January 18, 2024 – Ocala, FL – The first of many grand prix events throughout the 2024 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit debuted today at the HITS Post Time Farm with a win from Ocala’s own Aaron Vale. Premiering with its Ocala January Classic, the 10-week series hosts a variety of top-level hunter, jumper, and equitation competition including the exciting new STX Open Speed series, multiple national hunter derbies, two international hunter derbies, and much more.
Thursday’s feature event, the $25,000 Alliant Private Client Grand Prix, saw a starting field of 22 horse-and-rider combinations set to contest Peter Grant’s (USA) first round track. At the finale of round one, four horses would advance to the jump off featuring Kristen Vanderveen (USA), Sharn Wordley (NZL), and both of Vale’s contenders. Wordley elected to save his mount, Brin D’or de Haute Melen Z, for another day and immediately took the fourth place finish. With a downed rail for Thinkslikeahorse and Allison Register’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Centadel x Continue), Obi Wan, the short course quickly became a head-to-head duel between Vale and Vanderveen. Ultimately Vale posted a clear effort roughly a second faster than Vanderveen’s time with Bull Run Jumpers Inc’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Uriko x Colman), Bull Run’s Jireh, for the win.
“We have a wedding to go to this weekend, so this was my only performance for this week,” Vale laughed. “At least we made it worth our while.
“This horse has been showing already this winter,” Vale continued of Sigma Stables LLC’s 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Ugobak des Baleines x Creve Coeur), Constantin De Hus. “Today’s course definitely had some technicality in the lines and the time was tight. I was also quite thrilled with my other horse who came in third; he is a nervous horse so this was a really smooth round for him.”
Prior to Thursday’s grand prix event, the $2,500 Alorian Open Welcome kicked off special jumper competition with a win from team USA rider Devin Ryan and his beloved mount, Eddie Blue.
Competition at the Ocala January Classic will resume Friday, January 19, 2024 with a full schedule of competition across the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines. For a full list of results, please visit www.showmanagementsystem.com.