Ocala, Florida, USA – March 07, 2021 – Week VII of the Hits Ocala Winter Circuit, welcomed riders back to the Winner’s Circle in more featured competition, including the $150,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix. There is still plenty of time to earn points toward the Tack Shack of Ocala 2nd-Half Circuit and Pyranha Overall Circuit Awards, which will be presented during the Ocala Championship. Also just around the corner is the seventh Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 28 – watch live on ShowHorse TV!
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 Tournament or click here to enter for the Hits Ocala Winter Circuit!
The stakes were high in Sunday’s $150,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix at Hits Post Time Farm. Nine riders jumped clean over the first round course designed by Martin Otto of Munster, Germany. Between the first round and the jump-off, as the riders made their preparations, the Marion County Therapeutic Association held a Calcutta which raised nearly $12,000 for the charity as part of their annual fundraiser. Vale, who had two horses in the jump-off, ended the week just the same as he started it – in the Winner’s Circle. It took just six hundredths of a second for Vale to recapture the lead as the last to go in the jump-off, in a time of 34.099 aboard Prescott for Thinkslikeahorse.
Rowan Willis (AUS) and Blue Movie (Chacco-Blue x Pilot) were right on the heels of the winners, finishing only six hundredths of a second behind.
“It was a brilliant design by Martin [Otto]. I know they wanted to have a few clean to do an auction and raise some money for MTRA,” said Vale. “He did a beautiful job building a nice course that was still difficult, with just enough horses in the jump off to make it a really good class.” Vale’s first ride over the shortened course was aboard Candro van de Zuuthoeve. “The jump-off started off with a fast round and kept getting better from there. It was a really fast jump-off – for my first horse [Candro], it really suited him. When I went on him and got in front of Hunter [Holloway], I thought that might have been enough to win the class. I was wrong,” Vale laughed.
Vale’s second horse, Prescott, was the mount he won the Week III Grand Prix on. “He’s [Prescott] a bit younger and less experienced, but he’s a little lighter and quicker naturally – so I went in with the plan and galloped to 1, ran down to 2 and if that came up good keep going to 3,” said Vale. “I got 1, 2, 3 really fast, so at that point I knew I was right on it. I thought I was on the time or even ahead. I had a pretty good feeling that I had done enough to win it and this time I was right!”
Vale also claimed third place, registering another double clear aboard Candro van de Zuuthoeve (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui), completing their jump-off performance in 34.31 seconds.
Final Results – $150,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix
1) Aaron Vale (USA) & Prescott – 0 / 0 – 34.10
2) Rowan Willis (AUS) & Blue Movie– 0 / 0 – 34.16
3) Aaron Vale (USA) & Candro Van Zuuthoeve – 0 / 0 – 34.31
Source: Press Release Hits Horse Show
Photos: © ESI Photography