Tag Archives: Aaron Vale

Vale Widens Hagyard Challenge Series Leads, Hesslink Tops Hallway Feeds Standings

Aaron Vale and Quidam’s Good Luck.

Lexington, Ky. – May 23, 2016 – Aaron Vale has widened his early lead in the 2016 Hagyard Challenge Series by claiming the second place prize for the second week in a row during Thursday’s $34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*. Vale, who has been competing at the Kentucky Horse Shows for 28 years, piloted Quidam’s Good Luck to a double-clear round, finishing just shy of the winner, Todd Minikus and Quality Girl. The Kentucky Spring Classic also featured the second event for the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series, where Geoffrey Hesslink earned the second place prize to further his lead in the standings.

During the first event of the Hagyard Challenge Series Vale placed second and third to claim the early lead. Pablo Barrios of Venezuela continues to hold the second place position in the standings after claiming the victory in the first leg of the Series aboard ASD Farfala. Todd Minikus and Quality Girl are just 30 points behind Barrios after winning Thursday’s highlight event.

The Hagyard Challenge Series consists of seven grand prix classes to be held during the 2016 show series at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the final event, a cash prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series as well as a $10,000 prize for the reserve champion.

The series concludes with the $65,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic held during the Kentucky National Horse Show. Following that exciting competition, the winner of the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus will be announced and presented with the cash prize by the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. New this year is the $200 Best Turned Out award, sponsored by Bob Mickler’s, which will go to a well-deserving groom following each grand prix. In addition, a Hagyard’s Handsomest Hound contest will also be held at each grand prix, sponsored by MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets.

Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is one of the oldest and largest equine veterinary practices in the world. Founded in 1876, the institute offers a staff with qualifications unparalleled by any single non-university veterinary group in the equine industry, and Hagyard veterinarians have dedicated themselves to the health and well-being of the horse.

The facility at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute offers 13 digital radiology systems, 1.5 Tesla Siemens MRI, nuclear scintigraphy, an on-site laboratory, an on-site pharmacy, full medical and surgical services, 24-hour emergency services and hyperbaric medicine. The practice has performed veterinary medicine for more than 137 years and is currently composed of over 50 experienced veterinarians, with 13 board certifications in specialty areas of medicine, surgery and theriogenology.

For more information on the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, please visit www.hagyard.com.

Several generous sponsors have helped m

Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco
Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco

ake this exciting series event happen. These gracious supporters include title sponsor MWI Animal Health and presenting sponsor Zoetis as well as Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC, Hallway Feeds, Audi of Lexington, Pike & Preston, Sallee Horse Vans and Hagyard Pharmacy. Additional sponsors include Equine Therapy and FooteWorks.

The Kentucky Spring Classic also featured the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby, the second event in the 2016 Hallway Feeds series. Hesslink took home the second place honors with Esco, which was combined with his first and third place ribbons during the first week to take over the lead in the standings. Aaron Vale earned the victory during the Kentucky Spring Classic with Madewell to move into the second place position, while Hunter Holloway rounds out the top three and is the leading junior competitor.

The five-part series will feature a $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby throughout the spring and summer, and at the conclusion of the series the Leading Rider Bonus will be presented.  The $15,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Bonus will award a $10,000 cash prize to the professional rider accumulating the most points in the five classes that make up the 2016 Hallway Feeds series. The series-leading amateur and junior riders accumulating the most points will each receive a $2,500 cash prize. Riders will receive points only on their highest placed horse in each of the classes. The awards will be presented at the conclusion of the Hallway Feeds class at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show on August 21.

Hallway Feeds’ close proximity to the Kentucky Horse Park provides ample opportunity to utilize the freshest feed, manufactured with time-honored commitments to high standards of quality and the latest scientific advancements. Combining a premium nutrition package with a professional level of dedication in horsemen and women provides equine athletes with the formula for success.

For more information on Hallway Feeds, please visit www.hallwayfeeds.com.

The Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series would not be possible without many generous sponsors including Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Fenwick Equestrian Products, EquiVision, Inc., Caddel Equine Therapy Center, Bauer Hay & Straw, Alfagreen Supreme, Trouw Nutrition, The Andersons, Mark Fischer Inc., Double S Liquid Feed Services, Inc., Agri-Business Insurance Services and Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher.

For more information on Kentucky Horse Shows LLC and the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows series, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Three-Peat for Minikus and Quality Girl with $130k Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3* Win

Todd Minikus and Quality Girl.

Aaron Vale Demonstrates Skills in Hunter Ring with $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Win

Lexington, Ky. – May 21, 2016 – The Kentucky Spring Classic’s main event, the $130,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3*, was an unforgettable one as Todd Minikus (USA) and Quality Girl pulled off their third FEI win for the week. The win was extra meaningful to Minikus as it honored his dear friend and horsewoman Mary Rena Murphy.

“I’ve been coming to the horse park since before it was cool to come to the horse park,” said Minikus. “Mary Rena was putting on the horse shows here and she used to give me a lot of grief. At the same time, she was very nice and helped me along quite a bit. She was an awesome lady and did a lot for the sport. It makes me very happy to win the grand prix with her name attached to it. Her entire family has been instrumental to the horse park and this whole facility for decades now.”

“Todd was one of my mom’s bad boys and she loved him,” said Renie Murphy, daughter of Mary Rena Murphy. “He’s been trying for 17 years since she died to win this grand prix so the family is really happy. It’s happy and sad, but we’re glad that Todd won it – for our family.”

Forty-one exhibitors went head-to-head over the challenging 14-fence first round course, designed by Olaf Petersen, where horses and riders were tested to their limits. Only three were able pass the test and jump clear to advance to the jump-off.

Minikus and Quality Girl, owned by the Quality Group, were nineteenth in the order-of-go and the first to jump clear.

“Tonight this was a proper course,” said Minikus. “You had the time tight and some of those lines were very sophisticated. The combination rode scopey, and I think it ended up being a great class for the crowd.”

Shane Sweetnam (IRL) piloted Chaqui Z, owned by Spy Coast Farm, to a faultless effort five rounds later to challenge Minikus in a jump-off.

“The course was jumping difficult, but I got to watch a few so I had a plan,” said Sweetnam. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be inside the time because there weren’t so many options, but he can turn very tight. He jumped really well. I thought he was a little fresh tonight, maybe fresher than normal, but he still jumped very well.

“Olaf did a great job,” continued Sweetnam. “Time definitely played a factor and then you had a few tricky options. The lines got very tight coming home. I think the course tripped up people everywhere, but it was definitely a difficult last line.”

It looked as if the two would go head-to-head for the top prize once again, after Sweetnam already placed second to Minikus in Thursday’s $35,000 Welcome Speed CSI3* with Cyklon 1083, but Daniela Stransky (VEN) added herself to the good list as the last contenders in the first round aboard Stransky’s Mission Farms’ HH Donnatella.

“I just wanted to take it jump by jump,” said Stransky. “It’s my first big class on her; I really wanted to take it slow, jump by jump and just have a nice, cool head – no emotions. It really paid off – every single ounce of effort this whole weekend. I love that mare, and she loves me, thank God!”

Minikus and Quality Girl entered the ring once again as the first to tackle the jump-off course. They set the pace for Sweetnam and Stransky, producing another double-clear round, in 40.70 seconds.

Sweetnam and Chaqui Z tried their luck next but pulled an unfortunate rail to earn them a 4-fault jump-off finish in 43.92 seconds, which would garner them second place honors.

“Luckily, or unfortunately, I got to see Todd go so I knew I really had to go,” said Sweetnam. “I think I did one less up the first line and then the second line it made me very flat and then that flattened the plank. I could maybe try all day to beat Todd’s time because that mare is very, very fast and he did everything right. He did a great job.”

“I was nineteenth in the original order and no one had gone clear,” said Minikus. “It rode tricky and, between her and me, we’re not short of experience. She went great and Shane is a very fast rider so I really thought I needed to go in the first part of that jump-off and put enough pressure on Shane. He tried to do the leave-out and got his horse undone just a little bit and had the plank down so it worked out for us.”

It was all up to Stransky to catch Minikus. However, the new pair could not match the seasoned partnership of Minikus and Quality Girl. They finished with a 4-fault effort in 44.66 seconds, claiming a very respectable third place.

“She’s a very new horse for me,” said Stransky. “I’ve had her for less than a year. This is my third grand prix on her ever – in my life, actually. I could not have been happier. I actually went against my favorite rider Todd Minikus, which is kind of funny, and I don’t like him anymore because he beat me. I’m beyond happy and – just wow!”

After winning both the $35,000 Welcome Speed CSI3* and the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*, Minikus and Quality Girl wrap up a phenomenal Kentucky Spring Classic with their third win in a row.

“My mare was awesome this week,” said Minikus. “I was in Europe for the past couple of weeks and I haven’t really ridden her since the Ocala million. For a couple of months, I really didn’t ride her. I’ve got to thank my wife, Amanda, who was very diligent at home working her and giving her a couple of schools before we came here to the horse show.”

Next week Minikus heads back to Europe, where he will represent the U.S. next at CSIO5* St. Gallen in Switzerland along with teammates Lucy Davis, Margie Engle, Lauren Hough and Reed Kessler as he continues to compete for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team.

However, he will return to the U.S. in June to compete Quality Girl in the $380,000 Tryon Grand Prix CSI5*.

Aaron Vale Wins $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby

Hunter riders braved the rain Saturday in the Stonelea Ring to compete in the second leg of the $40,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series. Aaron Vale and Madewell were on top in the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby, followed by last week’s winner Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco in second place and Ally Marrinan and At Last rounding out the top three.

Aaron Vale and Madewell
Aaron Vale and Madewell

The $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby is part of the $40,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series, which is returning for the fifth year in a row at the Kentucky Horse Park. The five-part series awards a $15,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Bonus presented at the conclusion of the series.

Vale took the lead in the first round on Madewell, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, with a score of 90, taking all four high options on the Bobby Murphy-designed course.

“Last week I only took three high options,” Vale explained. “One option was ridiculously high last week so I skipped that. This week all the options were doable. It was just a nice, smooth course in spite of the weather. He was really settled and a bit more relaxed than last week so I was able to ride him around pretty smoothly. It was good fun.”

Vale returned in the handy round, again taking all four high options, scoring an 87.5 and a cumulative score of 177.5.

“My handy round plan was to take the inside turns, jump the high options and try not to get too greedy where you make a mistake,” Vale said. “I have to watch that. I want to get aggressive – I want to go fast. You have to just keep your patience, make the turns, be smooth and not try to overdo it.”

The derby course challenged horses and riders today even on fences that, at first glance, seemed inviting.

“It was kind of a hard turn to the brush on the end,” Vale said. “That was kind of tricky in both rounds. Even the first round horses didn’t jump this option fence really well. You’d think they would because it’s all brush and solid, but for whatever reason a few of them jumped a bit out of shape. Just being patient to that jump and making sure you got a distance so the horse didn’t make a mistake was important.”

Geoffrey Hesslink won last week’s $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard Rookie, and he was the series’ leader coming into this week’s class with Esco, an 8-year-old Rhinelander gelding. Hesslink posted a score of 81 in the first round, taking all four of the handy options.

“I went second in the order and it was raining so I was a little conservative in round one,” Hesslink said.

Hesslink and Esco returned in the handy round to earn the score of 89, taking all four handy options again.

“For the handy course I thought he was on it,” Hesslink said. “I thought he executed it perfectly, and he did everything I asked him. We ended up second, and he was really good today. The rain didn’t bother him at all; I think it bothered me more than him.”

Hesslink was enthusiastic about continuing to compete in the $40,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series throughout the rest of the summer.

“That’s one of my goals for this year,” Hesslink said. “It wasn’t one that I was thinking, but after last week and this week, it is. I think it’s a great class and they do a great job with it so I’m pretty sure I’m going to continue with it because we are going to be here for all of the summer shows.”

Vale echoed Hesslink’s sentiments.

“Anything that has a bonus is nice,” said Vale. “Now we have more reasons to try to put Kentucky Horse Shows on our summer schedule because the Hallway shows are going to be the same shows that have the Hagyard classes, and I’m doing well in both of them.”

The Kentucky Spring Classic, running through May 22, features a FEI CSI3* rating. The featured national classes will be the $50,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix, which counts towards the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Ranking List, and the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, May 22, in the Rolex Stadium.

EQSportsNet will be streaming live webcasts throughout the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows. EQSportsNet Full Access subscribers can watch all rounds of the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows series on demand at www.eqsports.net.

For more information on Kentucky Horse Shows LLC and the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Vale Leads Hagyard Challenge Series, Hesslink Tops Hallway Feeds Standings

Aaron Vale and Quidam’s Good Luck.

Lexington, Ky. – May 16, 2016 – Aaron Vale has taken the early lead in the 2016 Hagyard Challenge Series by claiming the second and third place positions during Thursday’s $34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*. Vale, who has been competing at the Kentucky Horse Shows for 28 years, rode Quidam’s Good Luck and Finou 4 to double-clear rounds, finishing just shy of the winner, Pablo Barrios on ASD Farfala. The Kentucky Spring Horse Show also featured the lead-off event for the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series, where Geoffrey Hesslink and Rookie led the victory gallop, giving him the lead in the standings.

In the Hagyard Challenge Series, Pablo Barrios of Venezuela is holding the second place position in the standings after claiming the victory on Thursday aboard ASD Farfala, and is just 10 points behind Vale. Victoria Colvin is currently ranked third in the standings after she went double-clear with Austria 2 to earn fourth place honors.

The Hagyard Challenge Series consists of seven grand prix classes to be held during the 2016 show series at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the final event, a cash prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series as well as a $10,000 prize for the reserve champion.

The series concludes with the $65,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic held during the Kentucky National Horse Show. Following that exciting competition, the winner of the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus will be announced and presented with the cash prize by the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. New this year is the $200 Best Turned Out award, sponsored by Bob Mickler’s, which will go to a well-deserving groom following each grand prix. In addition, a Hagyard’s Handsomest Hound contest will also be held at each grand prix, sponsored by MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets.

Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is one of the oldest and largest equine veterinary practices in the world. Founded in 1876, the institute offers a staff with qualifications unparalleled by any single non-university veterinary group in the equine industry, and Hagyard veterinarians have dedicated themselves to the health and well-being of the horse.

The facility at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute offers 13 digital radiology systems, 1.5 Tesla Siemens MRI, nuclear scintigraphy, an on-site laboratory, an on-site pharmacy, full medical and surgical services, 24-hour emergency services and hyperbaric medicine. The practice has performed veterinary medicine for more than 137 years and is currently composed of over 50 experienced veterinarians, with 13 board certifications in specialty areas of medicine, surgery and theriogenology.

For more information on the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, please visit www.hagyard.com.

Several generous sponsors have helped make this exciting series event happen. These gracious supporters include title sponsor MWI Animal Health and presenting sponsor Zoetis as well as Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC, Hallway Feeds, Audi of Lexington, Pike & Preston, Sallee Horse Vans and Hagyard Pharmacy. Additional sponsors include Equine Therapy and FooteWorks.

The Kentucky Spring Horse Show concluded on Sunday, May 15, and one of the highlight events was the kick-off of the 2016 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series. Hesslink currently holds the lead in the standings with his winning effort aboard Rookie as well as the third place spot on Esco. Douglas Boyd, who placed second with Calido’s Son, and Aaron Vale, who picked up the third place award with Madewell, follow Hesslink closely in the rankings.

The five-part series will feature a $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby throughout the spring and summer, and at the conclusion of the series the Leading Rider Bonus will be presented.  The $15,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Bonus will award a $10,000 cash prize to the professional rider accumulating the most points in the five classes that make up the 2016 Hallway Feeds series. The series-leading amateur and junior riders accumulating the most points will each receive a $2,500 cash prize. Riders will receive points only on their highest placed horse in each of the classes. The awards will be presented at the conclusion of the Hallway Feeds class at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show on August 21.

Hallway Feeds’ close proximity to the Kentucky Horse Park provides ample opportunity to utilize the freshest feed, manufactured with time-honored commitments to high standards of quality and the latest scientific advancements. Combining a premium nutrition package with a professional level of dedication in horsemen and women provides equine athletes with the formula for success.

For more information on Hallway Feeds, please visit www.hallwayfeeds.com.

The Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series would not be possible without many generous sponsors including Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Fenwick Equestrian Products, EquiVision, Inc., Caddel Equine Therapy Center, Bauer Hay & Straw, Alfagreen Supreme, Trouw Nutrition, The Andersons, Mark Fischer Inc., Double S Liquid Feed Services, Inc., Agri-Business Insurance Services and Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher.

The Kentucky Spring Classic held May 18-22 will also feature a FEI CSI3* rating. The $35,000 Welcome Speed will be held on Wednesday, followed by the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on Thursday, as riders try to accumulate valuable points for the Hagyard Leading Rider Bonus. On Saturday, May 21, riders will compete under the lights in the Rolex Stadium during the $130,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix. Once again all three FEI classes will count for the Longines Ranking List and the Thursday and Saturday classes will also count for the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Ranking List. In addition, the featured national classes will be the $50,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix, which counts towards the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Ranking List, and the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, May 22, in the Rolex Stadium. The $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby will be held in the Stonelea Ring on Saturday, May 21.

EQSportsNet will be streaming live webcasts of the $130,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3* during the Kentucky Spring Classic on Saturday, May 21. EQSportsNet Full Access subscribers can also watch all rounds of the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows series on demand at www.eqsports.net.

For more information on Kentucky Horse Shows LLC and the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Hunters Go Big in the Final Week of the Ocala Winter Circuit

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Aaron Vale and Dress Balou.

Ocala, FL (March 29, 2016): Riders vied for the top spot and a slice of the prize purse in the 2016 Ocala Winter Circuit’s last qualifying opportunities for the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix and the $250,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Finals at the HITS Championship in September in Saugerties, New York.

Aaron Vale and Dress Balou score another big win in the $25,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

Devoucoux has sponsored a Hunter Prix nearly every week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit and Week X’s Devoucoux Hunter Prix featured a $25,000 prize purse held in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida scored a trifecta by collecting first, second and third place finishes, adding to his already impressive resume. He earned the win on Don Stewart’s Dress Balou, a two time winner of the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final at HITS Saugerties, for which the Devoucoux Hunter Prix are qualifiers.

Thirty-nine competitors had the opportunity to compete over the first round course of twelve fences designed by Tim Hott from Cumming, Iowa.

“The course was a traditional hunter course in a big ring, where the jumps were spread out with some long bending lines, and just a few lines with related distances,” said Vale in regard to the course. “There was a lot of additional greenery, which was nice to impress the horses a bit this late in the circuit.”

The top twelve riders returned for a second round with scores ranging from 80.5 to 89 from their first rounds carrying over to their second.

Vale and Dress Balou, owned by Don Stewart, had the high score of 89 from the first round and returned as the final competitor in the second round. They improved upon their first round, scoring a 92 for a total of 181 for the win.

“Dress Balou is seven this year, and he has shown a few times this season,” said Vale of his winning horse. “He won the [$10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix in Week IV] and I don’t think we’ve shown him since then. He really suits these big arenas where he can just pick up a rhythm and he jumps really well.”

Vale also had the second highest score in round one aboard Madewell, owned by the Aberdeen Ventures. His score of 87 in the first round and 89 in the second round, combined for a total of 176 to take second place.

“My assistant showed Madewell last year in the pre-greens, and I took over the ride this season and have been doing him in the Hunter Prix,” said Vale.  “He has had a couple weeks where he was really good in the first round then had an unlucky rail or something in the second, so this is a really impressive ribbon to be just behind Dress Balou, the two time Finals winner.”

Vale garnered the third place prize with Spalding, owned by Don Stewart and Brooke Ventos.

“I’ve never sat on him before this class, Don just threw me up on him,” said Vale of Spalding. In a testament to Vale’s skill, his first round score with his new mount of 84.5 combined with a second round score of 86 gave him a total of 170.5 to take third place.

Harold Chopping from Southern Pines, North Carolina, riding Caramo, owned by Caroline Russell Howe, scored an 86 in round one, but Caramo uncharacteristically spooked in round 2 and his score of 81.5 dropped him to sixth place overall with a total score of 167.5.

Cassandre Kahle of Langley, British Columbia, riding Diario for Redfield Farm, improved upon her first round score of 82.5 with an 87 in the second round to move into fourth place overall with a 169.5.

Skyler Fields and Echo win the $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Skyler Fields of Wellesly, Massachusetts put in two consistent rounds with her horse Echo to win the $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix over courses designed by Manuel Esparza of Mexico. Twelve returned for the second round with scores ranging from 75 to 88, but the second round proved to be the deciding factor as placings shuffled based on second round scores.

(C) ESI Photography. Skyler Fields and Echo
(C) ESI Photography. Skyler Fields and Echo

Fields returned for the second round in the temporary fourth position with an 84.5, but her consistency in the second round earned her an 85.5 for an overall total of 170 for the win. Fields also qualified her second horse, earning seventh place with Cornet’s Finale with a two round total of 158.

“I left out a stride with my other horse in the second round so I wanted to be sure I didn’t do that with Echo. We are trying to qualify for the Finals in Saugerties and have been placing in the top three consistently, but today was the last week and I really wanted to win.”

Raegan Landrum from Winter Park, Florida, riding Contano, returned in fifth position with an 84, improving to an 85 in the second round to earn second place with an overall total of 169, just a point behind Fields.

Allison Joyce from Medway, Massachusetts, riding Chestnut Hill, owned by Marissa Dolan, came back in third place with an 85 and scored an 83 for in the second round to stay third overall with a 168 total score.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Ocala Winter Circuit Continues with $2,500 Brook Ledge Welcome and $25k SmartPak Grand Prix

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Aaron Vale and Carlo.

Ocala, FL (March 5, 2016): Week VII of the Ocala Winter Circuit kicked off with the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome and the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix.

$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome

Williston’s own Aaron Vale, riding Carlo, owned by Amatoville Enterprises, topped the leaderboard in Wednesday’s $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome with a double clear round in a blazing fast 33.220 seconds. Course designer Bernardo Cabral from Lisbon, Portugal challenged the thirty-three competitors with a technical course set at 1.40 meters.

Only six were able to jump clean in the first round to advance to the jump-off. A broken line from the mid-course vertical to back to back oxers in the combination at 10A-B proved difficult for many and caused the majority of rails in the first round. The six that mastered the first-round all proved their skill when all jumped double-clear to contend for the victory.

First to jump clean was Allen Nabors of Ocala, Florida, riding Caesar 322, owned by Christi Israel. They galloped the first line in six strides, did a tight rollback to the tall vertical and made to the inside turn to the combination, crossing the timers in 35.184, which held the lead through most of the class.

“He’s an amazing horse,” said Nabors. “He is just so scopey and jumps so hard; it takes all the leg I have just to hang on to him. I’d really like to thank the Israels for letting me ride him.”

Immediately following Nabors was Cara Raether Carey of North Palm Beach, Florida, aboard Cedric, owned by Trelawny Farm. The bay jumped double clear in 36.647 to slip in behind Nabors.

Nine trips passed before another pair advanced to the jump off, until Lincoln Russell of Columbus, North Carolina jumped clear on Unex Timo IV, owned by Thinkslikeahorse of Williston, Florida. He clocked in at 37.446 for sixth place.

Sulu Rose Reed from Mechanicsville, Virginia, riding Denali for Paula Pell, piloted the big chestnut to a double clear in 37.251 for fifth. Nabors anxiously watched from the sidelines, still holding the Great American Time to Beat.

Going twenty-sixth in the order, David Beisel of Goshen, Ohio jumped a double clear on Call Me Hannes, owned by the Harlow Investment Enterprises. The big grey covered so much ground with every stride and stopped the clock in 34.448 to steal the lead from Nabors.

After several top-five finishes in the Brookledge open this circuit, Vale and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Carlo, would not be denied the blue today. They made all the inside turns and kept up the pace throughout, whipping through the timers in 33.220 for the win, which dropped Beisel to second and Nabors to third.

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

Hot off a trifecta in Ocala Week VI, winning the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, the $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, and the $5,000 NAL Junior/Amateur-Owner, Haley Waters of Sparr, Florida, garnered the victory in the Ocala Week VII $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. Waters has only shown newly-acquired Galous in three classes of the Ocala Winter Circuit, but her plan to move up to the Grand Prix level this week was a smashing success as she garnered the win by a two-second margin.

(C) ESI Photography. Hayley Waters and Galous
(C) ESI Photography. Hayley Waters and Galous

Chuck and Dana Waters purchased the 14-year-old Galous for Hayley to show in the Grand Prix, and after winning last Sunday’s $7,500 U Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.40m Classic, she felt ready to move up.

The competition was fierce as thirty-three competitors attacked the 1.50-meter course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral of Portugal. Thirteen jumped clean to advance to the jump-off where the shortened course included a gallop from the first fence to the second in either 8 or 9 strides, a choice of routes to a vertical to vertical combination, a rollback mid-course, and a gallop to finish over two oxers in either 8 or 9 strides as well.

Six horses jumped clear in the jump-off to take the top six placings. First was Lauren Hester of Lexington, Kentucky on Arly, owned by Hester Equestrian LLC. They jumped the first line in nine strides, executed neat turns and did eight strides to the final oxer to finish in 43.419.

Next up was Blue Moon 22, owned by Full Circle Farm, with David Jennings of Franklin, Tennessee in the irons. They opted for eight strides in the opening line, leaving out a stride to the final oxer to cross the timers in 41.905 to take over the lead. The round would eventually earn them third place.

Following Jennings was Manuel Torres of Waterford, Virginia riding Christofolini H, owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro. Winners of the Brook Ledge Open Welcome in Week II, Torres and Christofolini H threw caution to the wind, taking to the course at an all-out gallop. They raced through the timers in 39.192, stealing the short-lived lead from Jenkins to set a new Great American Time to Beat.

Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas, riding MTM Reve Du Paradis, found a way to better that time, finishing in 38.310, but an unfortunate rail led to the eventual seventh place. Amanda Flint of Long Valley, New Jersey, riding Coverboy, owned by The Coverboy Group, They crossed the timers fault-free in 46.179 to finish sixth.

Hayley Waters had a plan to take lead from Torres, and that called for a slicing inside turn on the approach to the final two oxers.

When Waters stepped into the ring, she made sure her horse knew her plan too. “Galous really focuses on the jumps and looks to see where he is going next, so I sort of walked through the turn as I went in for the jump-off.” The plan worked and Waters’ time of 37.342 edged out Torres to second place. The round caught the attention of several riders and trainers who tipped their hats to show their respect for a terrific ride.

Waters gushed about her horse after the class. “He also let me gallop right up to the base of the combination and balanced himself to jump it clean; he’s a very experienced horse.”

Seven more riders tackled the shortened course, but only one jumped without faults. Billie De Rouet of Bromont, Quebec, riding her own Bonaparte VP Wisbec, added a clean round in 42.699 to take fourth place.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Marilyn Little Stacks $5,000 FEI Welcome Stake Leaderboard at HITS Ocala

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Marilyn Little and Venus.

OCALA, FL (February 20, 2016): Day one of the FEI CSIO4* week at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida, ended on a high note for Marilyn Little, of Frederick, Maryland, who took home first place with Venus, owned by Raylyn Farms, Inc. and third place with Clear Water owned by Karen O’Connor in the FEI Welcome Stake. Excitement for Friday’s main event, the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup CSIO4*, presented by Edge Brewing Barcelona, filled the air as competition got underway.

Forty-two riders hailing from across the globe tested the 1.40m speed course set by Ireland’s Alan Wade. First in the order and with determination fueling their game, Little and her bay mount Venus dominated the course from the moment they stepped foot inside the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. Fiercely attempting each obstacle, the pair zipped through the course to clock in clear, and in a time of 59.43.

“It was a really fast course, and the footing was great. Alan Wade did a good job building a nice introductory course and there were a lot of people in the class – many who were prepping for what’s to come later in the week, and some really taking a shot,” said Little. “I had to go first in the class so I knew I had some fast ones coming behind me, especially Andy Kocher. True to form, he was very quick, but Venus is a speed racer.”

Seventh in the order, Kevin Babington, of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, and his own Mark Q followed Little’s lead with a crisp, clean round, but were just over the 79 second time allowed, clocking in at 81.86 for one time fault.

Babington remained in second until the twelfth entry, Diego Jose Muyshondt, riding for El Salvador, and Val d’lsere, owned by Paulo Santana, cleared the course in 80.47 for one time fault and the second-place spot.

Muyshondt held his own until known speedster and a familiar name in the HITS Ocala winner’s circle this year, Andrew Kocher, of Lake St Louis, Missouri, appeared at the in-gate. Kocher, aboard Ciana, owned by Eagle Valley Partners, LLC, delivered a quick round in a time of 61.58, moving him up the leaderboard to second.

Little, piloting her second of two entries, Clear Water, was twenty-fourth in the order and she had her eye on the prize again. They sailed through the course for a clear round finishing with a time of 62.18, just one second behind Kocher for third.

Thomas Feigel, of Pompano Beach, Florida, and Analyze This were twenty-sixth and ready to chase the clock. Zipping through the course with precision and finishing clean with a time of 73.74 to secure the fourth-place finish.

Anchoring the order of go, Paulo Sergio Mateo Santana Filho of Wellington, Florida and his own Talubet was the fifth and final rider to give a clean round. Finishing in a time of 77.59, Filho took home fifth place.

Hometown Hero Claims the Victory in the $34,600 FEI Thursday Prix at HITS Ocala

The $34,600 FEI Thursday Prix went off without a hitch on Thursday as an impressive field of 76 riders and horses challenged the course set by course designer Alan Wade, of Tipperary, Ireland. Not only were competitors vying for a prestigious FEI victory as the prelude to the 2016 Nations Cup at HITS Post Time Farm on Friday, but the class also served as a qualifying opportunity for the $100,000 City of Ocala Grand Prix on Sunday, February 21.

(C) ESI Photography. Aaron Vale and Finou
(C) ESI Photography. Aaron Vale and Finou

Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida has been a force to be reckoned this Circuit. With two Grand Prix victories and multiple top-five finishes already under his belt this circuit, the Hometown Hero of Ocala Show Jumping did not disappoint, winning the race against the clock. “My goal was to be fast everywhere,” said Vale. “You had to be; the jump-off just got quicker and quicker, and it was a great class.” Indeed, all five top finishers jumped double-clear out of the 17 in the jump-off, and the time to beat seemed to get faster with every round.

The jump-off was designed around three lines that allowed riders to gallop and utilize their speed skills. Excitement burst in the stands as riders galloped to the in-and-out before turning to the last line which could be done in seven or eight strides, but where many a heartbreak came as rails fell and dashed the hopes of would-be winners. Of the top five in the jump-off, the first to return Ali Wolff and Brianda, co-owned with John Wolff. They were the first to finish fault-free taking the lead as they crossed the timers in a brisk 39.77 seconds.

Lisa Goldman of Hawthorne Woods, Illinois, also a multiple Grand Prix winner this circuit, entered the ring a few trips later aboard Centurion B, owned by Goldman’s mother and trainer Mary Goldman. Hunting for another victory, Goldman attacked the course, angling fences and galloping across the ring to the final in-and-out before the homestretch line. They crossed the marker in 38.57 to take the lead but the ensuing rounds would only get faster.

Mexico’s Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado and Tino la Chapelle, owned by IIan Ferder, galloped to the in and out, taking a tight turn before the final line to shave time off the clock and putting in a clear 37.25-second round to clock in almost a full second ahead of Goldman to top the leaderboard as the Mexican Team cheered in enthusiasm.

Vale and Finou 4, owned by Thinkslikeahorse and Donald Stewart, checked back in to the ring and the crowd was electric and chomping at the bit as Vale took up a gallop to the first fence.

“I didn’t get to watch Zendajas Salgado, but I knew if he had been faster than Lisa [Goldman], I had to be really, really fast if I was going to win.”

Vale took advantage of his horse’s big stride, leaving out strides in all three lines. “It felt like we were flying in that last gallop towards the in-and-out. I just kept going until I saw the spot where I could relax and my horse just softened and mentally slowed down to jump up quite nicely.”

Vale kept the momentum going to the last line, doing the seven strides, edging out Zendejas Salgado just a tenth of second on 37.01 to take the lead.

Many valiant efforts followed Vale, including Christian Heineking and AJE Cluny, with a heartbreaking rail at the final fence for ninth place and Molly Ashe, jumping clear to round out the top five with a time of 40.97.

The deal was sealed and Vale took home the win putting Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado and Tino la Chapelle in second place and Lisa Goldman and Centurion B in third.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Hunters Converge at HITS Post Time Farm to Contend for the Money and an Elite Victory

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Aaron Vale and Dress Balou.

Ocala, FL (February 15, 2016): The weekend started off right for hunter exhibitors in Week IV of the Ocala Winter Circuit with Saturday’s Devoucoux Hunter Prix, with a bigger prize purse of $10,000, and the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix.

$10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

Aaron Vale has been on fire in the Ocala Horse Properties Grand Prix Stadium, and on Saturday, he returned to claim the throne in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, a qualifying opportunity for the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at the HITS Championship in September 2016. The Texas native, aboard Dress Balou, owned by Donald Stewart, rocked the class with a first-round score of 88 and a second-round score of 93 to take home the title with a total of 181, proving they are ready defend their crown as two-time champions in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final.

Behind Vale was Week III’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix winner Daniel Geitner of Aiken, South Carolina riding Sky Pilot, owned by Allison Mills. They turned out the highest score in the first round with a 91, combined with an 84 in the second, totaling 175 for second place.

Third went to Bedminster, New Jersey equestrian Amanda Steege aboard Calvary, owned by Jessica Tindley. They earned scores of 81 and 88, respectively, for a total of 169. The effort marked Steege’s second time placing in the top three after garnering second place in Ocala Week III’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.

Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina and Caramo, owned by Caroline Russel Howe, came in fourth place. Rounding out the top five was Cassandra Kahle and Redfield Farm’s Chicago.

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Ocala’s fourth qualifying opportunity for the $250,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Final at the HITS Championship in September 2016, got underway on Saturday.

The team to beat was Acido 7 and rider and owner Elizabeth Bailey, of Roanoke, Virginia, as they garnered the highest scoring trip of both rounds. They earned a first-round score of 85, improving to a second-round score of 87 for a total of 172 for the coveted, blue ribbon.

Boston equestrian Corinne Milbury and Parker, owned by Saddle Ridge LLC, came in behind Bailey with a first-round score of 78.5, making a comeback with a second-round score of 82, earning second place with a total of 162.5.

Third place was awarded to Reveille Z, owned and ridden by Sydney DeGrazia from Rochester, New York. A score of 79 in the first round combined with an 80 in the second gave them a total of 159.

Fourth place went to St. Petersburg, Florida equestrian Emma Witham and Zenith UHS, owned by 2VR Showjumpers. Elizabeth Traband of Round Hill, Virginia and her mount, Huh, claimed fifth.

Hunter exhibitors have plenty of excitement ahead in the coming weeks of the Ocala Winter Circuit. The biggest hunter week of the winter, Week VI, will feature a plethora of exclusive events: the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the World Championship Hunter Rider Week and the debut of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Zone 4 Handy Hunter Classic to the Ocala Masters (Week VI).

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Ocala Winter Circuit Week III Finished with Thrilling Battle for the Blue in $50k HITS Grand Prix

Aaron Vale and Quidam’s Good Luck.

Ocala, FL (February 8, 2016): The Sunday Grand Prix at HITS Ocala get better and better. The competition between Lisa Goldman of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois and hometown hero Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida is heating up and the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix had the crowd screaming for their favorite pick to win. There was no shortage of excitement as Andrew Kocher of Lake St. Louis, Missouri had the crowd on its feet to the final fence.

In a thrilling jump-off, Vale and Quidam’s Good Luck, owned by Troy Glaus, wowed the crowd as they squeaked by Goldman, riding Mary Goldman’s Centurion B, by two-tenths of a second for the win. Vale also finished third on Finou 4, a horse he co-owns with Don Stewart. Andrew Kocher on his own Le Conte placed fourth and Goldman was back again in the top five with her own Rocs to Riches for fifth place.

Course designer Martin Otto, of Muenster, Germany, set a demanding track of sixteen efforts set at 1.55 meters for the 35 starters. Time was a factor, and even with an adjusted time allowed of 81 seconds, 10 riders had time faults in the first round. Eight had clear rounds, including all three of Vale’s rides, and both of Goldman’s mounts.

First to test the shortened course was Catuso, owned by Blue Gate Farm, LLC and ridden by Denise Wilson of Dousman, Wisconsin. Catuso jumped in beautiful form and took no risks, opting for a fault-free, 48.792. Next up was Vale riding Finou 4. Vale navigated the big-strided Hanoverian through a tight turn from the first to the second fence, and an inside turn to the Brook Ledge fence, to cut eight full seconds off Wilson’s time, setting the Great American Time to Beat of 40.189 seconds.

Amanda Flint of Long Valley, New Jersey and VDL Wittinger were up next but had a rail at the combination after making a very tight turn. They finished with four faults in a time of 42.645 seconds, ultimately earning them seventh place.

Goldman moved up in the order while Vale changed horses and threw down the gauntlet on the 14-year-old Centurion B, owned by her mother and trainer Mary Goldman. They left out a stride in the long gallop across the ring to the last fence, finishing in an astonishing 38.993 seconds for the lead.

Vale returned on his second horse, Spirit of Alena, owned by his Thinkslikeahorse, but took back after a rail, finishing in 44.778 for eighth. Goldman followed on her youngster, Rocs to Riches, to finish clean in 41.780 seconds for fifth place. Two remained to go, with Goldman and Centurion B still hanging on to the lead in 38.993 seconds.

Vale returned with his third ride in the jump-off, Quidam’s Good Luck. “This is a quick footed horse and I went in with the idea that I had nothing to lose. I’ve ridden some fast classes but that was a lot of speed,” Vale said, referring to Goldman’s all-out time. “I just kept kicking and went like I was getting chased.” His turn from the first to the second fence in six strides might have been the difference and he finished in 38.704 to take the lead.

“In hindsight, if I had gotten the six strides from 1 to 2 on my first horse [Finou 4], he would have been faster. It felt like a smooth pretty ride and really my most fun of the day,” Vale said.

Andrew Kocher and Le Conte stepped in as the final horse to contest the jump-off. In what can only be described as a flat out gallop he made a great turn from 1 to 2 and left out as many as 3 strides to fence 3, but missed the inside turn to the Brook Ledge fence. Trying to make up the time, he continued at his breakneck pace to the last fence, to finish clear in 40.662 for third place.

In a roundup of the class, Vale said the speed displayed by the top three as they tried to catch each other was outrageous. “My third horse – that was just crazy! But it worked. It was a great class for the crowd to watch.”

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Ocala Winter Circuit II Continues with $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome and $25k SmartPak Grand Prix

(C) ESI Photography. Manuel Torres and Christofolini H.

Ocala, FL (January 29, 2016): The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit continued with the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome on Wednesday, January 27, and the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Thursday, January 28.

$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
Jumpers attacked the 1.40-meter course set by course designer, Oscar Soberon of Dallas, Texas, for the $2500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome in Week II of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Manuel Torres, of Waterford, Virginia, riding Christofolini H, owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro, was the first of eleven riders to jump the first round clean. He set the course on fire in the jump-off with a time of 35.784 seconds. Matthias Hollberg of Middleburg, Virginia and Aletta, owned by Olympic Dreams LLC, was second-place in 35.921 seconds, and speedster Lisa Goldman of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, on her own Hindsight, was third in 37.011.

The 13-effort course got the better of the first five to attempt it, with seven different fences collecting faults. As the first to attempt the jump-off, Torres took no prisoners with a furious pace, leaving out a stride in the bending line from the narrow at to the combination, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 35.784 seconds.

Next to achieve a double-clear was Goldman on Hindsight. The grey jumped so high that his time in the air cost him valuable seconds and he completed the shortened course in 37.011 to finish third.

Four more were able to go double-clear, including David Beisel of Goshen, Ohio, riding Redfield Farm’s Alastar, the first of his four rides, finishing in fifth place. Hollberg and Aletta flew to the finish line but were not able to catch Torres, finishing second in 35.921 seconds.

Mattias Tromp of North Salem, New York jumped a tidy double-clear on Bloom Z, owned by Beyaert Farm Inc., to finish fourth in 38.093. Harold Chopping from Southern Pines, North Carolina, riding Kendra Bullington’s chestnut Basje, was the final double-clear, finishing sixth in 38.839 seconds.

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida and Quidam’s Good Luck, owned by Troy Glaus, had more than just luck in Thursday’s $25,000 Smart Pak Grand Prix held in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida. Vale skillfully chose to leave out strides on the shortened course and in doing so, he prevailed over Lisa Goldman of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois on Morocco by more than a full second, and by more than 3 seconds over third-place finisher Brandie Holloway from Topeka, Kansas and Lucky Strike, owned by Hays Investment Corp.

Twenty-two participants jumped for a chance at the winner’s share of prize money over a course set at 1.50 meters by Mexico native course designer, Oscar Soberon. Six horses had fault-free first rounds, starting off with Goldman and Morocco, the winner of last Sunday’s $50,000 Tuffrider/Equine Couture Grand Prix.

Ten more tried, but failed to negotiate the track which crisscrossed the ring and featured a triple combination across the center. Next to go clear were Holloway and Lucky Strike. Last week’s SmartPak winner Catungee, owned and ridden by Christophe Schroder, from Andersonville, Tennessee, followed with another clear.

Goldman returned on her second mount, Rocs to Riches, to go clean and to make it four for the jump-off. Marilyn Little of Frederick, Maryland, team and individual Gold Medalist in Three Day Eventing at the 2015 Pan Am Games, made it five, riding Raylyn Farms’ Corona 93, and Vale and Quidam’s Good Luck, last to go in the first round, made it six.

First to return to the jump-off was Goldman and Morocco. Goldman chose to do eight strides up the first line so she could turn a dime to fence 3 and took an extra pull on the reins at the last fence to garner a clean round in 37.085 seconds. The Great American Time to Beat held up as Holloway and Lucky Strike followed.

Choosing to leave out a stride in the first line, Holloway looked like she might get it done, but she lost time in the turn after the second fence and stopped the clock in a fault-free 39.327 seconds for third. Schroeder and Goldman both chose to do the seven strides up the first line and each had four faults at the following vertical with Rocs to Riches clocking in at 39.366 seconds to finish fifth, and Catungee in 41.506 seconds to finish sixth. Little and Corona 93 were clear just behind Holloway’s time to finish fourth in 39.551 seconds.

Returning last to the jump-off, Vale knew just what he needed to do.

“This course is really suited to my horse; I went down in seven strides to the first line, and caught a really short turn back to the vertical, which made the seven to the combination a little wide, but it really kept the momentum going,” said Vale. “Of course it was just a gallop to the last – I really liked the course. It had a couple of odd shaped lines in it which made it so that not everyone was clean. My other two horses didn’t make the jump-off but jumped really well. I thought when I walked the course that my horse would have a good chance to win and I stayed out of his way, so he won.”

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Aaron Vale and Dress Balou Win Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Finals

(C) ESI Photography. Aaron Vale and Dress Balou.

SAUGERTIES, NY (September 9, 2015): Championship Sunday at HITS Saugerties began with the high-energy concluding round of the richest Hunter class in the country, the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. Aaron Vale, of Williston, Florida, and Dress Balou, owned by Donald Stewart, did it again, winning their second consecutive title in the renowned event to secure a reign at the top.

Vale’s game of cat and mouse with Victoria Colvin, riding Dr. Betsee Parker’s Inclusive, ignited in Friday’s first round and continued through Saturday’s second round, going back and forth with the leading scores, and both were guaranteed an appearance in the top 25 on Sunday.

“She [Colvin] was a smidge ahead of us going in there and out of the two preliminary rounds, she beat us once and we beat her once. So we knew she was the one to go after,” said owner Donald Stewart.

Sunday’s round three offered the top 25 competitors a clean slate from their previous scores and the fresh start was the perfect way to impress the judges and move up in the ranks. The class began but it wasn’t until the fourth entry, Patricia Griffith of New York, New York, and Akinda, owned by Hillside Farm LLC, navigated the course set by Rian Beals of Saugerties, New York, that the competition heated up. They were careful in their movements finishing with scores of 85, 86 and 88 for the lead with a total of 259.

The attempts continued throughout the order, but no one could touch Griffith at the top. That was until Adrienne Iverson and Reliance, owned by Brook Run Farm, LLC, strutted into the ring. Steadily they completed the course with scores of 85, 88 and 89.5, totaling 259, and just enough to tie Griffith.

Twenty-fourth in the order, Vale was confident in his craft and led his six year old mount to scores of 89, 91 and 89 for a total of 269 and the lead.

“The course was pretty and the ring is beautiful,” said Vale. “There is a bit of atmosphere with the money at stake and the crowd was into it so you can feel a little bit of electricity out there.”

Colvin was last in the order and she topped the charts with a high total score of 271, the result of a 91, 87 and 93. The top four had one last round to give it their all and either Colvin, Vale, Iverson or Griffith would be crowned victorious.

First in the round four order, Griffith finished her round with a total score of 258, and an overall score of 517. She was followed by Iverson who sailed to a total of 262 and an overall score of 521 to best Griffith by four points.

Spectators grew quiet as Vale entered next and gave his everything in attempt to make up for the three points between him and Colvin after round three. Careful, with just enough presentation to catch the attention of the judge’s panel, he exited the ring as a total score of 268, and a 537 overall, echoed through the show grounds.

Colvin was next and the crowd grew silent again as she met every fence in stride. She piloted her way through the course to earn a total of 264, but it was not enough to top Vale. Her overall score of 535, just 2 points behind Vale, for the red ribbon.

“Going into the last round I kind of opened the stride in the gallops, showed a little more pace. I wanted to show off and catch the judge’s eye a little bit,” said Vale.

Although the win was a true team effort, Vale gave all the credit to his four legged partner, “He made it through four rounds cleanly and the rounds were smooth and consistent. We never really batted an eye. He’s the best jumper in the class so over four rounds that really showed.”

“We saved this horse for a year, to come back here and do this again,” added Stewart. “And with the best rider I could find in the world, and it paid off. You have to be patient and play your cards right.”

Margot Peroni and Orlon Win Platinum Performance $250,000 Hunter Prix Final at HITS Championship

Proving perseverance pays off, and moving up from twenty-fifth place in 2014 to first in 2015, Margot Peroni of Califon, New Jersey, and her own Orlon, emerged triumphant in the four-round Platinum Performance $250,000 Hunter Prix Final, taking home a $75,000 share of the prize purse.

(C) ESI Photography. Margot Peroni and Orlon
(C) ESI Photography. Margot Peroni and Orlon

After Friday’s two preliminary rounds, over a course designed by Rian Beals, the top 25 competitors moved on to Saturday’s two round challenge. All of the riders were hungry for a win, but only the top four would return for one last go at the course.

First of four in the order was Oliva Hellman aboard Sabrina Hellman’s Woodstock and they cruised through the course to receive scores of 85 and 82, for a total of 167 and 333 overall. Next it was Jacquelyn Maggiore’s turn, riding her own Contina. Having received scores in the mid-eighties in the previous rounds, the final round proved to be tricky for them, leaving with scores of 73 and 75 for a round total of 148 and 315 overall, for fourth.
Kimberly Maloomian and Invincible, owned by Ellen Toon, were third in the order and besting the two prior trips, they took the lead with scores of 82 and 87, totaling 169 and 339 overall.

The final trip of the day belonged to Peroni, who didn’t make the final four in 2014 due to Orlon’s green moment. But now, one year later, they were ready to take the final.

“Kimberly was on Invincible and I knew they were going to be hard to beat. She’s an incredible rider and he’s a great horse,” said Peroni. “Going into the last round, I looked at my trainer and we said ‘Whatever happens now is just icing on the cake; we’re going to go have fun.’”

“I saw the end of Kim’s round, and her scores came in and they were good but they weren’t what I know Kim can do, so I knew we had a shot at winning,” she continued.

Peroni gave it her all and delivered more than a smooth round – she gave an exceptional performance for scores of 87 and 87, totaling 171, 343.5 overall and the win.

“I thought that she had a wonderful rhythm and pace going. She never deviated from it. I just thought her horse jumped so well,” said Judge Jimmy Lee.

“This is a dream come true,” she said. “For me, for somebody that tries to make this sport work on a budget, this class is incredible. To have someone offer a class like this, with that much money, is huge. It’s going to make things a lot easier going forward.”

“I like that Tom has kept the traditional judging format which allows the judges really reward the classic, traditional hunter round. I think that is very important,” added Lee.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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