Ocala, Florida, USA – January 24, 2021 – Hits Post Time Farm welcomed back horses and riders from around the world for the 40th Anniversary of the Hits Ocala Winter Circuit last week. The venue at the ‘Horse Capital of the World’ features 10 weeks of USEF-Rated Hunter/Jumper competition, now through March 28, culminating with the seventh edition of the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix.
It was déjà vu for Hunter Holloway as she clinched the top honors in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, kicking off the 2021 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit on a high note. Holloway, the youngest rider in the Grand Prix, won this same class last year with her mother’s Grand Prix Horse, Lucky Strike. As Hunter reminisced, she shared how exciting it was to win the first Grand Prix of the season aboard Pepita Con Spita, owned by Hays Investment Corp.
Seven jumped clean in the first round with Holloway being the first to return – generally, a tough spot to be on a young horse with many Grand Prix veterans to follow.
Hunter set the pace aboard the 10-year-old grey Westphalian mare (DSP Con Spirit x Come On) , marking a quick time of 30.301 and holding on to the first position through the remaining jump-off rounds. “For me, my plan never really changes too much, especially with a horse like her and at this point in her career where she is so quick and careful,” Holloway said as she recapped her jump-off.
After winning the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Friday, Francois Lamontagne (CAN) and Chanel du Calvaire came close to taking top honors in the two most important classes of the week. Nevertheless, the Canadian and the 13-year-old chestnut mare (Luccianno x Kashmir van Schuttershof) were great again, finishing second only due to their final time of 30.747 seconds.
Dorothy Douglas (USA) & MTM Fiona 621 (Catoo x Caretino 2) also registered a double clear, rounding out the top three backed by a jump-off time of 32.407 seconds.
“Every time you go in that position, you’re lucky because you can just go for it. It’s not like she’s a little young, like last year, where we were taking our time. This year it didn’t matter if we went first, or last or in the middle because we were going to go for it either way.” The future is bright for the young mare and Holloway was excited to share that they have also just imported her [Pepita’s] daughter and is really looking forward to seeing her come along.
“This mare [Pepita] is awesome! She was imported about a year and a half ago by Hays Investment Corp. This is so exciting because last year we were just getting experience on her and getting miles, but now this year she’s really ready to come in and win it so you get to go for it,” said Holloway. Holloway showed ‘Pepita’ at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit last year and explained that she was a bit more conservative to be sure to keep her confident and brave. “She’s such a careful horse and a quick horse so you really want to take your time with those types,” Holloway explained.
Watch for Holloway in upcoming competition at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. “I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Circuit!” Holloway added. “We’re like one big family and that’s probably my favorite part about showing here.”
Source: Press release (edited) from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography