Ocala, Florida, USA – December 09, 2020 – More than 50 entries took to the WEC Grand Arena yesterday afternoon to contest the $75,000 WEC Grand Prix 1.50m. The class saw four double clear entries, making time the determining factor for the tracks designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky. Aaron Vale claimed the top two spots in the $75,000 WEC Grand Prix 1.50m aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s Elusive and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Major (Carmargue x Pinot).
The $75,000 WEC Grand Prix 1.50m saw an international field of 30 entries battling for the lion’s share of the prize money, a World Equestrian Center — Ocala scrim and a stunning trophy from the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA). Aaron Vale (USA) owned the class, claiming 1st and 2nd place aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s Elusive (Rodrigoo x Alouette) and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Major (Carmargue x Pinot), respectively.
The course for this afternoon’s $75,000 WEC Grand Prix 1.50m featured 16 jumping efforts including a double combination, a triple combination and a liverpool. First to contest the course was Aaron Vale aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s Elusive. The pair took several top placings in grands prix across the eastern United States in 2020 and were on their game for this afternoon’s class. Vale and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Rodrigoo x Alouette) were quick and clear in a time of 82.161 seconds, well under the time allowed of 86 seconds, securing the first spot in the jump-off.
Aaron also claimed a jump-off spot aboard Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Major. The duo has also taken several top placings in grands prix across the eastern United States in 2020, signaling that they would be tough competitors in this afternoon’s class. Vale and the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Carmargue x Pinot) were careful in the first round, leaving all rails up in a time of 84.970 seconds.
Among the eight competitors advancing to the jump-off were Fernando Cardenas (COL) and his own Quincy Too The pair earned several ribbons in grands prix across the southeastern United States in 2020, preparing them well for this afternoon’s class. Cardenas and the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Quartz Adelheid Z x Pixie des Hayettes). jumped clear in the first round in 85.859 seconds, just under the time allowed.
Eight entries returned for the jump-off with Vale riding first aboard Elusive. With no available inside turn options to shave off time, Vale and Elusive shot into a full gallop between each fence. The pair flew through the timers, leaving all rails up in a time of 40.570 seconds, which would prove unbeatable.
Fernando Cardenas (COL) and Quincy Too returned later in the order with the same game plan. While they jumped clear, they were still two seconds behind Vale and Elusive, stopping the clock at 42.642 seconds and sliding into second place. Vale then returned aboard Major, again taking to the course at full speed. The pair crossed the timers at 42.520 seconds, moving into 2nd place by two-hundredths of a second, leaving Vale and Elusive on top and bumping Cardenas and Quincy Too to 3rd place.
Vale of Thinkslikeahorse in Williston, Florida, stuck around after the class to chat with us about his 1-2 victory, “The rides were very good. There were a few very fast riders in the class. Elusive is very competitive and has won quite a few grands prix in the last year. My plan was to just go as fast as he could go, and same with Major. When the order came out yesterday and Elusive was first, I was a little disappointed because he is my best horse. In spite of that, it all worked out. Being a local to Ocala, I was thinking that it would be a little extra special for me to win the first grand prix at World Equestrian Center — Ocala. No matter the success I have in the future, I can always say that I won the first grand prix at World Equestrian Center — Ocala.”
Vale described both of his mounts, “Elusive is like a pet. My wife and I have both shown him. I bought him early in his 6-year-old year, so we’ve has him for six years now. He’s won a bunch with both of us. I hope for my daughter to inherit him one day. He’s a special horse in our family. Major is a horse of Don Stewart’s and is for sale. I’ve had a lot of success on him over the past few years. He seems to like this arena, so I hope to ride him a bit longer.”
He also shared, “I’m local to Ocala. I’m originally a Texan, but I’ve shown in Ocala for more than 30 years and have been a permanent resident for 15 years. I can’t believe that this has been built here for us to show our horses. I’m 52 years old and I’ve never dreamed about a horse show in my life, but every day that I go home from World Equestrian Center — Ocala, I dream about it all night. I smile all day when I’m at the show, too. It’s unbelievable; it has got to be the premier facility in the world.”
$75,000 World Equestrian Center Grand Prix 1.50m
1) Aaron Vale (USA) & Elusive – 0 | 0 | 40.570
2) Aaron Vale (USA) & Major – 0 | 0 | 42.520
3) Fernando Cardenas (COL) & Quincy Too – 0 | 0 | 42.642
4) Jenna Friedman (ISR) & Tycoon Dargences – 0 | 0 | 46.382
5) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Esmee – 0 | 4 | 41.943
6) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Casper – 0 | 4 | 43.239
7) Santiago Lambre (MEX) & Dingeman – 0 | 8 | 43.004
8) Kama Godek (USA) & Stonehenge – 0 | 8 | 45.083
9) Santiago Lambre (MEX) & Mick Jagger, – 4 | 79.623
10) Bryn Sadler (USA) & Cinven CR – 4 | 80.285
Source: Press release from World Equestrian Center
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography