It wasn't third time's a charm. Nor was it fourth, or fifth. It took McLain Ward 17 tries, but he finally did it: he won the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.
Riding HH Azur, the two completed all four rounds without a fault to become the jumping champion. Switzerland's Romain Duguet aboard TwentyTwo des Biches finished second with four faults, and Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann with Mary Lou placed third with eight faults. Laura Kraut aboard Zeremonie finished 15th with 23 faults, and Charlie Jacobs on Cassinja S finished 16th with 24 faults.
Ward's previous best finish at the final was second place in 2009, riding Sapphire. He incurred two faults while Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly completed four faultless rounds. Eight years later, it was Ward's turn for perfection.
Despite taking 17 years for his first World Cup Jumping Final win, Ward is no stranger to victory. A four-time Olympian, he's a two-time Olympic gold medalist. He took team gold in 2004 and 2008, and team silver in Rio in 2016. He also has two world championship medals, a team silver in 2006 and team bronze in 2014, and three Pan American Games medals, individual gold and team bronze in 2015 and team gold in 2011.
This February, he defended his title in the Grand Prix CSI5* Wellington, breaking a 12-way tie in the jump-off, and helped the U.S. earn the silver medal at the FEI Nations Cup CSIO4* Ocala.