With the half ay mark just around the corner, competition is heating up at HITS Post Time Farm. The HITS Ocala Winter Classic (IV) welcomed Hunter Riders to the Grand Prix Stadium on Saturday for the first of two USHJA International Hunter Derbies this Circuit, and Ponies showed under the lights Saturday evening in the first of two USHJA Pony Hunter Derbies. Along with these featured hunter classes, prize money increased to award $150,000 in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
The stakes were high in Sunday’s Grand Prix which awarded $150,000 in prize money, and will continue to increase through the rest of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Just as in Friday’s Grand Prix, Sunday featured a track designed by Mr. Olaf Petersen of Munich, Germany that called for accuracy and carefulness. Eight riders successfully navigated the first round course with no faults. Those with faults had the most trouble through the combination on the diagonal (7A-B) to the single oxer (8) heading toward the in-gate.
Aaron Vale was the first to return in the jump-off aboard ELUSIVE for Thinkslikeahorse. Vale knows as well as anyone that being first to go in the jump-off means setting the pace, and with fast contenders behind you, you have to take risks. That’s just what Vale did in Sunday’s Grand Prix, posting the fastest time at 38.782, but an unlucky rail at the second to last fence ultimately placed them in third.
Second to return was Andre Thieme and hecrossed the timers clean in 39.193, with a time that would be quick enough for the win. Thieme moved up from his third place finish in last Sunday’s Grand Prix aboard his own CONACCO and was just one of two riders to complete the jump-off fault free.
The other fault-free ride belonged to Holloway and the up-and-coming PEPITA CON SPITA, who are proving their ability to hold their own against some of the top Grand Prix horses and riders showing at this year’s Circuit. Holloway took home second place in a time of 41.009.
Ten riders jumped clear in the first round of the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Friday. No stranger to the Winner’s Circle at HITS Post Time Farm, Hunter Holloway claimed another Grand Prix win at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Holloway showed two horses and jumped clean on both in the first round.
Holloway was second to return in the jump-off aboard EASTERN JAM and went clean in a time of 44.144. Returning near the end of the jump-off on her second mount, Holloway posted a time of 43.565 aboard Hays Investment Corp.’s, PEPITA CON SPITA for the win.
2nd Place: Daniel Geitner & CHAKALAKA [43.947]
3rd Place: Holloway & EASTERN JAM [44.144]
Picking up first place in the $10,000 HITS Open Prix and kicking off an incredible week was Dorothy Douglas and MTM FIONA 621 for Davenport Farms. The pair crossed the timers in 36.120 to secure the win in Thursday’s class.
2nd Place: Sharn Wordley & CALISTO 26 [36.800]
3rd Place: David O’Brien & ONE IN A MILLION SCF [37.028]
Douglas and MTM FIONA 621, owned by Davenport Farms, returned to the Winner’s Circle to claim another win in featured competition on Saturday morning. Douglas’s time of 34.857in the jump-off of the $15,000 HITS 1.40m Classic in the Grand Prix Ring could not be beat.
2nd Place: Chopping & QUADRANT 3 [35.669]
3rd Place: Geitner & GIGOLO [36.295]
The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit spotlights several Hunter Classes and Classics each week, including the Platinum Performance and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix which count toward the HITS Championship, USHJA National and International Hunter Derbies, and more. Riders can look forward to the Zone IV Handy Hunter Challenge (Week VI) and World Champion Hunter Rider Week (Week VIII).
The Grand Prix Stadium was transformed into a Hunter Derby Field on Saturday for the first of two $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derbies and the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Week IV was also host to the first of two $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derbies in the Main Hunter Ring.
Continuing her success into the Hunters was Douglas, who rose victorious in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Saturday. Douglas piloted MTM LOLAH LOL to the blue ribbon with exceptional scores.
In the Classic Hunter Round, Douglas was awarded matching scores of 87 from each panel, plus took all four high options for a total of 182. She followed that up in the Handy Hunter Round with an 84.5 plus 7 Handy points from Panel 1 and an 83.5 plus 6 Handy points from Panel 2 and again took all four of the high option fences to total a 189. Her overall score of 371 was good for the win and the lion’s share of prize money.
Douglas rides for MTM Farm out of Flower Mound, Texas, competing professionally in the Hunters and Jumpers and is a familiar face at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. “The jumps were amazing, but of course it helps that I was riding a very brave horse,” commented Douglas. “Just last year ‘Lolah’ was jumping the 1.40m Classics here [at HITS] with Tracy [Fenney], but now she’s an Amateur-Owner Hunter for Abigail [Davenport].” Davenport finished sixth in the $1,000 Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic with ‘Lolah’ last week! “We have always loved showing at HITS Ocala and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Circuit,” said Douglas.