Interview and Photos by TPH Intern Dominique Gonzales
Aaron Vale—the name heard at the top of the leaderboard constantly. April 30 was no exception, at the Fox Lea Farm Spring Series (Fla.), he took home the win in the $25,000 Grand Prix Concours I on Acolina R. From what owner Sarah Turner said about her mare, his win wasn’t the easiest task, as Acolina R takes some “putting together.”
“From the beginning, she always had all the pieces, she’s just a bit of a puzzle to put together and Aaron is really good with puzzles!”
Vale also won the $2,500 Future’s Classic along and placed second in both the $5,000 Welcome Stake and the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. In each class, he took a different horse to the top. We chatted with him about his grand prix win, and what’s up next.
You won the $25,000 Grand Prix last night, how did it go and how was the course riding?
“Well, I thought it was a wonderful course. Doug did a really nice job, eight clears. It’s hard to jump clear here in Venice, so eight clears was quite a lot for a Venice Grand Prix. For some reason it’s just really hard to jump clear here. In the new ring, the jumps and the whole thing dresses up real well. Maybe it was a little more impressive for the horses. In the evening there is more atmosphere than midday. The horses in general jumped pretty well last night and it was a really nice course.”
Can you talk about each of your rides?
“My first horse, Carlo, had one pole down, we actually had a really nice round. We kind of just ticked fence 9 there by the in-gate with his hind legs. That was kind of disappointing because he was second in the Welcome and he jumped really well both classes. So it was a little disappointing not to get into the jump off with that round. That’s show jumping though. My stallion, Spirit, had a beautiful first round. He came back from an injury this year. He’s had some good classes, but yesterday was not just leaving the jumps up it was the quality of the round. It was very smooth and he jumped very well. I was very happy with that. Then, Acolina: the eventual winner. She’s a bit of a difficult ride, a very hot headed mare. She had a good round, maybe had a few touches and got a little lucky. But you know, it’s better to be lucky than unlucky. In the jump off she did really well, she ended up being excellent.”
What are your upcoming shows this summer?
“We’re going to go to Kentucky Spring and maybe back to Venice. Upperville, Virginia, Atlanta, and I think after that we’re going to to to Michigan for three weeks. Those are the most solid commitments we have so far. That takes us through the better part of July. Then we’ll have to come up with a few August endeavors before the fall season starts.”
Do you have any up and coming Grand Prix horses that you think are really special?
“Well, Spirit, my stallion, is a re-up and coming. He had a year and a half off from injuries. He’s ready to jump Grand Prixs but I think he had a pretty good circuit in Florida. The way he went here is a really building block if I can continue having him the way he went. Hopefully we can have a really good summer. I don’t have anything really young, they’re all jumping Grand Prixs and have won some. Hopefully they can maintain their past performances and give us some more wins.”