Ocala, Florida, USA – February 14, 2021 – The fourth week of the Hits Ocala Winter Circuit took place last week at the Hits Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida, USA. With the halfway mark just around the corner, competition is heating up there, all leading up to the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix.
The Hits Ocala Winter Classic (IV) welcomed Hunter Riders to the Grand Prix Stadium on Saturday for the first of two USHJA International Hunter Derbies this Circuit, and Ponies showed under the lights Saturday evening in the first of two USHJA Pony Hunter Derbies. Along with these featured hunter classes, prize money increased to award $150,000 in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
The stakes were high in Sunday’s Grand Prix which awarded $150,000 in prize money, and will continue to increase through the rest of the Hits Ocala Winter Circuit. Just as in Friday’s Grand Prix, Sunday featured a track designed by Mr. Olaf Petersen (GER)that called for accuracy and carefulness. Eight riders successfully navigated the first round course with no faults. Those with faults had the most trouble through the combination on the diagonal (7A-B) to the single oxer (8) heading toward the in-gate.
Aaron Vale (USA) was the first to return in the jump-off aboard Elusive (Rodrigoo x Capfucino) for Thinkslikeahorse. Vale knows as well as anyone that being first to go in the jump-off means setting the pace, and with fast contenders behind you, you have to take risks. That’s just what Vale did in Sunday’s Grand Prix, posting the fastest time at 38.782, but an unlucky rail at the second to last fence ultimately placed them in third.
Second to return was Andre Thieme (GER) and he crossed the timers clean in 39.193, with a time that would be quick enough for the win. Thieme moved up from his third place finish in last Sunday’s Grand Prix aboard his own Connaco (Conoglio x Chacco Blue) and was just one of two riders to complete the jump-off fault free.
The other fault-free ride belonged to Hunter Holloway (USA) and the up-and-coming Pepita Con Spita (Con Spirit x Come On), who are proving their ability to hold their own against some of the top Grand Prix horses and riders showing at this year’s Circuit. Holloway took home second place in a time of 41.009 seconds.
USEF-Rated Hunter/Jumper competition continues at Hits Post Time Farm through March 28, culminating with the seventh Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. As you make your plans to join us for the Hits Ocala Winter Circuit, please be sure to review the USEF Covid Protocol and the Hits Covid Protocol prior to your arrival. Read on for a recap of featured class winners from the Ocala Premiere or click here to enter for the Hits Ocala Winter Circuit!
Final Results – $150,000 Hits Grand Prix
1) Andre Thieme (GER) & Conacco – 0 / 0 – 39.193
2) Hunter Holloway (USA) & Pepita Con Spita – 0 / 0 – 41.009
3) Aaron Vale (USA) & Elusive – 0 / 4 – 38.872
Source: Press release (edited) from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography