McLain Ward’s great showjumping mare Sapphire died on Sunday, after suffering complications relating to colic. She was 19.
» The above video is a tribute by the US Equestrian Federation on Sapphire’s retirement
The 1995 Belgian Warmblood mare was a stalwart of US jumping teams for years, helping the United States to capture Team Gold at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and Team Silver at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games.
She was retired from competition in 2012.
“Sapphire epitomized a great mare, and if you have a great mare; you have a great horse,” remembered horseman and former US Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe George Morris.
“She was the anchor of so many US 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.”
In addition to great team successes, Ward and “Sara” earned top honors in many of the world’s most prestigious competitions and Grands Prix, including a second-place finish at the 2009 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas. The duo twice claimed victory in 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). Sapphire’s extensive resume also includes wins at 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.
“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,” Ward said. “You always will be my champion in every way. Godspeed, good friend.”
Sapphire had several owners throughout her career, including Tom Grossman, Blue Chip Bloodstock, McLain Ward, Double H Farm, Missy Clark and Harry Gill. She was by Darco and out of the Hedjaz (selle français) mare Idjaz C.
There are two Sapphire clones, Kara BC and Kidjaz BC, who turn four this year. Kidjaz has already produced a foal by Capone by embryo transfer. Surrogate mares also produced a filly by Heartbreaker, and colt by Presley Boy in June, 2013.