Sharn Wordley and Mick Jagger Shine in $100,000 Great American Insurance Grand Prix

Anticipation built at the HITS Post Time Farm on Saturday morning as riders, grooms, spectators, and staff prepared for the season’s premiere event. As the final grand prix of the 2024 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, the $100,000 Great American Insurance Grand Prix boasts the largest prize money of the series and hosts top riders and horses that have honed their skills throughout the ten weeks of competition. As no stranger to the venue’s Grand Prix ring in multiple roles, Sharn Wordley (NZL) found the fastest way around the short track and ultimately accepted the lionshare of the prize alongside his longtime partner, Mick Jagger. 

World-renowned course designer Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) carefully crafted a first round track that posed multiple challenges but still provided a friendly and safe route for the 27 contenders. As the skies parted way to sunshine and the finishing touches were put on, the athlete’s proved they came with their A-game for the day. At the first round’s completion, 13 entries had mastered the challenge laid out in front of them to advance to the short course, but it was within the jump off that the real questions would be asked. After an incredible performance by Dominique Damico (USA) and Cava, the pressure was on, but after performing at the highest level for most of his career, Wordley was not one to bend to the pressure. With three partners all qualified for the jump off, Wordley ensured he had a good chance at the victory; however, as has happened many times before, his ultimate success was found with Della Wordley’s 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Chacco-Blue),Mick Jagger. 

Sharn Wordley and Mick Jagger. Photo by ESI Photography

“The jump off really suited him,” he described. “He turns left better and it’s always better if I come a little slower into the combinations. Turning tight left into the combination really helped us, and then he could do nine coming home because he has such a big stride. I know him pretty well and I know which classes suit him and when I can go a bit faster or slower. If you manage him in a certain way he’s incredibly consistent at this level.”

Wordley, an Ocala local, has attended HITS throughout its years in Ocala and has most recently become involved in its continued development as the company he co-owns, Wordley Martin, has supplied footing and design in multiple arenas across the venue. 

“This was the main class of the season for me, and it always is,” explained Wordley. “I do every week here at HITS because we are invested in doing the footing, and we enjoy coming here.  This being the final, it is one we do every year and it’s very important to us.

“The HITS group has really made a massive effort to up the standard of the course builders,” he continued, “and within one year they’ve changed it around to have world class builders, not just some weeks but every week, and this week we have two of the best builders in the world.”

Damico ultimately wore the red ribbon with Amberfax Farm, Inc’s 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Cadensky)  as her time of 40.58 seconds slid just behind Wordley’s clear round in 38.24 seconds. The day was well-worth it for the New Zealander who also accepted the third place honors with a new younger mount, Della Wordley’s 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Bamako De Muze), Brin D’or De Haute Melen Z. A full list of results for the class can be found at www.showmanagementsystem.com.