(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Daniel Bluman and Conconcreto Believe.
OCALA, FL (February 21, 2016): International show jumping competition continued Saturday at HITS Post Time Farm when the picturesque Ocala Horse Properties Stadium became the stage for the $34,600 FEI HITS Jumper Classic. Hot off a third place team finish in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup CSIO4*, presented by Edge Brewing Barcelona, Daniel Bluman, riding for Colombia aboard Conconcreto Believe, owned by Blue Star Investments and Alberto Simh, added another podium finish to the list, this time taking home the blue ribbon.
Forty-five riders attempted the 1.50m course set by Alan Wade, of Ireland, and it proved to be a true test of athleticism for those brave enough to confront it. Tight turns, a tricky mid-course combination and impressive height resulted in just four riders going clear to secure a jump-off showdown.
First to challenge the abbreviated course was Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) and Epire van Wuitenshof, owned by Lazzarotto Deborah. All was in Perez’s favor until he approached the combination, where a refusal earned him four faults and four time penalties. Another rail cost him four more faults, finishing with a total of 12 faults in a time of 55.46.
Next in the jump-off order was Lauren Hough (USA) piloting Ohlala, owned by The Ohlala Group. They had a steady start like Perez, but an unfortunate rail at the mid-course combination and another at the final fence, would result in eight faults as they passed the timers in 42.50.
Scott Keach (AUS) and Viriato, co-owned with Southern Cross Equest, was third to re-enter the ring and after watching his competition, he knew what to do for a clean trip. Together they galloped through the course, with onlookers sighing in relief when Keach cleared the combination with precision. Clocking in with a time of 48.45, and with an intact course behind him, it appeared that a blue ribbon was on the horizon for Keach.
Known to excel in the jump-off, Bluman and his bay mount did just that from the moment the clock started. Careful execution between horse and rider led to a blazing fast clear round for Bluman who completed the course in a time of 44.23, a full four seconds faster than Keach. Bluman’s performance knocked Keach to second, Hough to third and Perez to fourth.
“I personally prefer when there are not a lot of clear rounds, because I’ve had better luck in competition when there have been jump-offs with fewer people. I was happy I got to go at the end with a horse whose height level is this high,” said Bluman. “Alan Wade has always been one of my favorite course designers. As a rider, you have course designers that win you more and some that win you less, and Alan is one where I win more, so I try to jump every course I can when he is building.”
This week marked Bluman’s second trip to HITS Ocala and he was enthusiastic about his return visit, adding, “The show has been lovely. I love the footing and the jumps – it’s nice and fresh. The horses really like it and they jump really well here.”
The final day of FEI Nations Cup Week at HITS Ocala is Sunday, February 21, and will finish with the $100,000 FEI City of Ocala Grand Prix.