(C) ESI Photography. Brian Moggre and MTM Flutterby on their way to a $7,500 U-Dump Jr/A-O Jumper Classic win.
Ocala, FL (March 24, 2016): The countdown to the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Post Time Farm on March 27 is on, but there was plenty excitement, not to mention big money opportunities in store for jumper exhibitors during Week IX of the Ocala Winter Circuit.
$100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix
The crowds turned out to see a field of 43 exhibitors compete for $100,000 in prize money sponsored by Sullivan GMC Trucks at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala on Sunday. In the final Sunday Grand Prix before this weekend’s Great American Million, everyone brought their A-game as many riders had multiple rides to try to claim the victory.
HITS Ocala’s “hometown hero” Aaron Vale had four rides, Amanda Flint had two, and Hayley Waters had two. Kevin Babington, Michael Hughes and Kristen Van Der Veen also came to battle for the blue.
Mathew Williams from Wellington, Florida, riding Valinski S, owned by Michael Dorman and Wyndmont, Inc., scored their first Grand Prix victory together with a double clear round in 43.744.
“He’s been in the top five in his last eight Grand Prix; [Valinski S] jumps so well and tries so hard. He was third in the World Cup in Vegas and has had top ribbons, and he’s very consistent,” said Williams. “We are planning on competing in the Great American Million next week.
Williams was one of seven riders to jump clean first rounds over a 1.55 meter course of 16 efforts designed by Marina Azevedo of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Williams continued, “I love jumping Marina’s courses. It was tough enough and technical enough, with just the right amount of clears. It was just the right course for this amount of prize money.”
The jump-off course started with a line down the outside, which could be done in six or seven strides. It included two rollback turns and continued to a combination with a gallop to the last vertical in seven or eight strides.
First to return for the jump-off was Kristen Van Der Veen of St. Charles, Illinois on Bull Run’s Holy Smokes. They had two unfortunate rails, finishing in a time of 41.194 with eight faults to finish sixth.
Next to go was Aaron Vale from Williston, Florida riding Bonzini S, owned by Thinkslikeahorse. Generally considered tough to beat in the jump-off, he took to the course with speed and power, but a rail at 12A of the combination, and a heart-breaker at the last fence earned them eight faults as they clocked in at 40.099. Faster than Van Der Veen, they eventually earned the fifth place prize.
Juan Manuel Gallego of Morriston, Florida, followed Vale riding his Goulash van De Broy Z. They jumped clear in a time of 44.922 to take the lead and set the Great American Time to Beat.
Brandy Holloway, another consistent performer this circuit with multiple ribbons to her credit, jumped next with Lucky Strike. The Topeka, Kansas native had a rail at 12A, and with a time of 42.059 she eventually finished fourth.
Bryn Sadler of Sante Fe, New Mexico and her veteran Bon Giorno followed with a clear round. They did seven strides up the first line and rode carefully to the finish fault-free in 46.401, putting them in temporary second.
Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania showed next on Mark Q. They went for the win, but after a rail mid-course, they would not recover, with two additional rails to finish seventh of 40.907.
Last but certainly not least to contest the shortened course was Williams and Valinski S. “This is the first time I haven’t gone first in the jump-off, so I actually had a plan. I planned the six up the first line and everything came up just the way I wanted it to,” said Williams. They crossed the timers clear in 43.744 to take over first place.
“I did one more across the middle, but I knew if I left the jumps up I would still be in front because I turned so tight to the last line. I’m so lucky to have a horse like that and to have two people that trust me and help me on the ground, Michael Dorman and Ronnie Beard.”
$7,500 U-Dump High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic
Brian Moggre aboard MTM Flutterby rode to a win in the $7,500 U Dump Junior/ Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.45m Classic for the third time this season at HITS Ocala. At only fourteen years of age, Moggre rides like a highly seasoned competitor, and paired with MTM Flutterby, he is a formidable opponent.
Sunday’s competitors tackled Marina Azevedo’s 16-effort course set at 1.45 meters. First to go in the jump-off was Olivia Dorey from Sudbury, Massachusetts riding Barsa. The shortened course consisted of two rollback turns, one to a Liverpool and one to a double combination. The course finished with a final oxer at either 7 or 8 strides out. Dorey had rails at both fences in the combination for a score of eight faults in a quick time of 40.183
Next up was Acanto 7 with Kate Mulligan from Frenchtown, New Jersey. The big bay had a rail down at fence three, then unexpectedly stopped at the final fence, unseating Mulligan, and putting them in third place.
Moggre from Flower Mound, Texas was the final rider to test the jump-off. “Obviously I wanted to go double clean but if I did have two rails I still wanted to be fast, so I cut inside to fence three so I could be quick and efficient,” he said. They flew past the timers in 40.218 for the win.
“My plan was to do seven in the final line, like the first rider, but I added the step because [MTM Flutterby] is more comfortable with it and she was more likely to jump it clean.”
Moggre plans to up the ante in the final week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit with Week X’s $25,000 Marshall and Sterling/Team Barber Child-Adult Jumper Classic.
“Next week I will do both of my horses in the $25,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner 1.45m Classic, and hopefully that will go just as well as today,” said Moggre.