Ocala, Florida, USA – June 30, 2023 – International competition resumed early morning at the World Equestrian Center – Ocala on Friday with the $40,000 1.45m Two-Phase Special Challenge CSI 3* during week IV of the 2023 Ocala Summer Series. Thirty top show jumpers were invited to test their abilities over Alan Wade’s (IRL) two-phase track, but it was Aaron Vale (USA) that snagged a third consecutive victory aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s Elusive (Rodrigoo x Capfucino).
Athletes were on their A-game this morning as 17 navigated fault-free rounds, but the race to victory was fierce with top placings separated by less than one second.
Coming into the class this morning, Aaron Vale (USA) knew it was going to be competitive, “This class is big enough with jumps at 1.45m that the horses have to jump a bit, but they’re plenty of good horses here, so you know it’s going to be a fast class to win. It’s a chase from one after another. Elusive is a super experienced horse, so there are just tiny things I am doing out there to save that one second overall.”
Vale shared his strategy for the speed portion of the track, “The Liverpool was in the first phase, but I jumped it a little to the left so when I was getting to the next one, I could be curving right to get over to the green. Same thing after the combination, I got over the to blue one, I made sure to get there early enough to start to turn. I think I was a fair bit inside of everybody from the blue and white vertical back to the oxer. Seven strides to the last jump, where some of the horses with bigger strides had to slow and wait, while I was able to stay in a race drive for the full seven.”
Vale captured the victory aboard his seasoned partner Elusive with a blistering time of 29.87 seconds.
“Elusive is such an experienced horse, I was just splitting the hairs to save a little time out there and our partnership together was able to do it” shared Vale about the nimble 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood – Royal Dutch Sport Horse (KWPN) gelding.
Right behind Vale, was Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Fernando Cardenas’ 14-year-old American Warmblood gelding Valentine Car (Son Of Juan Car x Galiani CH). The pair were slick in the speed phase in 30.36 seconds to ultimately secure the second-place spot on the podium.
Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen (USA) and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood – Royal Dutch Sport Horse (KWPN) gelding Forever SFN (Azteca VDL x Non Stop) owned by Serenity Farm earned third place honors with a speedy effort in 30.67 seconds, just a few tenths of a second behind Wordley.
International competition continues tomorrow evening at 7pm in the WEC Grand Arena with the $150,000 Florida Coast Equipment Grand Prix CSI 3*. There is no charge for admission or parking, spectators are encouraged to come out and cheer on their favorite athletes!
Final Results – $40,000 Two Phase Special CSI 3* – 1.45m
1) Aaron Vale (USA) & Elusive: 2009 KWPN gelding by Rodrigoo x Capfucino, Thinkslikeahorse – 0 / 0 – 29.87
2) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Valentine Car: 2009 American Warmblood gelding by Son Of Juan Car x Galiani CH
Fernando Cardenas – 0 / 0 – 30.36
3) Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen (USA) & Forever SFN: 2010 KWPN gelding by Azteca VDL x Non Stop, Serenity Farm – 0 / 0 – 30.67
4) Erynn Ballard (CAN) & Coconet: 2014 Oldenburg mare by Colman x Cornet’s Stern, Wight Show Stables LL – 0 / 0 – 31.51
5) Jad Dana (LBN) & Fleur-de-Lis Cherie: 2012 Holsteiner mare by Clarimo x Lancer II, The Cherie Group – 0 / 0 – 31.52
6) Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Sun Warrior: 2014 Holsteiner gelding by Flexible x Fasolt, Linda Starkman – 0 / 0 – 31.53
7) Gwyneth Babington (USA) & Mark Q: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Obos Quality x Positively, Kevin Babington – 0 / 0 – 31.70
8) Richard Spooner (USA) & Halcon: 2015 Argentinian Sport Horse stallion by Con Air x Cardento, Molly Ohrstrom – 0 / 0 – 31.75
9)Richie Moloney (IRL) & Skelwith Diamond Lady: 2014 AES mare by Kalaska De Semilly x Balou Du Rouet Equinimity LLC – 0 / 0 – 31.93
10) Alberto Michan (ISR) & Champion League: 2013 Hanoverian gelding by Cador 5 x Contendro I, Daniel Michan – 0 / 0 –32.00
11) Angela Covert (CAN) & Hollywood de Rase Z: 2012 Zangersheide gelding by Hoegie Van’t Bergske x Triomphe De Muze, Angela Covert – 0 / 0 – 32.47
12) Sean Jobin (CAN) & Coquelicto vh Heuvelland Z: 2012 Zangersheide gelding by Catoki x Cassini II, Foxridge Farms Stables – 0 / 0 – 33.33
Source: Press Release from World Equestrian Center
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography