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McLain Ward And Cinderella Win NAL Acorn Hill Speed Challenge
Samantha Conroy And Southern Lights Win Second Year Green Working Hunter Championship

WELLINGTON, FL - January 30, 2004 - Last to go proved to be best as McLain Ward aboard Cinderella, the final duo in a field of 80 starters, won the $5,000 North American League Acorn Hill Farm Speed Challenge at the Winter Equestrian Festival today. The 1.40-meter course was a Time First Round, Table II, Sec. 1 class held in the Internationale Arena of the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club show grounds. Four faults were added to the rider's time for each knockdown over the 13-effort track, giving victory to the duo with the fastest clean trip. The class is part of the North American League Open Speed Series, and awards points toward the NAL year-end final. The 2004 WEF runs from January 28 through March 21 in Wellington, and March 24 through April 3 in Tampa, Florida.

"This is a young mare, Cinderella, also owned by Double H Farm," said Ward, who has claimed a victory in the Internationale Arena each day of the 2004 WEF aboard a Double H Farm horse. "Actually, this is her first day in the big ring. We showed her two days in the DeNemethy, she had a ribbon one day, jumped well. She was a little spooky in the beginning of the course being a little green, baby-ish, but as she went, she warmed up a little bit and she went very well."

Prior to Ward's ride, Norman Dello Joio riding Leonardo for owner Anthony Weight had the fastest clean, clocking in at 64.697. Emily Williams aboard her own Abracadabra was just splits behind him, crossing the timers in 64.876 seconds. Ward and Cinderella edged them out of the top slots with their time of 63.864. Time Allowed was 87 seconds.

Ward's ride was not only fast, but also lucky - the rails rocked on 6A and 6B, but didn't leave the cups. "It's very spooky there, you've got the waves underneath A and the water just to your right, and she really kind of lost her concentration," explained Ward. "She hit A hard behind. She actually jumped out really well. So we got away with a lucky rub and I'll take a little luck any day."

Ward, 28, of Brewster, NY, also rode Salsa earlier in the class with an even faster time, 62.122, but had 8 faults. He said that ride gave him an idea of what the winning pace should be. "To be honest, I didn't think I was fast enough," Ward said of his ride aboard Cinderella. "My horse was playing from one to two to three, where she lost some time, and when she came to 6AB, she was playing there as well, so she ended up being just quick enough."

Cinderella is a nine-year-old Holsteiner, German-bred mare that Ward purchased in July 2003, along with his winner of yesterday's $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup, Goldika 559.

In the Grand Hunter Field yesterday, January 29, Samantha Darling Conroy, 26, of Colts Neck, New Jersey, and Wellington, Florida, rode Southern Lights for owner Dr. Sheila Buchbinder to the Second Year Green Working Hunter Championship. Over two days of competition in five classes, the duo placed seventh in the Under Saddle class, earned second and third place ribbons in over-fences classes on Wednesday, and then won both over-fences classes on Thursday, scoring 90 and 91. "His first round was great," said Mrs. Conroy. "He was great even the first day, but he really tried as hard as he possibly could in that last class and I felt it was definitely our smoothest class. All the jumps came up all the same and he jumped beautifully. He just puts so much effort into it. He's such a winner."

Mrs. Conroy, who trains with her husband Leo Conroy, has been riding the seven-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding by South Pacific for two years. Southern Lights, whose barn name is 'Fred', arrived at Leo Conroy Stables from Karen Healey's barn in California in the summer of 2002 as a sale horse. "We loved him so much we wanted to keep him in the barn and that's when Sheila decided to buy him," explained Mrs. Conroy. "I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to ride this horse. He's certainly the nicest horse that I've ever shown. Leo rides him in the mornings before I show him. He has him perfectly prepared. I know when I walk in the ring, as long as I do my job, most of the time it goes well because the horse is always perfectly ready, perfectly trained." Ms. Conroy also credited Mario Marquez who has been the horse's groom for two years. "He's the only person that handles the horse. He really does a wonderful job so it's definitely a super team effort - a very supportive owner, the best trainer."

For full results of today's classes, visit

Show days for the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival are Wednesday through Sunday. Gates open at 8:00 am. Ticket Prices: Wednesdays are free to everyone; Children 12 and under are admitted free every day; Young Adults 13 to 18 and Seniors are $5 on Thursday through Sunday; Adults are $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. The Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club is located on Pierson Road off South Shore Boulevard. For additional information, visit or call 561-793-5867.

January 28 - February 1 Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic CSI***
February 4 - 8 Bayer/USET Gold Coast Jumper Classic CSI***
February 5 - 8 Wellington Dressage (Qualifier for Olympic Selection Trials)
February 11 - 15 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale CSI***
February 18 - 22 Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular CSI-W/Y CSI-Ch
February 19 - 22 Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic
February 25 - 29 PDP Capital Wellington Masters CSI***
March 3 - 7 CN Wellington Open CSI-W
March 10 - 14 CSIO United States Cosequin Finale CSIO***
March 18 - 21 Zada Enterprises WEF Dressage Classic CDI***/Y
(Qualifier for Olympic Selection Trials)
March 24 - 28 Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
March 30 - April 3 Tournament of Champions CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
April 3 Budweiser American Invitational (Raymond James Stadium)

February 1 $35,000 Farr XTN Grand Prix of Palm Beach, presented by Western Hay, CSI**
February 8 $50,000 Bayer/USET Wellington Cup, CSI***
February 15 $50,000 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale Cup, CSI***
February 22 $60,000 Idle Dice Classic, presented by Palm Beach Post, CSI-W
February 29 $75,000 PDP Capital Masters Cup, CSI***
March 7 $75,000 CN Wellington Open presented by Estates of Wellington Green, CDI-W
March 12 $50,000 Samsung Nations' Cup, presented by CN, CSIO****
March 14 $100,000 Cosequin U.S. Open Jumper Championship, CSIO****
March 28 $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, presented by Kilkenny/ICH, CSI-W
April 3 $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, presented by The Tampa Tribune


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