Ocala, Florida, USA – February 17, 2023 – Dorothy Douglas (USA) gave spectators a bit of deja vu on Friday, repeating her victory in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix from Week One with MTM Caepten. She and her new partner bested the nine other double-clear entries by over a second to return to the winner’s circle alongside owner Nina Koloseike and trainer Mike McCormick. Hunter Holloway (USA) was right behind Douglas, claiming both the second and third-place ribbons with La Rochelle and Dana de Kerglenn, respectively.
“MTM Caepten is the coolest horse,” expressed Douglas after her win. “He does something off the ground that feels like he has little springs in his feet. It’s nice that he’s seasoned enough that I can just work on good riding. Between Mike and Tracy pushing me and having an owner like Nina it’s very cool to just go practice riding – it’s really fun!”
Course designer Martin Otto set a welcoming track for Friday’s main event and nine of the athletes that returned for the jump-off went on to produce a second clear effort. The short course included an oxer-vertical double combination and finished with a long turn away from the gate to the final oxer.
As the pathfinders in the first round, Holloway (USA) and Dana de Kerglenn were the first to return for the jump-off and set the Great American time to beat at a quick 43.161 seconds.
Midway through the jump-off, it was starting to look like Holloway’s lead would hold, and it wasn’t until Dorothy Douglas (USA) and MTM Caepten entered the ring that the lead changed hands. Douglas opted for an outer track to one fence with a faster gallop, and then took the inner path to the final oxer. Her decisions paid off as the duo dashed through the timers in 41.917 seconds to take the lead.
Holloway had the advantage of going last with her second mount, La Rochelle, and tried to catch Douglas to retake the lead, but the pair fell shy of the time, clocking in at 43.135 seconds to move into second place and give Douglas the victory.
“You just have to go for it,” explained Douglas. “Obviously, you want to be clear, but I think with that many [riders] the times are so tight. After watching the first couple go, we actually decided from two to three going around and keep going was a little bit faster, and then we also decided to dip inside to the last jump. I definitely made up some time from two to three and then to the last jump, but my plan was just to go for it”
Douglas is very grateful to have the opportunity to compete with the 13-year-old Warmblood gelding, noting, “This horse has a little bit changed my life right now. Having a horse like him that can go and win makes me more confident, and in turn, it makes me ride all my other horses even better. It’s funny how one horse can do that for somebody.”
This week Douglas has been competing with several of MTM Farm’s young jumpers and has appreciated having the opportunity to utilize the Young Jumper program at HITS where horses under 7 years of age can compete in Open Jumper classes free of charge.
“This week, we got to put a lot of miles on some of our young jumpers and it’s amazing that they’re offering that program for horses 7 and under,” concluded Douglas. “We have some 6 and 7-year-olds that aren’t quite ready to do their age group classes, so it was nice to come out and jump a 1.10m and then go do a 1.15m class!”
Riders will return to the Grand Prix Ring on Saturday for the $10,000 Post Time Classic and Sunday afternoon for the $100,000 Ocala Electric Utility Grand Prix. The Overlook Club features the perfect view of the ring and is open to all, with a special brunch every Sunday for $45 per person. The season at HITS Ocala will culminate with the Great American $300,000 Grand Prix on Sunday, March 26, with one of the biggest purses in the country. Make sure to visit the horse show office or http://www.hitsshows.com for more information.
Final Results – $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
1) Dorothy Douglas (USA) & MTM Caepten – 0 / 0 – 41.917
2) Hunter Holloway (USA) & La Rochelle – 0 / 0 – 43.135
3) Hunter Holloway (USA) & Dana de Kerglenn – 0 / 0 – 43.161
Source: Press Release from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography