Francois LaMontagne and Chanel du Calvaire Find Their Rhythm in $75,000 Ocala Marion Grand Prix 

 Saturday morning brought sunny skies to HITS Post Time Farm as exhibitors enjoyed a delicious lunch and anxiously awaited the day’s featured event. Saturdays during the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit bring out the best and brightest as top show jumpers contest for the ultimate prize in the grand prix. Sixteen pairings geared up for the $75,000 Ocala Marion County Grand Prix, but it was Canada’s Francois LaMontagne and Chanel du Calvaire that delivered the fastest performance to win the class.  

 Meghan Rowlins (CAN) built the course that would decide the fate of the event’s contenders and, with a majority of riders bringing their best efforts, saw nine clear rounds over her first track. Then it was onwards to the jump off with the likes of Tracy Fenney (USA), Aaron Vale (USA), and Devin Ryan (USA) all making their way back. LaMontagne made sure he had a good shot at the top title after qualifying both of his mounts to return for the short course, but it was his 16-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare (Lucciano) that got the job done in a tight time of 35.43 seconds. 

Francois LaMontagne and Chanel du Calvaire. Photo by ESI Photography

“She’s been going well since the beginning of the circuit this year,” LaMontagne explained. She has been feeling better and younger than ever, so she’s been going great but I just hadn’t won any grand prixs so far. Still I felt that everything was good and in the right place so it was just a matter of time and luck. All the stars were aligned today for me.

“Nine was a really good number to have so we had a really good jump off today,” he continued. “Tracy pushed me enough, but it was still beatable, and Aaron started better than I did. I think it helped to have my first one go in so I could ride it once and see how the strides worked out. I wanted to do seven strides with Chanel in the jump off, but she jumped a little sticky to the first one so I had to go for the eight and lost a little bit of time there.”

Fenney and the beloved MTM Farm’s 13-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Favorit Ask), MTM Apple, did their best to challenge but proved to be just mere milliseconds off the pace as they crossed the timers in 35.66 seconds. Off the pace by about two seconds, Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) piloted Barbara Disko’s 18-year-old Selle Francais stallion (Frontal), Sovereign, into the third and final victory gallop position with a final time of 37.76 seconds. 

Jumper competition will resume Sunday, March 3, 2024 with the $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic as well as a variety of highlighted junior and amateur classic competitions. For full results, please visit www.showmanagementsystem.com