Among the feature classes at the Ocala Winter Finals at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, FL was the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby in the Grand Prix Ring. The sun was hitting just right as 41 riders competed, all in hopes for a place on the podium. After the first round, the top twelve riders returned in reverse order for the Handy Hunter round.
Top honors were awarded to Dorothy Douglas for her ride aboard MTM Exceptional, owned by Abigail Davenport. “Abigail [Davenport] shows him in the Amateurs and when she isn’t here showing, I get to steal him from her,” said Douglas. “I think I’ve been riding him for at least three years now. It’s a horse that is kind of her ‘forever’ horse and one of the only ones at MTM that really isn’t for sale.”
Douglas scored a 90, plus challenged all four high options for a score of 94 in the Hunter Classic round. With the highest score in the Classic round, Douglas was last to return in the Handy Hunter round and did not disappoint. The panel of judges awarded Douglas a base score of 92, and she once again took all four high options marking a 96 total and cumulative score of 190.
“It’s really cool over the years to have a solid horse like him that you can completely rely on and practice cool handy turns, win every class, and score in the 90’s,” Douglas said. “It was fun showing the hunters in the Grand Prix Ring. It kind of gives them a little bit of a change of scenery. I think especially, being on a horse that has shown at a lot of different venues it’s cool to be in a bigger space so that you can let them have a bit of a bigger canter.”
Along with the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, the HITS Ocala Winter Finals was host to the final $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby of the Circuit and the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix which is held every week. While HITS Ocala VIII was World Champion Hunter Rider Week, every week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit offers featured Hunter Competition. The season caps off with a second $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during HITS Ocala X.
“I’ll be showing MTM Lolah lol in the International Derby Week X and hope to have one or two in the $200,000 Grand Prix next week. We hope to finish off the circuit just like we started,” Douglas exclaimed. My favorite part of HITS Ocala is probably the convenience of everything – whether it be where our stalls are and where the rings are. It just really feels a little bit like home and we love it here!”
Along with securing first in the USHJA National Hunter Derby, Douglas claimed a top ribbon in Friday’s featured jumper competition. Douglas held the only double clear in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix aboard MTM Chelsea 98 in 42.073. While she’s no stranger to the Winner’s Circle, this was Douglas’ first Grand Prix win at HITS Ocala this season. “Everything seemed to work out on Friday,” said Douglas about her jump-off. “I might have been a little bit conservative speed-wise but was the only one to jump double clear.”
“We’ve had her [MTM CHELSEA 98] for about two years now and to me, she’s one of those horses that you can go and try to win every class,” said Douglas. “She’s been stepping up and keeps surprising us that she’s jumped as big as she has. She won a class at HITS Chicago this past summer and has had good ribbons all circuit so she definitely deserved the win on Friday. She’s been so consistent and awesome!”