Father Watches Devon Victory From Afar Barney Ward Is Banned From The Horse-show Business. Son Mclain Won The Grand Prix.

Posted: June 05, 1999

McLain Ward continued his amazing two-year streak when he won the $50,000 Devon Grand Prix on Thursday, his sixth Grand Prix victory of the year and his 16th during the last two seasons.

McLain is following in the footsteps of his father, Barney Ward, a Grand Prix champion and a well-known horseman on the Devon grounds. But at moments of triumph such as the Devon Grand Prix, father and son are forced to savor victory apart.

Barney Ward accepted a plea bargain on charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice for his part in a scheme to kill show horses for insurance money.

Although he served time in prison, Ward continues to pay for his mistake.

The American Horse Shows Association has banned the 58-year-old Ward, who spent 2 1/2 years in prison, for 15 years, forbidding him to do anything connected with the horse-show business.

And that includes buying a ticket and watching his son McLain compete in events such as the Devon Horse Show.

The Wards are fighting that ruling, but until a court rules in their favor, the best that McLain's father can do is watch his son, last year's American Grandprix Association rider of the year, on television or videotape.

``That's the hardest thing to swallow,'' Ward said. ``Yes, you can see it on TV, but you don't get the same emotional feeling. In the last two years, we've won competitions that you might never win again in your life. He hasn't been able to see that.''

McLain Ward, 23, is supportive of his father, who was released from prison in November.

``My father, anybody would like to have him in his corner. There's not a better horseman in the world,'' said the younger Ward. ``I've stood behind my father, and he's stood behind me. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am if it wasn't for him.''

McLain Ward says the controversy has not made his road more difficult; rather, it has provided more motivation.

``My father has been an inspiration,'' he said. ``People said how our operation wouldn't work after this. It not only works, it's thriving.''

After Devon, Ward plans to tour Europe as part of the United States Equestrian Team.

In the $2,500 Amateur Owner Jumper, Hit and Hurry yesterday at Devon, Aftershook gathered 24 points and took the blue ribbon with Amy Lefferdink in the irons. Earlier in the day, Tashiling, with D. D. Matz aboard, won the $2,500 Amateur Owner Jumper Class.

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