Winner’s Circle from Start to Finish: Aaron Vale Claims Another HITS Ocala Grand Prix Win


The stakes were high in Sunday’s $150,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix at HITS Post Time Farm. Nine riders jumped clean over the first round course designed by Martin Otto of Munster, Germany. Between the first round and the jump-off, as the riders made their preparations, the Marion County Therapeutic Association held a Calcutta which raised nearly $12,000 for the charity as part of their annual fundraiser.

Aaron Vale began his week by topping the $5,000 Open Welcome for the second week in a row, jumping to victory aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s M Lebron. In the Grand Prix, he ended the week just the same as he started it – in the Winner’s Circle. It took just six-hundredths of a second for Vale to recapture the lead as the last to go in the jump-off, in a time of 34.099 aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s Prescott.

“It was a brilliant design by Martin [Otto]. I know they wanted to have a few clean to do an auction and raise some money for MTRA,” said Vale, who had two horses in the jump-off. “He did a beautiful job building a nice course that was still difficult, with just enough horses in the jump off to make it a really good class.”

Photo by ESI Photography.

Vale’s first ride over the shortened course was aboard Candro van de Zuuthoeve. “The jump-off started off with a fast round and kept getting better from there. It was a really fast jump-off – for my first horse, it really suited him. When I went on him and got in front of Hunter [Holloway], I thought that might have been enough to win the class. I was wrong,” Vale laughed.

Vale’s second horse, Prescott, was the mount he won the Week III Grand Prix on. “[Prescott] is a bit younger and less experienced, but he’s a little lighter and quicker naturally – so I went in with the plan and galloped to 1, ran down to 2 and if that came up good keep going to 3,” said Vale. “I got 1, 2, 3 really fast, so at that point I knew I was right on it. I thought I was on the time or even ahead. I had a pretty good feeling that I had done enough to win it and this time I was right!”

2nd Place: Rowan Willis & BLUE MOVIE [34.163]
3rd Place: Vale & CANDRO VAN DE ZUUTHOEVE [34.312]

Click here for the full listing of results from the HITS Ocala Tournament.