Edited Press Release
It was a wire-to-wire victory for Hunter Holloway and Dana De Kerglenn during Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix at HITS Ocala. Holloway and the coming 10-year-old Selle Francais mare set an unmatched double-clear effort during the tiebreaker to eventually lead the lap of honor. Tiffany Hammack and Ghana FS Z were just half a second behind them as the last to return and claim second place, while Germany’s Andre Thieme and Magic Hoop took home the third-place honors.
“Dana has been so fun to bring along,” expressed Holloway after her win. “She’s such a game horse and always happy to come out and do her job, and really ready to attack the course each day. She is always fast and I was able to able to really go forward on her today.”
Oscar Soberon set an inviting track for the first round of the Grand Prix ring’s main event. The jump-off included a vertical-oxer double combination, a final bending line going away from the gate, and eventually yielded seven double-clear performances. Holloway and Dana De Kerglen were the pathfinders during the short course, smoothly galloping over each obstacle without a rub to set the Great American time to beat at a swift 40.763 seconds
Hammack and Ghana FS Z were the last to return, and with the advantage of seeing several other pairs ahead of them, they were able to make up time in each of the turns. Yet with a faultless time of 41.315 seconds, they were still just shy of Holloway for second place. Thieme and Magic Hoop were just before Hammack, clearing the course in 42.261 seconds, which would hold up for third place, while Holloway returned at the end of the jump-off to accept the winning title.
“Dana is a great horse owned by the Sigma Stables,” explained Holloway. “They’re fabulous owners. Luis Sabino, the head of the group, is great at picking horses. He picks horses that are careful and quick – they really have it all. Dana is a prime example of that. She’s a pretty naturally quick horse, and I just was able to keep [the jump-off] smooth, so that showed through today.
Holloway has been attending HITS Ocala for many years and is very happy with the improvements for the 2023 Winter Circuit. “It’s been fantastic,” she concluded. “I always loved HITS and now I love it even more. The Main Hunter and Grand Prix rings are top, top rings to ride in. They’re just as good as anywhere in the country, if not better. The environment for the horses is great. It’s the perfect place to come and move up a horse through the first grand prix on Friday. Then during the Sunday grand prix, you see all the big riders bringing out their top horses. It’s a very fun place to show.”