History repeated for McLain Ward on day of inaugural Hall of Fame Gala at Winter Equestrian Festival

  • McLain Ward came fresh from victory in the international ring at the Winter Equestrian Festival, to honour the induction of his longstanding partner, Sapphire, into the showjumping Hall of Fame.

    He had just led the victory gallop after triumphing in the $216,000 CSIO4* grand prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. with his veteran partner HH Azur, owned by Double H Farm. It felt particularly fitting that back in 2008, he had won the same grand prix, in the same WEF week 8, with Sapphire.

    “She was a spectacular teammate and friend,” McLain said as he began paying homage to the mare in a speech at the inaugural Hall of Fame dinner at the Wanderers Club, Wellington.

    2020 Hall of Fame inductee, Margie Engle, livened up the already lighthearted evening with a joke, concerning a polar bear, that was much appreciated by the adult audience, before leaving her speech to be delivered on her behalf. “I can make jokes,” she said. “But I can’t talk about this stuff.” The ‘stuff’ in question, was partly portrayed in some vintage footage of Margie and others in action, projected onto the wall behind the podium.

    “I’ve admired and held in high esteem these men, women and horses my entire career and still do,” Margie’s eloquently-written speech, read on her behalf continued, “…unfortunately there isn’t enough time to thank all the individuals who have given me a leg up in this industry – it would take all night.”

    Margie Engle telling a joke at the inaugural Hall of Fame dinner

    Margie Engle livened up proceedings at the inaugural Hall of Fame dinner

    Each Hall of Fame member was presented with an iconic blue blazer, including 2021 inductee Olympic veteran Beezie Madden and renowned media executive and fundraiser Mason Phelps, Jr, together with the 2020 class of Margie and McLain’s Sapphire.

    “This is truly one of the most moving nights I have experienced in my 50 years on the showjumping circuit,” said Peter Doubleday, chairman of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. “Seeing so many of our sports’ legends together was a thrill and the inductees’ acceptance speeches were very emotional. It was a night that I know most of us will never forget.”

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