Ten weeks of USEF-Rated Hunter/Jumper competition through March 28 kicked off at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, FL, with the HITS Ocala January Classic.
It was déjà vu for Hunter Holloway as she clinched the top honors in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, kicking off the 2021 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit on a high note. Holloway, the youngest rider in the Grand Prix, won this same class last year with her mother’s Grand Prix Horse, LUCKY STRIKE. As Hunter reminisced, she shared how exciting it was to win the first Grand Prix of the season aboard PEPITA CON SPITA, owned by Hays Investment Corp.
“This mare [Pepita] is awesome! She was imported about a year and a half ago by Hays Investment Corp. This is so exciting because last year we were just getting experience on her and getting miles, but now this year she’s really ready to come in and win it so you get to go for it,” said Holloway.
Holloway showed ‘Pepita’ at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit last year and explained that she was a bit more conservative to be sure to keep her confident and brave. “She’s such a careful horse and a quick horse so you really want to take your time with those types,” Holloway explained.
Seven jumped clean in the first round with Holloway being the first to return – generally, a tough spot to be on a young horse with many Grand Prix veterans to follow. Hunter set the pace, marking a quick time of 30.301 and holding on to the first position through the remaining jump-off rounds. “For me, my plan never really changes too much, especially with a horse like her and at this point in her career where she is so quick and careful,” Holloway said as she recapped her jump-off.
“Every time you go in that position, you’re lucky because you can just go for it. It’s not like she’s a little young, like last year, where we were taking our time. This year it didn’t matter if we went first, or last or in the middle because we were going to go for it either way.” The future is bright for the young mare and Holloway was excited to share that they have also just imported her [Pepita’s] daughter and is really looking forward to seeing her come along.
Watch for Holloway in upcoming competition at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. “I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Circuit!” Holloway added. “We’re like one big family and that’s probably my favorite part about showing here.”
Taking home the first win in featured jumper competition at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit was Daniel Geitner and FAZOUS, for Oak Ledge Farm, in the $2,500 Open Welcome. The pair jumped double clear in a time of 37.060 to secure the blue ribbon.
2nd Place: Hayley Waters & VITEL SOURDIN [38.398]
3rd Place: Cassandra Kahle & HAJIME [4-Faults, 40.099]
Competition in the Grand Prix Stadium continued on Thursday with the $5,000 HITS Open Prix, where Tracy Magness piloted INTENZ VAN HD for Mr. & Mrs. John Bartko to claim the top placing. Magness was the only rider to jump double clear with a time of 45.310.
2nd Place: Waters & JUST LUCK [4-Faults, 42.476]
3rd Place: David O’Brien & NIGHTSHADE SCF [4-Faults, 43.199]
It’s no secret that Canadian, Francois Lamontagne and his own CHANEL DU CALVAIRE are a team to watch out for. Friday afternoon, this duo took home top honors in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix with the only double clear ride in 49.961.
2nd Place: Aaron Vale & PRESCOTT [4-Faults, 46.725]
3rd Place: Kahle & PYRENES DE LOUZES [4-Faults, 48.997]
Joining the Winner’s Circle to accept first place in the $5,000 Jumper Classic on Saturday was Jenni McAllister riding for Viksberg Sateri AB. McAllister crossed the timers aboard ESCADA VS in a time of 44.936 to secure the win.
2nd Place: David Jennings & CENTDATUS PS [4-Faults, 45.071]
3rd Place: Magness & CHOPIN DU CHATEAU HOLLOGNE [4-Faults, 46.351]
The 40th Anniversary of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit continues with the Ocala January Festival, a USEF-Rated National/5* competition running January 26-31.
All photos by ESI Photography