Home: Brewster, NY
Born: October 17, 1975
One of this country’s most accomplished riders with two Olympic Gold Medals, McLain Ward first made history with two impressive wins in 1990. At the tender age of 14, he became the youngest rider to win the USET Show Jumping Talent Derby. Ten weeks later, he became the youngest rider to win the USET Medal Finals and in so doing, also became the first rider to win both titles in the same year. He also made his Grand Prix debut that same year. Ward was part of the Gold Medal Team at the North American Young Riders' Championships in, 1991. That year he was named American Grandprix Association Rookie of the Year.
In 1993, his last year as a junior rider, Ward won the Washington International Horse Show Equitation Championship and was reserve Champion in the ASPCA Maclay National Championship. Just hours after his Maclay performance, he again made history by riding in the Grandprix of New York, making him the first rider to compete in the Maclay Championship and the Grandprix of New York in the same year.
In 1997, Ward earned the right to represent the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) at the World Cup Final by topping the United States East Coast League standings. Ward received a USET grant to represent the U.S. on a 1997 European tour where the USET captured Nations’ Cup victories at Rome and St. Gallen. He was one of 12 riders to contribute to the USET’s win in the inaugural Samsung Nations’ Cup Series in 1997.
Ward opened the 1998 season with four major wins on the Winter Equestrian Festival tour. He won the $100,000 Budweiser American Invitational, $100,000 Bayer/USET Wellington Cup, $50,000 Coca Cola Inaugural Cup, and the Budweiser/AGA Show Jumping Championship. From Florida, Ward moved on to a one-two finish in the $35,000 Ox Ridge Grand Prix, capturing the USET’s Zone 1 Regional Show Jumping Championship. In all Ward had 11 Grand Prix wins in 1998 and he was named the Budweiser/AGA Rider of the Year and his horse, “Twist du Valon”, was the Budweiser/AGA Horse of the Year.
Ward started 1999 with four Grand Prix wins at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL and became the youngest rider to pass the $1 million mark in Grand Prix winnings. Ward’s streak continued through the spring and summer when he topped Grand Prix classes from Virginia to New Hampshire, where he earned a remarkable third consecutive victory in the $50,000 U.S. Open Jumper Championship. Ward’s season culminated with his 13th Grand Prix victory of the year in the $125,000 Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic Horse Show. This was the second consecutive year that Ward won the feature presentation at the prestigious Bridgehampton, NY, show.
Ward posted another string of victories in 2000, including wins in the US Open Jumper Championship, the Grand Prix of Tampa and the Garden State Grand Prix.
He continued to earn top finishes in 2001, when he took 2nd place in the $100,000 Rolex USET Show Jumping Championship on “Cameo”, 1st place in the $25,000 Adequan Fiesta Day Grand Prix on “Viktor” and 2nd in the $150,000 Prudential Financial Grand Prix on “Fior” at the Hampton Classic Horse Show.
In 2002, Ward tied for fourth place in the FEI World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany on “Viktor”, whom he rode to win the $75,000 Grand Prix Of Devon just one month later. He also won the $50,000 Rolex USET Show Jumping Championship at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions.
In April 2003, Ward was honored as the American Grandprix Association’s Rider of the Year for the second consecutive year and third time overall. In August, 2003, Ward won the $150,000 Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic Horse Show for a record-tying third time. In 2004, Ward had 15 Grand Prix wins and won an Olympic Gold Medal as part of the U.S. team at the Athens Olympic Games.
He had four Grand Prix wins in 2005, and added an additional four in 2006. He continued his success in 2007 with a win in the CN Worldwide Florida Open Grand Prix which offered the largest purse in U.S. history for an outdoor Grand Prix event of €300,000. His 2007 season ended with 10 total wins, his selection as the American Grandprix Association Tour Rider of the Year and, most importantly marrying his fiancée Lauren.
At the 2008 Winter Equestrian Festival, Ward was given a bye for the 2008 Olympic Selection Trials and capped his stay in Florida with another win in the culminating event, The Budweiser American Invitational. He then went on to claim a second consecutive Olympic team Gold Medal.
Ward’s 2009 saw him win 18 grand prix events; including the three biggest events of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL and then place second by the narrowest of margins in the most dramatic finish in the 31-year history of the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals. He went on to big wins at the Hampton Classic and the Spruce Meadows Masters leading to his mare, “Sapphire”, being named Show Jumping Horse of the Year.
In 2010, Ward added more major wins in the United States and Europe, including a record fifth win in the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier at the Hampton Classic Horse Show. Ward also represented the United States at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY, where he and “Sapphire” finished seventh individually.
In 2011, Ward led the nation with 20 Grand Prix wins. He helped lead the United States to a team Gold Medal at the Pan America Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. He suffered a broken knee cap at the start of the 2012 season, putting him out of the action for more than three months. After overcoming the injury to his knee cap, Ward came back and was named to the 2012 US Olympic Team. Ward had multiple victories in 2012 including the Pfizer 1 Million Dollar Grand Prix, the Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon and the Alltech National Horse Show Grand Prix.
Ward started strong in 2013 and won a WEF Challenge Cup, and the $200,000 American Invitational with “Rothchild.” The duo then went on to win the $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon at the Devon Horse Show where Ward was titled Leading Open Jumper Rider. Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, was a successful show for Ward, as he won several big classes on various horses at both the CSI5* and CSI4*-W shows. In November, Ward and “Rothchild” were victorious yet again, as they took top honors in the $100,000 Hickstead FEI World Cup Grand Prix, which Ward has won five times in his career. In all, Ward won 13 Grand Prix in 2013.
In 2014 Ward had numerous top placings including two wins at WEF. He then headed to Europe, where he and “Rothchild” won the €300,000 Antwerp Grand Prix in Belgium, part of the Longines Global Champions Tour, followed by the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Lyon, France, where he finished ninth. It was a golden year for Ward at Spruce Meadows with many wins including a Grand Prix victory aboard “Rothchild.”
After a trip back ‘across the pond’, Ward and “Rothchild” helped the U.S. Team claim victory in the Nations Cup at Hickstead. The duo were then selected to compete at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, where they helped the U.S. win the bronze medal. The pair then stepped into the winner’s circle at the Barcelona CSIO5* in Spain, after clinching the €300,000 Challenge Cup.
Back on home soil, Ward won the $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix for the fourth time at the Washington International Horse Show, this time on “HH Carlos Z”. Just a few days later Ward and “Rothchild” took second place in the World Cup qualifier at the National Horse Show followed by a victory in the $100,000 Hickstead FEI World Cup Grand Prix at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto.
Ward had an exceptional year in 2015, beginning with several wins at WEF aboard “HH Carlos Z”, including the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* and helping the U.S. win the gold medal in the FEI Nations Cup™. McLain and his wife Lauren welcomed their daughter Lilly Kristine into the world on February 9, 2015. In April Ward made his 16th FEI World Cup Jumping Final appearance with “Rothchild” in Las Vegas.
Ward’s tremendous success continued throughout the season, winning the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix and the $35,000 Grand Prix of North Salem at the Old Salem Horse Show with “HH Carlos Z” and the $50,000 Old Salem Grand Prix with “HH Azur.” At the “North American Tournament” at Spruce Meadows in Canada he and “Rothchild” won the $210,000 CP Grand Prix CSI5* and he also clinched the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup CSI5* with “HH Azur.” Ward and his long-time partner “Rothchild” were part of the Team Bronze-medal winning efforts at the 2015 Pan American Games, where he also won the individual Gold medal.
Ward’s trips to the winner’s circle also included victories in the $100,000 Ulcergard Grand Prix at the New York Horse & Pony Show with “HH Carlos Z” and the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier CSI4* at the Hampton Classic with “HH Azur,” the horse on which he also won the $132,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto for a third consecutive year as well as the $75,000 Big Ben Challenge.
Ward’s hot streak continued in 2016. On the winter circuit as he scored several victories in Florida including the $50,000 Longines Qualifier and $380,000 Suncast CSI5* Grand Prix with “HH Carlos Z.” He and “Rothchild” were victorious in the $380,000 Fidelity Investments CSI5* Grand Prix at WEF followed by a win in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Thermal.
In May Ward won the $130,000 Empire State CSI3* Grand Prix aboard “Tina La Boheme” at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show. Ward was short-listed for the U.S. Team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with two of his top horses “HH Azur” and “Rothchild” and at the U.S. Team observation events in Europe, Ward dominated the Rome CSIO5*, winning two classes with “HH Carlos Z.” He and “HH Azur” helped the U.S. Team win a Silver medal in the Nations Cup with double clear rounds, and they also captured the $220,000 Grand Prix of Rome. Just days later, back on home ground at Devon Horse Show, he took both first and second in the $50,000 Devon Welcome Stake with “Tina La Boheme” and “Rothchild” respectively.
The highlight of Ward’s year was being chosen as a member of the U.S. Team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, his fourth consecutive Olympic appearance. Riding “HH Azur,” Ward helped the U.S. win the Team Silver medal and he took ninth place individually.
Ward’s first competition back on U.S. soil was the Hampton Classic, where he and “HH Carlos Z” won the $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, followed by a seventh place in the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI4*. He also scored another victory with “Tina La Boheme” in the $30,000 Boar’s Head Open Jumper Challenge.
At the Washington International Horse Show, Ward and “ZZ Top VH Schaarbroek Z” put on their wings, jumping clear over the 7-foot wall in the Puissance to tie for first place with Aaron Vale. He then won the Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier at the Royal Winter Horse Show in Toronto, Canada, aboard “HH Azur,” where he also won the $35,000 Jolera International Jumper Welcome class aboard “Malou.”
Ward has continued his winning ways in 2017. He and his Olympic mount “HH Azur” started off the season in a big way, winning the $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI5* at WEF. The pair then dominated the 2017 LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Final in Omaha from start to finish, ultimately winning Ward the title of FEI World Cup™ Champion!
For the ninth time in his career, Ward won the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*, this time aboard “Rothchild” before going to the Old Salem Farm Spring Show where he and “HH Carlos Z” won both the $35,000 New York Welcome Stake CSI2* and the $35,000 Welcome Stake of North Salem CSI3*, in which he also took second with “Tina La Boheme.”
At the Spruce Meadows CSI5*, Ward earned several top-ten placings along with victories in the
RoadTrek Cup 1.50m on “HH Callas,” the ATCO Classic CSI5* with “Tina La Boheme,” and the Akita Drilling Cup with “HH Carlos.”
Ward again earned top placings at the Hampton Classic, winning the $15,000 LeSportsac Speed Derby with Bellefleur PS Z, who is owned by Ward's godmother, Susie Heller, and his daughter, Lilly. He then scored second place in the $50,000 Longines Cup aboard “Cartouche” and third place in the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix with “HH Callas,” the horse he then placed second with two weeks later in the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York CSI4*-W at the American Gold Cup.
It was a bittersweet win for Ward at the Washington International Horse Show as he won the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final with his long-time partner “HH Carlos Z.” As the pair entered the arena for their victory gallops, it was announced that “Carlos” would be officially retired.
In his usual fashion, Ward had a highly successful start to his 2018 season at WEF with many victories and trips to the winner’s circle. Aboard “Hija Van Strokapelleken,” Ward won the $132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round VII CSI5* and just days later claimed victory in the $132,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round IX CSI5*. He and Bellefleur Ps Z claimed the $70,000 Hollow Creek Classic CSI 5*. Ward and the incredible “HH Azur” also claimed the $132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round V. Ward ended the winter circuit on a high note with first and second places in the final event of the circuit, the $50,000 CP 1.50m National Grand Prix with “Clinta” and “Bellefleur PS Z” respectively.
Ward made his 18th trip to the FEI World Cup Final in Paris, France, to defend his title, had another top finish taking fourth place aboard “HH Azur.” After returning stateside, Ward thrilled a hometown crowd with a flawless triumph in the $382,800 Longines Grand Prix of New York during the final day of the highly-anticipated Longines Masters of New York.
Ward was truly the “King of Devon” when he made history at the Devon Horse Show after winning the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4* aboard “Clinta,” beating 31 contenders to claim the title for a record tenth time!
In the spring Ward was named to the Short List for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ U.S. Show Jumping Team. In June, HH Azur was declared the Longines FEI World's Best Jumping Horse by the FEI.
McLain is married to Lauren Ward, and they have a daughter, Lilly Ward.