Ocala, Florida, USA – November 18, 2023 – The WEC Grand Arena at World Equestrian Center – Ocala was brimming with equestrian fans as a field of 34 talented show jumping athletes from around the world vied for the lion’s share of the prize money in the $100,000 Hampton Green Farms Grand Prix. Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) achieved a remarkable hat trick, clinching his third feature class victory during the 2023 November & December Show Series aboard Vick du Croisy (Lord Carthago x Merveille Ducroisy).
FEI Level III course designer, Oscar Soberon (USA) crafted the intricate tracks where only three combinations managed to fight their way to a clean first round. Luis Sabino Gonçalves secured two of those three jump-off positions, and the third horse, ridden by Aaron Vale (USA), Gonçalves owns through his business Sigma Stables LLC. “The third horse in the jump-off is mine. Aaron Vale rides the horse very well and always does a great job with him. I am super happy with today’s result!”
Aaron Vale (USA) was the first contender to return for the jump-off aboard Constantin de Hus (Ugobak Des Baleines x Cafe Creme). Vale and the 11-year-old Selle Français gelding whipped around the short course in 40.862 seconds to set the time to beat.
Gonçalves attempted to snag the lead from Vale, first aboard his new partner Scoop de Septon Z, a nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Hunters Scendro x Kageena Van T Hoogeinde. With an unfortunate rail in 42.970 seconds, Scoop de Septon Z slid behind Vale, but Gonçalves still had his quickest trick up his sleeve.
“I was hoping Aaron would make my life easy, but he never does. With Scoop I had a fault at number two, so I knew I was behind, so I was ready to try with Vick,” said Gonçalves.
Although Vick du Croisy is naturally fast, Gonçalves knew he couldn’t “sleep because Aaron Vale (USA) is always fast.” Gonçalves didn’t leave anything on the table, and piloted the 14-year-old Selle Français mare to a blistering fast track in 37.990 seconds to once again lead the victory gallop.
“Vick, she’s a winner. She does so well because of the amazing atmosphere. The footing is really good. The horses jump comfortably and happy,” he noted. “I am looking forward to next year, I already saw the schedule and it looks like there is going to be so many amazing shows; three-stars, four-stars and five-stars. A facility like this one deserves important shows like that. The shows before were great, but the four-star and five-star events fit with the quality of the facility.”
Aaron Vale (USA) also secured himself an extra $5,000 with the fastest-four faulter award. He earned the award with Cristo Beech with a quick time of 76.696 seconds with just one rail down in the first round.
August Torsilieri received the ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.
Final Results – $100,000 Hampton Green Farms Grand Prix
1) Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Vick du Croisy, Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 0 | 37.990
2) Aaron Vale (USA) & Constantin de Hus, Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 0 | 40.862
3) Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Scoop de Septon Z, Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 4 | 42.970
4) Tracy Fenney (USA) & MTM Apple, MTM Farm: 1 | 81.184
5) Declan Egan (IRL) & Renkum A’Toast, Declan Egan: 1 | 84.525
6) Hunter Holloway (USA) & Liemba, Hays Investment Corp.: 1 | 84.805
7) Jessica Leto (USA) & Mistral, Jessica Leto: 3 | 86.020
8) Aaron Vale (USA) & Cristo Beech, Alise Carrico: 4 | 76.696
9) Will Simpson (USA) & Chacco P, Will Simpson Stables Inc.: 4 | 78.029
10) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Valentine Car, Fernando Cardenas: 4 | 78.885
Source: Press Release from World Equestrian Center
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography