Ocala, Fla. – Mar. 13, 2018 – Feature classes during Week VIII of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit included several repeat winners and introduced some new riders to the victory circle as well. With two more weeks to finish the season, competition is heating up for riders qualifying for the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix and riders vying for the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Champion and Tack Shack of Ocala Second-Half Circuit Champion award.
Well-known Grand Prix rider Aaron Vale started off Week VIII with a bang, winning the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome for the second week in a row, aboard Exclusive with a jump-off time of 28.572 seconds. Vale also took the fourth place title aboard Stakko with a second round time of 30.720 seconds. Second place was earned by Brian Feigus and Carla with a jump-off time of 28.959 seconds while Dorothy Douglas took the third place spot aboard Chacco Lait with a jump-off time of 29.755 seconds. Rounding out the top five was Bryn Sadler aboard Bull Run’s Living with a jump-off time of 30.956 seconds.
On Thursday, the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix took place once again. For the second week in a row, Venezuelan rider Emanuel Andrade took the first place award aboard U with a jump-off time of 37.268 seconds. He also took both the second and fourth place awards aboard Anastasia Du Park and Gran Mamut and jump-off times of 37.459 and 37.741 seconds, respectively. Lisa Goldman earned both the third and fifth place awards aboard Hindsight and Sovereign with jump-off times of 37.636 and 38.628 seconds.
Friday brought even more success to Andrade, as he was both first and second place in the $10,000 Open Prix aboard Boy IV and Jenni’s Chance with times of 27.748 and 29.601 seconds, respectively. German rider Andre Thieme took the third place spot aboard Forami with a jump-off time of 30.691 seconds. Goldman continued to be successful, placing fourth aboard Centurion B and a jump-off time of 30.881 seconds. Fifth place was earned by Mark Jungherr and Conte Couleur with a jump-off time of 32.461 seconds.
The $10,000 1.35m Classic took place on Saturday, with a very competitive round-two. Andrade continued his winning streak, taking first, third, and fifth places aboard Quilina VD Laarseheide Z, Cortina 168, and Tupac Van de Vrombautshoeve Z with times of 36.715, 37.026 and 37.314 seconds respectively. Goldman and Centurion B were the second place finishers with a jump-off time of 36.908 while Dorothy Douglas came in fourth place aboard MTM Questro with a jump-off time of 37.280 seconds.
Sunday afternoon, international riders gathered in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Post Time Farm for the $50,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix. The crowd gathered for what would end up being one of the most exciting Grand Prix so far this winter. Riders signified that they would donate 10% of their prize money to Marion County Therapeutic Riding Association, by riding with a blue ribbon tied around their arm, making their rides even more special. It was a tricky round one, with eleven riders returning for the jump-off.
Taking the win, after an incredible jump-off ride, was Canadian rider Francois Lamontagne aboard his mare Chanel du Calvaire finishing in 36.983 seconds. Francois skillfully rode through the course, leaving out two strides before the final fence, securing the fastest fault-free time. Second place was earned by Kirk Webby and Brando Du Rouet with a time of 37.078 seconds. Following him, Vale was the third place rider with a time of 37.989 seconds aboard Major. Candice King and Calisto 26 took the fourth place spot with a jump-off time of 38.742 seconds. Andre Thieme rounded out the top five aboard Cupertino, finishing in 39.101 seconds.
Week VIII was World Championship Hunter Rider week where riders had the opportunity to show in the Ocala Horse Properties. On Saturday, the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, the Devoucoux Hunter Prix, and the USHJA Pony Hunter Derby took place. In the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, Jacquelyn Maggiore and Contina were awarded first place with a two-round total of 169. Only half of a point behind her, in second place was Emma Nichols and Most of All with a two-round total of 168.5. Karen Kogon and Gallant Maji T came in third place with a two-round total of 168 while fourth place was awarded to Lila Ouellette and King of Hearts with a two-round total of 163. Allison Palmisciano came in fifth place aboard Quibajo and a two-round total of 161.
Morgan Ward and Huehuetenango were the winners of the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix with a two-round total of 174. Close behind her, second place was awarded to Caroline Willard and Baron De Ley with a two-round total of 169.5. Molly McAdow came in third place aboard Caston with a two-round total of 165 while fourth place was Abigail Lefkowitz and Continental with a two-round total of 163.5. Rounding out the top five was Harold Chopping and Gold Rush with a two-round total of 163.
In the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby, Emilia Richard and Fairytales came out on top with a two-round total of 162. Second place was awarded to Sophia Ayers and Prima Ballerina with a two-round total of 156.5. Anneliese De Rosaire and Gap Springs Heart’s Desire came in third with a two-round total of 156. In fourth place was Mae Mannis and Days Of Our Lives with a two-round total of 152. Fifth was awarded to Katherine Ellis and Blue Moon with a two-round total of 151.