U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward opened week three at the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a win riding Catoki in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI3* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, on Wednesday, January 22.

WEF continues through March 29, 2020 with 12 consecutive weeks of world-class competition and $13 million dollars on offer. The third week of competition at WEF is sponsored by Adequan® and recognized as a CSI3* by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). The week’s featured event is the $137,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI3* during “Saturday Night Lights” on January 25, at 7 p.m. in the International Arena.

With a second and a half to spare, Ward and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Catoki x Cartello B) bested a field of 48 over Kelvin Bywater’s (GBR) two-phase course. Their time was enough to win over runner-up Darragh Kenny (IRL) aboard Billy Dorito, owned by Vlock Show Stables LLC, who posted a time of 31.22 seconds.

Ward picked up Wednesday’s top placing while introducing Catoki, a new mount in his string, to FEI competition in North America. The mount was previously campaigned in Poland before carrying U.S. rider Brian Feigus to top national-level placings over the past two years.

“I have known the horse and have seen it a few times and always liked it; Seth Vallhonrat brought it to my attention again, and we ended up purchasing,” said Ward, who bought Catoki in November with Marilla van Beuren and Bob Russell. “We have high hopes for him!”

Standing at only 15.1 hands high, according to Ward, Catoki is small but mighty. “He’s barely a horse. He’s almost a pony, but fast as lightning and very careful. I think he can be like another [HH] Carlos.”

With high praise for Catoki, Ward’s plan is to get to know the gelding this season, saying, “We will keep trying to figure him out in Florid and step him up to a few bigger classes. We will see where we get.”

Of riding a smaller mount, Ward joked, “Mentally, when I get on him, I have to believe he can actually jump the fence. But honestly, he’s a bold horse that doesn’t have a practically short stride. I just have to keep him together, and he’s always right there.”

Rounding out the podium finishes, Catherine Tyree (USA) finished third riding BEC Lorenzo in 31.81 seconds for owner Mary Tyree. Jessica Springsteen took fourth on Stone Hill Farm’s Tiger Lily in 32.54 seconds, while Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza capped the top five riding Dublin, owned by Windsor Farms.

Also winning in the International Arena at WEF on Wednesday, Jessica Mendoza (GBR) topped the $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m CSI3* riding Stella Levista, owned by Caroline Mawhinney, and Flore Giraud (FRA) claimed the $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m riding Voyou du Boboisfor owner Delphine Giraud, to close out the day.

Competition at the 2020 WEF continues on Thursday with the $37,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 in the International Arena. For full results, visit www.PBIEC.com.

Final Results: $37,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI3*

1. CATOKI: 2009 Holsteiner gelding by Catoki x Cartello B

MCLAIN WARD (USA), Marilla van Beuren, Bob Russell & McLain Ward: 0/0/29.88

2. BILLY DORITO: 2010 Anglo European Studbook gelding by Billy Mexico x Vechta

DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Vlock Show Stables LLC: 0/0/31.22

3. BEC LORENZO: 2010 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Livello x Guidam

CATHERINE TYREE (USA), Mary Tyree: 0/0/31.81

4. TIGER LILY: 2007 Oldenburg mare by Balou du Rouet x Domino

JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/0/32.54

5. DUBLIN: 2007 Deusches Reitpferd gelding by Cobra x Calido

JESSICA MENDOZA (GBR), Windsor Farms: 0/0/33.03