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McLain Ward says goodbye to Sapphire

McLain Ward and Sappire championed the world.
McLain Ward and Sappire championed the world.
Diana De Rosa Photo

Sapphire 1995-2014

This mare was a true champion.
Diana De Rosa Photo

I was saddened to hear that Sapphire lost her fight to colic on June 22. Such a champion deserved to serve her last days on earth relaxing under a tree in an open pasture. She did so much for her rider McLain Ward and our country having been to two Olympic Games and so much more.

This 1995 Belgian Warmblood mare helped lead the US team to gold medals at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and Team Silver at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games.

In the release sent out by the United States Equestrian Federation horseman and former U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe George Morris was quoted as saying, “Sapphire epitomized a great mare, and if you have a great mare, you have a great horse ... She was the anchor of so many U.S. teams; she had the scope, she was careful – I can’t say enough good things about her. She was one of the greatest horses of the century.”

Nicknamed Sara this pair earned numerous awards including placing 2nd at the 2009 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas. They were victorious twice at the FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix (2009, 2010), the Grand Prix of Devon (2007, 2009), the Hampton Classic Grand Prix (2009, 2010), and the President’s Cup at the Washington International Horse Show (2008, 2010) and they also won the 2008 Budweiser Invitational, 2009 $1 Million CN International at Spruce Meadows, 2010 La Baule Grand Prix, 2010 Rome Grand Prix, and 2010 Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. Few horses have achieved so much.

In that same press release McLain Ward is quoted as saying, “Our entire Castle Hill family and every person she has touched has lost a great friend. Thank you Sara not just for all the dreams you made come true but simply for being who you were ... You always will be my champion in every way. Godspeed, good friend.”

My memories of watching this true champion in action are many and include both their gold medal finishes in the Olympics, their victories at the Hampton Classic, the Pfizer Million and in both WIHS President's Cups. You always knew you could count on this team. Sapphire always gave McLain a solid ride and rarely did she ever drop a rail.

I am one of the many who mourn her loss but have brought you 21 pictures to remember her by. This brings back very sad memories for me because years ago I had a horse named Sapphire who also died of complications from colic surgery, but I still remember him and cherish the time we had together. Life is strange!