It's the end of a Show Jumping era, as McLain Ward of Brewster NY, announced the retirement of his Olympic partner Sapphire. This decision comes on the heels of Ward’s triumphant return to the show ring, and anticipated selection for the U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team.
Mclain Ward and Sapphire. Photo by Ken Braddick. Republished from EquiFit, inc.
Ward took over the ride on Sapphire in 2002, and in their 10 years together the duo became the team to beat in the world of show jumping. Sara, as she is affectionately known, amassed countless Grand Prix wins around the world. Some of her most notable include 2 Olympic Gold Medals, at the 2004 and 2008 Games, a Silver medal at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, winner of the 2009 CN International $1 Million Grand Prix, winner of the 2010 HITS Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, placing 2nd in the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Final, and back to back wins in the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and World Cup Qualifier at the Hampton Classic in 2009 and 2010.
In March of 2011, Sapphire sustained an injury that sidelined her for the season. This past January, she showed she was back in form, competing successfully in the 1.40m at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Shortly after her return to the ring Ward suffered a devastating knee injury keeping him and Sapphire from showing the remainder of the winter. Now the decision has been made to retire Sapphire from further competition, and begin her new career as a broodmare.
Lee McKeever, Manager at McLain Ward Inc., had this to say about Sapphire’s retirement: “What makes this go over a little easier is seeing all of the fans and the nice things people have to say about her. I feel so lucky to be around such a special horse and am amazed by how much she gave us. Now she can go enjoy her retirement. It’s well deserved. Thank you, Sara, for all the joy you’ve given us.”
Mclain Ward posted this on his Facebook page:
“Now that the news has broke of Sara’s retirement I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your wonderful comments, many of which have made me teary eyed. While it is the end of her incredible career I refuse to be sad. Sara is retiring healthy, happy and at her best. I am so grateful that fate chose me as the one to be in her life, be her rider and partner as she blazed her trail into show jumping history.”
“There will be times I will certainly miss her being by side when the pressure is on but when I think of her all I have is incredible memories. As I look back all I can say is how lucky were we. It is hard to imagine let alone thank all of the people who at one point or another played a role in Sara and my success, but I will try. My dad, Francois Mathy, Erica Mckeever, Lee Mckeever, Harry Gill, Hunter Harrison, Tom Grossman, Carrie Stanton, Emma Williams, Di Puopolo, Tim Ober, James Beldon, Bill Bradlee, Gabe Cook, Mikey Boylan, Missy Clark, the Van Bunder family, and many many more.”
“It’s been a hell of a run, filled with peaks and valleys but I wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world. Thank you Sara.”
EquiFit, inc. Founder and CEO, Alexandra Cherubini said “In 2004, when EquiFit was still in its infancy, Sapphire was the first horse to wear a pair of T-Boot EXPs™ during World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. Sapphire and the Castle Hill Team became a part of the EquiFit family, and we are honored to have worked with her.”
Sapphire found her way into hearts of show jumping fans around the world. We were lucky to watch her compete and thankful that McLain trusted EquiFit to protect her at home and on the world’s biggest stages. To one of the greatest equine athletes our sport will ever know: thanks for the memories, we wish you lots of happiness and carrots and look forward to seeing the legacy continue in future generations.
For more information visit http://www.equifit.net
This is a great fan video from Youtube: