The WEC Grand Arena in Ocala, FL hosted thrilling equestrian sport for the $75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix. A familiar face in the winner’s circle, Aaron Vale of Williston, FL, once again led the grand prix victory gallop with Major, owned by Sleepy P Ranch LLC.
The $75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix hosted 52 entries under the lights in the WEC Grand Arena. 2016 Olympic Games course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil designed a technical track that included a triple bar to a narrow triple combination, as well as a double oxer combination which challenged riders. Sixteen entries advanced to the jump-off but it was Vale and Major who found the key to victory.
Vale produced a clean first round on all four horses that he entered in the class, qualifying all of his mounts for the jump-off. Three of Vale’s horses were awarded in the top 10 honors, with Major taking the victory.
Vale brought his A-game once again, piloting the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding through a clear first round and stopping the clock at 37.527 seconds as the fastest time in the jump-off. He described, “I took eight strides back to the Tribute jump, but it was wide, so it was a very fast eight. On my first horse I got eight and thought, darn, I could have done seven but with Major, the stride out on the first line carried me wide which gave me a ton of momentum so even though I didn’t leave out, it was still really fast.”
Vale and Major (Carmargue x Pinot) won two grand prix classes during the winter circuit at World Equestrian Center – Ocala.
“Major is an experienced horse,” said Vale. “I have to be careful with him in certain places but once in a while the class set up doesn’t allow you to be careful. Luckily, he is a natural bloody horse, so it was enough to get the job done.
“He was second twice, then third, fourth, and sixth place the last week,” said Vale, who won five of the 12 grand prix classes offered during the Winter Spectacular. “He showed here about seven times and was in the money every time.”
Just behind Vale and Major were Rowan Willis of Ocala, FL, and his own Ashton Dakota (Lupicor H x Pomina M). Willis and the 13-year-old SHBGB gelding were clear in the jump-off and just off the winning mark in 38.176 seconds to earn the second-place finish.
Vale rounded out the top three on his other mount, Prescott, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Lordanos owned by Thinks Like a Horse. Vale and Prescott delivered a fast and flawless first round stopping the clock at 78.078 seconds, earning Vale his fourth spot in the jump-off. The pair navigated a fast and clear jump-off in 38.235 seconds, just 0.059 seconds behind Willis and Ashton Dakota.
“This is his first year in the bigger classes,” said Vale of his young horse. “I went quick with him, but I knew that I already had the class win and there are still many more weeks of shows left. I don’t want to burn all the rubber off the tires.”
An additional $5,000 was awarded to the fastest four-faulter of the $75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix. It was Tracey Fenney of Flower Mound, TX, and MTM Dolce Vita, who received a very fast first-round time of 73.219 seconds, 1.475 seconds faster than the second fastest four-faulter in the first round, Johan Kachelhoffer of Wellington, FL, and Cosmona.
$75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix Results:
1. Major, Aaron Vale (USA), Don Stewart Sleepy P Ranch LLC: 0 | 0 | 37.527
2. Ashton Dakota, Rowan Willis (AUS), Rowan Willis: 0 | 0 | 38.176
3. Prescott, Aaron Vale (USA), Thinks Like a Horse: 0 | 0 | 38.235
4. ABC Quantum Cruise, Diego Billbao (ESP), Wyndmont Inc.: 0 | 0 | 39.573
5. Diamant’s Legacy, Jordan Petersen (USA), Derek Petersen: 0 | 0 | 39.741
6. MTM Reve Du Paradis, Tracy Fenney (USA), MTM Farm: 0 | 0 | 40.263
7. Gatsby, Sharn Wordley (NZL), Sharn Wordley: 0 | 0 | 40.468
8.Koblenz Van De Vinusakker, Samuel Prot (CHI), Samuel Prot: 0 | 0 | 40.658
9. Chaccman, Aaron Vale (USA), Thinks Like a Horse: 0 | 0 | 40.883
10. Cinderella Z, Shawn Casady (USA), Caroline’s Kids LLC: 0 | 0 | 42.132