Ocala, Florida, USA – February 19, 2023 – Germany’s Andre Thieme (GER) is back at Hits Ocala and already dominating the leaderboard, capturing Sunday’s victory in the $100,000 Ocala Electric Utility Grand Prix aboard Conacco. The veteran duo bested a 12-horse jump-off with a double clear effort that was a full second faster than second place finishers Sharn Worldey (NZL) and Mick Jagger. Katherine Brewer (USA) and Casido 2 were just a stride behind Wordley to take home the third place honors.
“I have had [Conacco] many years by now and we’ve had some great international wins together,” noted Thieme. “He’s a real fighter and a real partner, and I hope our journey continues for many years. He’s always fresh and always going, so I always have to try to slow him down, and he’s just a very competitive, cool horse.”
Course designer Martin Otto set a demanding track for Sunday’s main event in the Grand Prix, testing riders with 13 obstacles during the first round, which eventually yielded 12 clear entries for the jump-off. The short course featured a vertical-oxer double combination and several rollbacks, including a very tight turn to the penultimate vertical before riders galloped past the gate to the final wide oxer.
Thieme was the second to return for the tiebreaker with Conacco and the first to leave all the fences intact. Taking the tightest track possible to the penultimate vertical proved key to winning as the German and the 12-year-old bay Oldenburg gelding (Conoglio x Chacco-Blue) galloped across the finish line in 45.114 seconds.
Sharn Wordley (NZL) took to the track two rounds later with Mick Jagger (Chacco-Blue x Dobel’s Cento), but even their quick round of 46.539 seconds was not enough to catch Thieme as the duo ended up in second place.
As one of the last to compete, Katherine Brewer (USA) and Casido 2 (Cosido x Grundyman) almost took the second place position from Wordley, but a slight hesitation in one of the turns cost them a fraction of a second for a fault-free time of 46.862 seconds, resulting in third place.
“I have a very quick horse and a very, experienced horse,” explained Thieme. “I tried to go with him and there was one place just before the second-to-last jump where you could really could cut short and take a very short turn. That’s what I did because I knew that’s what my horse is good at, and it worked very well! In the end we were faster than anybody else and left the rails up!”
Thieme has been a regular at Hits Ocala for over 20 years and was excited to see the improvements at the facility this year. “It’s unbelievable footing here in the schooling area and in the [Grand Prix] ring,” he concluded. “That’s the most important thing for the horses. I like everything about Hits, I always have, and the new footing is extra, extra nice.”
Jumper action will continue for five 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 – $100,000 Ocala Electric Utility Grand Prix
1) Andre Thieme (GER) & Conacco – 0 / 0 – 45.114
2) Sharn Worldey (NZL) & Mick Jagger – 0 / 0 – 46.539
3) Katherine Brewer (USA) Casido 2 & – 0 / 0 – 46.862
Source: Press Release (edited) from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography