Ocala, Florida, USA – June 20, 2021 – The WEC Grand Arena hosted thrilling equestrian sport today for the $75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix and the $10,000 WEC Ocala Futures Prix. A familiar face in the winner’s circle, Aaron Vale (USA) , once again led the grand prix victory gallop with Major, owned by Sleepy P Ranch LLC. Earlier in the day, Erato M and Carlo Graziani were awarded winners in the Futures Prix.
This evening’s $75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix hosted 52 entries under the lights in the WEC Grand Arena. 2016 Olympic Games course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) of Brazil designed a technical track that included a triple bar to a narrow triple combination, as well as a double oxer combination which challenged riders. Sixteen entries advanced to the jump-off but it was Vale and Major who found the key to victory.
Vale (USA) produced a clean first round on all four horses that he entered in the class, qualifying all of his mounts for the jump-off. Three of Vale’s horses were awarded in the top 10 honors, with Major taking the victory.
Aaron Vale (USA) brought his A-game once again tonight, piloting the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding through a clear first round and stopping the clock at 37.527 seconds as the fastest time in the jump-off. He described, “I took eight strides back to the Tribute jump, but it was wide, so it was a very fast eight. On my first horse I got eight and thought, darn, I could have done seven but with Major, the stride out on the first line carried me wide which gave me a ton of momentum so even though I didn’t leave out, it was still really fast.”
Vale (USA) and Major (Carmargue x Pinot) won two grand prix classes during the winter circuit at World Equestrian Center – Ocala.
“Major is an experienced horse,” said Vale. “I have to be careful with him in certain places but once in a while the class set up doesn’t allow you to be careful. Luckily, he is a natural bloody horse, so it was enough to get the job done.
“He was second twice, then third, fourth, and sixth place the last week,” said Vale, who won five of the 12 grand prix classes offered during the Winter Spectacular. “He showed here about seven times and was in the money every time.”
Just behind Vale and Major were Rowan Willis (AUS), and his own Ashton Dakota (Lupicor H x Pomina M). Willis and the 13-year-old SHBGB gelding were clear in the jump-off and just off the winning mark in 38.176 seconds to earn the second-place finish.
Vale (USA) rounded out the top three on his other mount, Prescott, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Lordanos owned by Thinks Like a Horse. Vale (USA) and Prescott delivered a fast and flawless first round stopping the clock at 78.078 seconds, earning Vale his fourth spot in the jump-off. The pair navigated a fast and clear jump-off in 38.235 seconds, just 0.059 seconds behind Willis (AUS) and Ashton Dakota.
“This is his first year in the bigger classes,” said Vale of his young horse. “I went quick with him, but I knew that I already had the class win and there are still many more weeks of shows left. I don’t want to burn all the rubber off the tires.”
An additional $5,000 was awarded to the fastest four-faulter of the $75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix. It was Tracey Fenney of Flower Mound, TX, and MTM Dolce Vita, who received a very fast first-round time of 73.219 seconds, 1.475 seconds faster than the second fastest four-faulter in the first round, Johan Kachelhoffer of Wellington, FL, and Cosmona.
Final Results – $75,000 Calluna Spa Grand Prix
1) Aaron Vale (USA) & Major – 0 / 0 – 37.527
2) Rowan Willis (AUS) & Ashton Dakota– 0 / 0 – 38.176
3) Aaron Vale (USA) & Prescott – 0 / 0 – 38.235
4) Diego Billbao (ESP) & ABC Quantum Cruise – 0 / 0 – 39.573
5) Jordan Petersen (USA) & Diamant’s Legacy – 0 / 0 – 39.741
6) Tracy Fenney (USA) & MTM Reve Du Paradis – 0 / 0 – 40.263
7) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Gatsby – 0 / 0 – 40.468
8) Samuel Prot (CHI) & Koblenz Van De Vinusakker – 0 / 0 – 40.658
9) Aaron Vale (USA) & Thinks Like a Horse – 0 / 0 – 40.883
10) Shawn Casady (USA) & Cinderella Z – 0 / 0 – 42.132
Source: Press release from World Equestrian Center
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography