Edited Press Release
Forty athletes closed week VI of the 2023 Winter Spectacular Show Series in the $100,000 Budweiser Grand Prix. It was Aaron Vale (USA) who saved the best for last and found a blistering fast time aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s Elusive (Rodrigoo x Alouette) to go two-for-two in the WEC Stadium. Tracy Fenney (USA) and MTM Apple finished second, with Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Valentine Carr third.
FEI Level III course designer Joey Rycroft (CAN) set the imposing tracks for the class, where eight managed to keep all the rails up and stay under the time allowed to qualify for the jump-off.
“The course was plenty big. The time allowed was shorter than it has been, so you had to press a bit. When you have to press for time, it makes the tricky elements that much harder. If they give you all day to jump around, everyone could go clear, but when you add pressure, that’s when the rails start to come down. Eight is a lovely number for the jump-off and if you made it clear you’re going home with a little something,” said Vale.
Aaron Vale was the last competitor to return for the jump-off. Earlier in the week, Vale secured first and second place in the $24,000 C. Jarvis Insurance Welcome Prix, and he hoped to add to that.
“It’s always an advantage to go last in the jump-off. You get to see what’s on the table. With Peter Petschenig having two, I was able to watch three or four from the stands to get an idea of the track. I got on and watched [Tracy Fenney and MTM Apple] from the ingate. She was pretty quick, but this course seemed to be set up for my horse,” Vale explained.
At the sound of the tone, Vale and Elusive started on a strong gallop to fence one. “I thought I might do the ten from one to two, because my horse is a bit smaller, and Tracy Fenney and a few others got the nine, but we ended up finding the nine on a nice gallop,” Vale detailed. “I felt like I was pretty tight back to the skinny, then I think I was one stride more to the next, but hugged the pond as much as I could to the double combination. I was hoping to find it a bit more open, but I had to check and wait.
“He just jumped his eyeballs out through that double, then I ran up to the oxer on the rail. To the last jump I heard my fans and Mike Connors yelling from the rail to go, and I wasn’t sure if I could leave out that last stride, but I said screw it, kicked and he took off.”
The pair flew through the finish stopping the clock at 41.318 seconds to steal the victory.
“When he’s operating and you’re going against the clock, [Elusive] gets a little freaky kicking out that hind end. Even in the first round, something woke him up and he was putting that extra effort in a few places,” Vale said. “When he has that feeling, you know it’s going to be a good day.”
An additional $5,000 was awarded to the fastest four-faulter of the $100,000 Budweiser Grand Prix. Santiago Lambre (BRA) and J’Adore Van Het Klinkhof received the award with an incredibly fast time of 80.031 seconds with one down.
Richard Spooner received the $5,000 ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.
$100,000 Budweiser Grand Prix Results:
1 Elusive, Aaron Vale (USA), Thinkslikeahorse: 0 | 0 | 41.318
2 MTM Apple, Tracy Fenney (USA), MTM Farm: 0 | 0 | 42.047
3 Valentine Car, Sharn Wordley (NZL), Fernando Cardenas Jr.: 0 | 0 | 44.681
4 James Bond HX, Samantha Schaefer (USA), Bonne Chance LLC: 0 | 0 | 46.615
5 MTM Pablo, Dorothy Douglas (USA), Davenport Farms: 0 | 0 | 47.653
6 It’s The Senator 111, Peter Petschenig (AUT), Peter Petschenig: 0 | 4 | 46.987
7 Ennebel Van Het Posthuijs, Peter Petschenig (AUT), Peter Petschenig: 0 | 8 | 43.920
8 Fazous, Daniel Geitner (USA), Oak Ledge Farm: 0 | 8 | 45.522
9 J’Adore Van Het Klinkhof, Santiago Lambre (BRA), Santiago Lambre: 4 | 80.031
10 Wellington Grey Goose, Rowan Willis (AUS), Rowan Willis: 4 | 80.623
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.
Videos available at ClipMyHorse.TV