Ocala, Florida, USA – January 29, 2023 – New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley (NZL) set an unbeatable target with Mick Jagger on Sunday during the $50,000 Voltaire Design Grand Prix at Hits Ocala. He was the first to return during the jump-off, and with a quick and clear effort that left the remaining riders trying to chase him, he took home the winning title. The only other fault-free effort belonged to Australia’s Scott Keach (AUS) and Wild Thing for second place. Keach also placed third aboard his second mount, Noble de La Chapelle.
“Mick Jagger really likes this ring here at HITS, so I’m going to compete with him every Sunday, just one class,” said Wordley after his win. “If he likes [a venue] he has some consistency, so he’ll just jump one class. He won a couple of grand prixs here last year, and he was second in the grand prix last week, so he’s having a great year!”
Danny Foster (CAN) designed the track for the $50,000 Voltaire Design Grand Prix in the new Grand Prix ring at HITS Ocala, which began with a triple bar and concluded with a triple combination followed by a final line towards the gate. Seven advanced to the tiebreaker, where they were tested with several tight rollbacks and a long gallop to the final vertical, which dashed the dreams of three of the jump-off competitors.
Mick Jagger and Wordley were the pathfinders during the first round and returned first for the jump-off. Wordley knew he would need to put pressure on the other riders with a clear round. Mick Jagger was careful over each fence, leaving them untouched as the duo galloped through the timers in a clear 46.244 seconds.
Scott Keach (AUS) was next with Wild Thing and tried to catch Wordley’s time by following the same path. The rails stayed intact, but they were just shy of the leading time after breaking the beam in 46.580 seconds. The next four horse and rider combinations tried to beat Wordley’s time, but it came at the expense of the jumps.
Keach was the last to return with Noble de La Chapelle. Knowing he already had the second-place prize in hand, he opted for a more conservative effort to leave the fences up, incurring 1-time fault after stopping the clock at 55.531 seconds and sealing Wordley’s win.
“My plan was to go medium fast and make sure that I was clear, but still go fast enough to put a bit of pressure on everybody else,” explained Wordley. “I’ve had Mick Jagger for two years and he’s been a really good horse for me.”
Mick Jagger is a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by the legendary Chacco-Blue. “He’s a stressful horse with extreme ability, but he’s not always together with you. Trying to get him to navigate corners and slow down and go forward is sometimes challenging. I’ve gotten to know him now, so I know sometimes you have to pull left to turn right and sometimes right to turn left with this horse, but when he gets there, he can jump any course.”
Wordley is one of the founders of Wordley Martin Premium Equestrian Surfaces and helped create and design the Grand Prix ring and Main Hunter ring at HITS Ocala. “Joe Norick and the team here have really changed things up, and it’s a completely different atmosphere at HITS than it used to be. It’s a, ‘How can we help you? What can we do for you?’ environment, which is fantastic,” he concluded. “It’s a breath of fresh air to be here. We built the arenas, and thankfully they’re riding really well. The new jumps look great, so it’s been great!”
Jumper action will continue for eight more weeks in the new Grand Prix ring at HITS Ocala. The Overlook Club features a perfect view of the ring and is open to all, with a special brunch every Sunday for $45 per person during the weekly grand prix. The season culminates with the Great American $300,000 Grand Prix on Sunday, March 26, with one of the biggest purses in the country. Visit the horse show office or http://www.hitsshows.com for more information.
Final Results – $50,000 Voltaire Design Grand Prix
1) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Mick Jagger – 0 / 0 – 46.244
2) Scott Keach (AUS) & Wild Thing – 0 / 0 – 46.580
3) Scott Keach (AUS) & Noble de La Chapelle – 0 /10 – 55.531
Source: Press Release from Hits Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography