mark to beat with a clean jump-off ride 40.75 seconds on Hester, owned by Lisa Deslauriers and it looked like she might have the blue ribbon until Ward, going next to last, clipped off more than a second on HH Carlos Z, owned by Double H Farm, stopping the timers at 39.31 seconds.

"Lucy is a great young rider with a very exciting future. I'm excited for her to be on some teams with me in the future, so my hat's off to her," said Ward. "I have a seasoned horse and he's very good at the speed part. Normally, if he's in the jump-off, we have a very good chance to win. He just has great foot speed."

Deslauiers was amazed at her runner-up finish. "It was a really great class and I am almost shocked at the results," said Deslauriers. "My horse is incredible and I didn't have much to lose going against these top riders. I just gave it my all and hoped it would be enough. Losing to McLain is not a very bad thing."

One year ago, Ward won this class on HH Azur on his way to the Rio Olympic Games, where the pair won a team silver medal, but this year he almost didn't make it past the first round with Carlos Z.

"I didn't think I rode him well in the first round," said Ward. "I lost my stirrup, which I can't remember the last time that's happened, so I thought I was a little bit lucky to get a clear. Sometimes that just works in your favor; you just take a deep breath."


Douglas Elliman Awards Presentation with McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z
Photo credit: Shawn McMillen

The victory in the second of four FEI classes at this year's Classic moved Ward up to second place in the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge with 190 points and also earned him a Longines Timepiece. Richie Moloney is still in the lead with 216.5 points. Catherine Tyree is third with 187 points.

Ward's win also earned at least $15,000 for Caring Hearts for Canines as part of the Classic's new Jump for Charity program. "It is always great to be able to do something to help a worthy cause and this means a lot to me," said Ward.

"Words cannot describe how excited we are. For a small charity like ours this money means an awful lot. Because of Mclain, lots of dogs will be able to find homes," said Kate Soroka, a member of the Board of Caring Hearts for Canines.