Ocala, Florida, USA – July 15, 2023 – It was a packed house at World Equestrian Center – Ocala this evening as spectators and exhibitors alike flocked to the WEC Grand Arena to watch the $100,000 Tipperary Equestrian Grand Prix. The atmosphere was electric for the field of top-level athletes, but it was Aaron Vale (USA) that scored a first and second place finish, fueled by the cheering crowd.
Eight horses battled for blue in the jump-off over a course built by FEI Level II course designer Tucker Williams (USA).
Dorothy Douglas (USA) was the first to return to the jump-off aboard MTM Farm’s Caepten 2 (Cayton x Rikkirou). Douglas and the neat 11-year-old Warmblood led the charge with a quick time of 42.816 seconds.
Douglas’ time wasn’t matched until Aaron Vale (USA) entered the arena aboard his first mount Cristo Beech (It’s the Business x Ragua) owned by Alise Carrico.
“It wasn’t a perfect jump-off course-wise for Cristo. The rollback to two is probably his weakness for going fast. The leader at that point did eight strides from one-to-two. I took an extra step and did nine, but I did do eight up to the end fence. The stride I gave up, I made up to the next one. Then I cruised pretty quick back to the in-and-out. I took a little breath on the way to the yellow. I caught the Liverpool quite good. I dropped the reins and took a chance to the last, I wasn’t quite sure I was going to get there good enough for him to takeoff, but he did. Usually when he’s running, he’s not going to hit one.”
Vale and the 12-year-old Warmblood gelding flew over the final jump stopping the clock at 40.398 seconds.
Several competitors tried to catch Vale’s time, but fell victim to an unfortunate rail in the process. Vale and Elusive were the second-to-last pair to attempt the short course. Vale was already sitting in first, but knew he had a fast rider on his heels.
“Coming back with Elusive, I knew I could ask him those little questions that Cristo isn’t ready to handle. With Tracy [Fenney] behind me and knowing how fast Apple can be, I was pretty close to having the win already, but wanted to try and put as much pressure on Tracy as I could,” said Vale.
“Elusive was operating tonight. I got seven strides from one to two which was really fast. I ran up to the end vertical in nine, that was one more than Cristo, but that put me a stride ahead from one to two. I flew down to the in-and-out. I took a bit of a breath to the yellow, but caught the last two flying again. Sometimes when you get him running, the faster you run the harder he tries.”
Stopping the clock at a blistering 39.279 seconds, Vale secured himself first and second place.
The crowd was on their feet for Vale and Elusive, “The crowd here at World Equestrian Center is the best. They appreciate the horses even when you have one down. They appreciate the effort the horses put in. They cheer for the horses when you’re leaving the ring. It’s always better when you win, but it’s heartwarming that the people really appreciate the horse. They even cheer the horses that aren’t the winners. That makes it extra special.”
Will Simpson (USA) and Chacco P secured the fastest-four faulter award in the $100,000 Tipperary Equestrian Grand Prix with a quick first round time of 77.059 seconds with one rail down.
Declan Egan and Renkum A’Toast received the ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.
Final Results – $100,000 Tipperary Equestrian Grand Prix
1) Aaron Vale (USA) & Elusive, Thinkslikeahorse: 0 | 0 | 39.279
2) Aaron Vale (USA), Cristo Beech, Alise Carrico: 0 | 0 | 40.398
3) Dorothy Douglas (USA) Caepten 2, MTM Farm: 0 | 0 | 42.816
4) Daniel Geitner (USA), Vest De Lavardin, November Hill: 0 | 4 | 39.997
5) Tracy Fenney (USA) & MTM Apple, MTM Farm: 0 | 4 | 41.160
6) Luis Sabino Goncalves (POR) & Vick Du Croisy, Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 4 | 41.376
7) Marcello Geronimo Ciavaglia (BRA) & HST Cartouche, Arnoldo Wald Filho: 0 | 4 | 44.785
8) Dorothy Douglas (USA) & MTM Pablo, MTM Farm: 0 | 4 | 49.311
9) Victoria Colvin (USA) & Pick Wick Van De Kruishoeve, BMT Partners: 1 | 83.628
10) Mallory Vale (USA) & Gray’s Inn, Thinkslikeahorse:1 | 83.893
Source: Press Release from World Equestrian Center
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography