(C) ESI Photography. Kim Farlinger and Charming Force B.
This week is Great American Million week at HITS Ocala, where the best of the best will travel from near and far to compete for the sport’s richest prize purse in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium.
Last Sunday, there was still plenty of competition to witness in the $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix. Canadian equestrian Kim Farlinger took home the win in a thrilling 11-horse jump-off aboard Charming Force B, owned by her own Kim Farlinger Stables Ltd.
Farlinger has ranked consistently among the top finishers at HITS Ocala this season, and each week, she and Charming Force B have climbed up the ranks to snag their blue-ribbon finish. They swooped in for the victory with a time of 40.430, a full two seconds ahead of the field of their peers.
Second place went to Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina. Chopping rode Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington. They are no strangers to the ribbons at HITS Ocala, having won several Grand Prix during the HITS Holiday Series. They stopped the clock fault-free in 42.391 for the second-place prize.
Four more would go double clear to seal their spot in the top ribbons, including a rare tie between two riders who clocked in at the same time down to thousandths of a second: Mattias Tromp and Candice King. Tromp rode Avon, owned by Swede Ventures, LLC, and King piloted Calisto 26, owned by Ross Smith. Their time of 42.543 was just two-tenths of a second behind Chopping for the third-place tie up.
Hometown hero Aaron Vale garnered the final spot in the top five with Bonzini S, owned by Thinkslikeahorse. Their cool, clear round of 42.949 earned them the pink ribbon for the fifth-place prize.
Thermal, CA (March 20, 2017): Dynamite equestrian Mandy Porter, of Encinitas, California, rose to the occasion against a top-notch field of fifty-four riders, in the most popular AIG $1 Million Grand Prix class to date. Porter rode Milano, owned by Abigail Weese, to a thrilling finish as the second-to-last rider in a six-horse jump-off. The starting order included several prior victors of the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Desert Horse Park including 2016, 2015 and 2014 winners: McLain Ward, Charlie Jayne and Ashlee Bond.
“It’s an honor to win this class, coming into this I always hoped that this result would happen,” said Porter after her blue-ribbon victory. “I always try to go into an event like this hoping to do the best that I can – I think it’s great that the ‘West Coast’ won this one.”
New for the 2017 class was a 1.50-meter course height and the Top 20 qualified riders had the opportunity to enter two horses into the class for a second shot at the money. Of the top three, two West Coast riders walked away with the top portions of the prize purse: Porter and second place rider, Tamie Phillips, who rode Cristar, owned by Merle Gardner.
“I want to say thank you to Tom and the HITS staff – I was very pleased with the new [1.50m] course height, it gave me a lot of confidence coming into this class,” said Tamie Phillips in the post-Million press conference. “My horse was just absolutely on fire today. I put down the best round that I could, and almost hung in there, but Mandy just got it in the end. It was a really fun class. I loved it.”
Third place went to Cian O’Connor who has shown tremendous success at HITS Ocala this year in the FEI Nations Cup™ and the $100,000 City of Ocala Grand Prix. The Irish Olympian traveled west to try his luck in the desert for the first time, and his double-clear performance aboard Good Luck, owned by Adena Springs, did not disappoint.
“I’m delighted to be here; it’s my first time to be here and I have to compliment the show organizers for setting the height at a 1.50m this year to really give people a chance to jump in a class like the Million,” said O’Connor. “Everyone jumped very well, as you can see from the line-up, and I’m very happy to be a part of it and to have jumped double clear.”
Every few trips, the six riders that would eventually compete for a slice of the biggest prize purse in show jumping, would punch their ticket to the jump-off with a clear round.
A large spectator crowd filled the grandstand, complete with a sold-out VIP club and thousands viewing a livestream on HITS TV. Competitors brought the heart for their fans as the showdown for the 2017 AIG $1 Million Grand Prix title unfolded. An electric crowd looked on as the top six began their return to the Grand Prix Ring to challenge the jump-off course set by Alan Wade, of Tippery, Ireland.
“A lot of people were worried about dropping the height down to 1.50 meters, Tom [HITS President and CEO] told me there would be six in the jump-off, so I was just doing what I told,” Wade joked. “I believe a lot of riders had some unlucky faults, and sometimes the money offered can be extra pressure, but I keep that out of my mind. I build the course for the people that are here and for the sport – we are lucky to have this amount of prize money in the sport though, so hats off to AIG for supporting that. This was an exciting class and I was very happy to be here.”
“We are very thankful to AIG for their support, they’re a super sponsor – we also have just fantastic clients,” said HITS President and CEO, Tom Struzzieri. “The results, for those who organize events, couldn’t have been better. We have Cian who is a good friend and great competitor, and then my friend McLain Ward, and other riders from the East who travel out to compete with HITS here – it’s great to have that support. However, it’s no coincidence that the West Coast riders, Mandy and Tamie, are sitting up here with us. They rode with us here all winter, and did great. They came out here and had a chance to ride two in the AIG Million and that worked out beautifully; that’s what we wanted to see happen.”
First to return to contest the abbreviated course was O’Connor and Good Luck. They laid down a solid, clear trip right out of the gate, stopping the clock with all of the rails up in 43.986, a time that would hold up through the rest of the jump-off.
Following O’Connor was Germany’s Andre Thieme, also a past HITS $1 Million Grand Prix winner. Thieme piloted Conthendrix through the technical, shortened course.
An unfortunate rail at A of the combination would earn them four faults as they passed the finish in 42.086, a round that would ultimately give them the fourth place prize.
Calgary, Alberta equestrian, Tamie Phillips, has been a force to be reckoned with all season at HITS Coachella. This class was no exception to Phillips’ dynamite skills, as she put down a thrilling ride to step into the temporary lead.
Phillips and her mount, Cristar, powered through the course, taking each fence by storm. The crowd cheered as they galloped home to stop the clock with a fault-free trip in 41.954.
The sun shined down on HITS Desert Horse Park and three riders still had to try their hand at the jump-off course. The anticipation was high in the stands to see if anyone could overcome Phillips’ ride or if the victor had already been crowned.
Uma O’Neill and Clockwise of Greenhill Z were next to step into the ring. Their feet touched the earth with four faults, after also having a rail at the A element of the combination, in 45.664, still good enough to eventually settle them into sixth place.
Following O’Neill were the victors, Mandy Porter aboard Milano. They knew what they had to do to move into the top place on the leaderboard. They put the pedal to the metal and took every chance they could to shave the second off of the clock.
The crowd rose to their feet as they pushed ahead to their eventual winning round. They crossed the timers in 41.600, a few fractions ahead of Phillips to the sound of cheers from the spectators. Milano and Porter also showed success during the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Thermal CSI3* week with a win in the $36,400 Desert Classic win and a $25,000 FEI SmartPak Grand Prix win.
“This horse is just amazing,” Porter said of Milano. “I have a feeling this is just the beginning for him. He definitely hasn’t reached his peak and we are excited to see what the rest of his jumping career holds.”
The last rider to enter the jump-off was France’s Eric Navet, who consistently shows at HITS Coachella and stacks up the ribbons in the Grand Prix. Navet had the final shot at taking the leading round away from Porter. He rode Catypso, owned by Signe Ostby, through the course with skill until a heartbreaking rail at the final fence in the course thwarted their shot at the win. Their round in 43.391 would be good enough for the final spot in the top five.
The sun set over the mountain ridge on HITS Desert Horse Park as a West Coast victor walked away with her well-deserved slice of the Million-dollar pie.
Looking ahead, all industry eyes turn to the East Coast for the second jewel in the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. Will Mandy Porter make it two in a row? Will Cian O’Connor get the luck back on his side for a Million-dollar win in the east? Will Beezie Madden return to claim her second $1 Million Grand Prix victory, or will a new winner be crowed? Only time will tell.
Ocala, FL (March 18, 2017): Week IX at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit continued on Thursday with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium at HITS Post Time Farm.
David Beisel has been quite successful in Grand Prix this season at HITS Ocala, including two wins so far $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, making this week’s victory his third of 2017. Beisel rode Ammeretto, owned by Equine Holdings LLC., to the win in a 12-horse jump-off, where seven would go clear in contingency for the blue.
Beisel would take hold of lead going eighth in the order over the shortened course designed by Anderson Lima of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Beisel also garnered the fourth place ribbon with Call Me Hannes, owned by Harlow investment Enterprises, LLC.
First to claim a clear round in the jump-off was Emanuel Andrade riding Bon Jovi. They clocked in with a fault-free 35.898-second round right out of the gate, and their round would eventually settle them in third place. Andrade would also claim second place in the class aboard Reus De La Nutria with a thrilling ride as the second-to-last in the order.
The next clear round came third in the order with Hyde Moffatt of Canada and Granturo, owned by Western Sales & Development. They valiantly chased Andrade’s temporary lead, stopping the clock in 39.892, which would ultimately settle them into fifth place.
A few rounds would pass before another fault-free trip was delivered by Kelley Robinson, also of Canada, entered with Blue’s Yer Daddy seventh in the order. They snagged a clear round, but their time of 40.349 could not edge out the rest of the pack, putting them in seventh.
Following Robinson were the victors David Beisel and Ammeretto. They stormed through the course, taking each fence with force. The crowd cheered as they passed the timers in a cool, clear 34.755, a full second ahead of the leading time, where the lead would remain.
Melissa Rudershausen followed with Charmeur Ask for another clear round, and their time of 40.239 put them ahead of Robinson for the ultimate sixth place position.
There were only two left in the starting order, but only one chance to take the win away from Beisel, as he had one more horse left to show.
It was all down to the battle of the quickest between Andrade and Beisel. Andrade went first with his second mount of the jump-off, Reus De La Nutria. They came in hot, stopping the clock in 35.607 to step into second place.
The win was Beisel’s, but he still had one more ride. He followed with Call Me Hannes, putting in a clear round, but their time of 37.213 was not enough to overtake Andrade’s second and third place trips, settling them into fourth place for the white ribbon.
Ocala, FL (February 27, 2017): The grand finale of another FEI week at HITS Post Time Farm ensued on Sunday beneath a beautiful, sunny sky. Forty-three competitors turned out for a shot at the top title, including seasoned Grand Prix vets and a new blend of young, talented equestrians.
After two Grand Prix wins and several top ribbon placings in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium during the Ocala Winter Circuit, Andy Kocher of Lake St. Louis, Missouri returned to the iconic stadium to once again snag a win, this time in the $50,000 KindredBio Grand Prix.
Kocher piloted Ciana, owned by Eagle Valley Partners, LLC, to the win in a nine-horse jump-off over the course designed by Manuel Esparza of Mexico. Five would produce clear rounds over the abbreviated course in contingency for the win.
Most of the top five would go back-to-back in the jump-off setting the top scores within the first half of the jump-off, aside from one speedy round as the second-to-last challenger.
First to tour the jump-off course fault-free was Jonathan McCrea riding Special Lux, owned by Candy Tribble. McCrea, a season Grand Prix vet and top-three finisher in both the 2016 AIG $1 Million Grand Prix and the 2016 Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, laid down a quick, clear round to set the tone for those who followed.
McCrea and Special Lux crossed the timers with all of the rails up in 36.32, which would ultimately give them the second-place prize.
Immediately following McCrea in the order were victors Kocher and Ciana. They took to the course no holds barred, chasing McCrea’s time and determined to put in a quicker clean effort. They did just that, stopping the clock in a blazing-fast 35.31, where the lead would remain.
Next in was Andrea Torres Guerreiro, a fiery, Columbian-equestrian with several top finishes in HITS Ocala’s featured Grand Prix. Torres Guerreiro proved herself a force to be reckoned with, powering through the course aboard her horse, Fifty Shades. They passed the timers in 37.44, a few seconds shy of the lead, but a round that would hold up for the rest of the class to ultimately give them fifth place.
Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue, owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, won last week’s $5,000 FEI Welcome Stake during the CSIO4* Nations Cup week at HITS Ocala. This week they scored a fourth-place prize in the $25,000 SmartPak FEI Grand Prix, and returned to once again claim fourth place in Sunday’s Grand Prix. Ryan and Eddie Blue stopped the clock in 36.88 with no faults for the white ribbon.
Another clear round would not be seen until the second-to-last horse in the order, Conthendrix, owned and ridden by Andre Thieme of Germany. Thieme and his mount laid down a valiant effort to catch Kocher’s leading time, leaving all of the rails up. Their time of 36.54 moved them ahead of Ryan and Torres Guerreiro and into the third-place slot.
Ocala, FL (February 25, 2017): After an exciting finish to the FEI Nations Cup CSI4* week at HITS Ocala, FEI competition continued at HITS Post Time Farm. Riders and horses from the US, Canada and abroad met in the Horse Capital of the World for a shot at blue ribbon status. Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina grabbed the win in the $25,000 FEI SmartPak Grand Prix.
Fifty-one challengers tested the course designed by Manuel Esparza of Mexico and nineteen would advance with first-round clears to contest the abbreviated course in the jump-off. Twelve produced clean jump-off rounds, leaving it all down to the quickest time to bring home the victory.
Chopping, who originally hails from Canada, piloted Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington, through the jump-off, laying down a blazing-fast ride in 38.20 to eventually take home the win.
Brandie Holloway ultimately garnered second place in the thrilling class aboard Lucky Strike, owned by Hays Investment Corp. Their final time of 39.06 after a fault-free round in the jump-off gave them the red-ribbon slot on the leaderboard.
Coming in just behind Brandie Holloway was Germany’s Andre Thieme riding Conthendrix. Just fractions of a second divided Thieme’s time from Holloway, a 39.34, settling them third in the ribbons.
Devin Ryan took home fourth place riding Eddie Blue, owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC. Ryan and Eddie Blue also grabbed a win in Ocala with first place in the $5,000 FEI Welcome Stake. Their time of 40.24, gave them the white ribbon.
Brandie’s daughter, Hunter Holloway, would also capture a seat in the top five. Hunter won the $41,200 FEI Thursday Prix at HITS Ocala with VDL Bravo S, owned by Hays Investment Corp, and the pair showed they are still in top form. They earned fifth place with their clean round in 41.13.
(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Aaron Vale and Quality on Top.
Ocala, FL (February 19, 2017): The CSIO4* Week continued at HITS Post Time Farm on Saturday with the $41,200 HITS Jumper Classic. Riders from several countries, including USA, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, El Salvador, Colombia and the recent winners of the $100,000 FEI Nations Cup™, Ireland, took their turn over the course set by Marina Azevedo of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The rider to beat would be hometown hero, Aaron Vale riding Quality on Top, owned by North Face Farm. They would indeed finish on top by an impressive three seconds. Third place rider from Venezuela, Pablo Barrios, made Vale work for it though, entering immediately before Vale in the jump-off order, setting down a time Vale had to chase.
“My horses have jumped great all circuit; I just haven’t had luck on my side. Today, it was,” said Vale. “This was this horse’s first ribbon in an FEI class, and for it to be a blue one is pretty special.”
The course was winding and included two roll-back turns and two exciting galloping points that riders could hustle across the ring to shave the seconds off of the clock.
First to return to the shortened course was McLain Ward riding Quinta, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare he co-owns with Francois Mathy. They laid down a clear round right out of the gate, clocking in at 42.48 to set the tone for the class. The trip would ultimately settle them in sixth place, with the remaining contenders, aside from Vale, all finishing within a few fractions of a second of each other.
Pablo Barrios grabbed the next clear round of the eventual top five placings, going fourth in the jump-off order aboard Zara Leandra, owned by ZL Group, Inc. Cheers rang out from the Venezuelan team supporters as they watched them laid down a cool, clear round in 41.17. They’d ultimately take home the third-place prize.
Vale followed next, taking care to ensure the lead did not stay in Barrios’ hands for long. Vale and Quality on Top powered through the course, flying across the arena from the fifth fence on course to the combination, which required riders to gallop to the opposite end of the ring then change direction.
“I got to watch McLain go, and I thought he was quite fast so I knew I had to be especially quick,” said Vale. “There were a couple of spots early in the course where I could have been faster, but I wanted to be careful too.”
The crowd gasped as they zoomed toward the finish, the lead imminent by their quick speed. They passed the timers in 38.43, a time no other could catch.
“We had a rub in the combination and I actually thought we had had a rail down. I looked up at the scoreboard a couple of times waiting for the 4 [faults] to come up, but it didn’t – so then I just went as fast as I could to the last few jumps. My horse is fairly quick-footed, so that really paid off.
Emanuel Andrade and Mattias Tromp both put in valiant efforts to catch Vale. Andrade, another speedy Venezuelan rider, powered home to a fault-free 41.33-second ride for the eventual fourth place, riding his bay gelding, U.
Tromp, entered behind Andrade in the order piloting Avon, owned by Swede Ventures, LLC. They put the pedal to the metal in the course, trying with all of their might to catch Vale’s leading time. Their finish in 40.33 would settle them in second place.
Ali Wolff would round out the top five riding Quirie, co-owned with John Wolff. They put in a clear round in 41.90 for fifth place.
Ocala, FL (February 20, 2017): The curtain on the CSIO4* week at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida, came to a thrilling close on Sunday with a jump-off battle in the $100,000 FEI City of Ocala Grand Prix. Hot off the win with Team Ireland in Friday’s FEI Nations Cup™, Cian O’Connor prevailed aboard Seringat, owned by Ronnoco Jump LTD., with another top title in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
“After winning the Nations Cup with the team and then coming back today to win again, it’s a great feeling. The course designer [Marina Azevedo] designed both courses that I won on, so I love her courses,” laughed O’Connor in the post-victory press conference. “I like the arena [in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium]; the ground is perfect. The jumps are different and impressive. Plus, there’s lots of room to work your horses in Ocala – it was no doubt a great week of competition.”
With a little luck, and a lot of skill, O’Connor returned as the final contender in the three-horse jump-off to once again take the victory under pressure. Olympic gold-medalist and Team USA rider Beezie Madden took home the second-place prize and young talent Ali Wolff, Team USA’s alternate rider in the Nations Cup, raked in third place.
Interestingly, both O’Connor and Madden were the only riders to garner double clear rounds for their respective countries in Friday’s FEI Nations Cup™.
“Having a great week of sport like this is pretty special, so my hats off to the HITS Team and to the riders sitting to my right [Cian and Beezie], two of the very best,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “We’re lucky to have super sponsors, like The City of Ocala and Longines, and of course the support from Marion County.”
Forty-four decorated riders, including the likes of McLain Ward, Ian Millar, and Kevin Babington, tested the course of 13 jumping efforts set at 1.60m by Marina Azevedo of Sao Paulo, Brazil, but time would prove a factor early on in the class and the top three would prove themselves to advance to the jump-off.
The jump-off was speedy, with O’Connor, Madden and Wolff all claiming clear rounds but separated by only tenths of a second.
First to tour the abbreviated course was Madden riding Breitling LS, owned by Abigail Wexner. The pair had the first clear trip in the first round, slating them as the first trip into the jump-off.
“Going in first can be a difficult spot especially when there are only three in the jump-off, there needs to be a little strategy. If there’s 12 in the jump-off, you just go for it and go fast,” said Madden with a grin. “I wanted to set my trip up taking a few risks to be fast so it would be hard to catch us. In hindsight, I could have done the seven [strides] from the wall to the oxer safely, that might have cost me those four-tenths of a second.”
They finished their jump-off trip fault-free in 41.43, to the sound of the crowd’s cheers, to set the tone for Wolff to follow and then O’Connor.
Wolff entered next with Casall, owned by Blacklick Bend Farm. They powered toward the finish as the clock wound down, the crowd on the edge of their seats. They would stop the clock with all of the rails up but their time of 41.86 would ultimately settle them in a well-fought third place.
O’Connor was last to challenge, and just like his exhilarating anchor ride for the Irish on Friday, he and Seringat were back to perform under the pressure. There was one shot, and O’Connor laid it all on the line with his chestnut gelding. They opted for the seven strides from the wall to the oxer, the same track that Madden opted to play it safe in eight strides, shaving crucial time off the clock. They passed the timers in a cool, clear 41.22 to secure the win.
The crowd roared to life and a terrific week of FEI competition at HITS Post Time Farm had gone out with sparks in the air.
Fourth place went to Isabelle Lapierre [CAN] aboard Cesha M. They nearly passed into the jump-off with a single first-round time fault. Emanuel Andrade [VEN] would too be foiled by a single time penalty with his bay Holsteiner, Ricore Courcelle, settling them into fifth place.
Up next for the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit is an FEI CSI2* week, February 22-26. Then, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix culminates the exciting circuit on Sunday, March 26. For more information on the Great American Million, please visit HitsShows.com.
Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team Members Wolff and Casall Pick Up Third
Ocala, Fla. – Beezie Madden and Breitling LS led the way for the U.S. contingent with a second-place finish in the $100,000 City of Ocala Grand Prix at HITS Ocala on Sunday. After guiding the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team to a second place finish in the FEI Nations Cup™ on Friday, she and Breitling LS earned their second consecutive double-clear. Ali Wolff and Casall, the reserve combination for the FEI Nations Cup™ team, landed in the jump-off to place third. Ireland’s Cian O’Connor stole the win by 21-hundredths of a second.
A field of 41 world-class athletes contested Marina Azevedo challenging four-star course. The spread of the triple combination and the last line comprised of the double combination, followed by a wide square oxer and a tall vertical, showed its complexity. Numerous combinations fell prey to faults in the first round until Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Breitling LS, Abigail Wexner’s 2006 Dutch Warmblood stallion, entered the ring. The four-time Olympian and her determined mount traveled around the course with ease. They secured the field’s first clear round with a time of 79.45 seconds.
“He was a green seven-year-old to start with. The spring of his eight-year-old year, I broke my collarbone, and that was seven to eight weeks before we got going again. He is 11, but he’s not quite as experienced as he should be as an 11-year-old who has been with us since he was seven. I think now he is just starting to get more consistent and being able to depend on him for bigger things,” said Madden.
Madden and Breitling LS continued with the lead going in to Wolff (New Albany, Ohio) and Casall’s attempt on the course. She and the 2005 Holsteiner gelding owned by Blacklick Bend Farm guaranteed a jump-off against their teammates going clear. Irish Olympian Cian O’Connor and Seringat rounded out the jump-off. In a heart-pounding jump-off, it came down to speed. Going last, O’Connor had the advantage. Knowing the time to beat, the combination barely blazed past Madden and Breitling LS for the win.
“[Going] first is a little difficult spot, especially when there are only three. There is a little strategy. I wanted to set it fast enough that it was a little hard to catch, and they would have to pull some risks,” said Madden.
(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Hunter Holloway and VDL Bravo S.
Ocala, FL (February 17, 2017): The FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping CSIO4* week kicked off on Thursday with two featured FEI classes, the $41,200 Thursday Prix and the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transport Welcome Stake. Riders and horses from around the globe all converged at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida to celebrate and compete in this very special week.
$41,200 Thursday Prix
Fifty-five horses and riders contested the course, designed by Marina Azevedo of Brazil. Hunter Holloway stole away with the win in Thursday’s class in an exhilarating eight-horse jump-off, where speed, power, agility and precision, all came into play.
“Thank you to my sponsors, and to the owners of VDL Bravo S, Virginia T. Bartholomay and Hays Investment Corp, for letting me ride this amazing horse,” said Holloway. “[VDL Bravo S] is an incredible horse; he always tries and has a big heart for what he does.”
First to return to test the abbreviated course was Mexico’s Eugenio Garza Perez piloting Bariano, owned by David and Monica Garza. They started the course out strong, but one unfortunate rail would ultimately put them in the fourth-place spot with a round in 37.61.
Following Perez was Canadian Isabelle Lapierre riding Cesha M. Lapierre and her powerful mare won the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix just last Sunday at HITS Ocala, and they returned to the Grand Prix Ring to once again claim a spot among the top contenders. They put in the first clear round of the jump-off in 40.75, which would eventually give them the third-place prize.
The victors, Hunter Holloway and Cassevel, owned by Hays Investment Corp, were next to enter the ring. Cassevel, a mighty ten-year-old grey gelding, was agile and quick under Holloway’s lead. The crowd cheered as they galloped to the finish, stopping the clock in 39.46, where the lead would remain.
Lisa Goldman, a veteran to the Grand Prix ribbons at HITS Ocala came in with Centurion B, and they would ultimately pick up four faults for sixth.
Two-time World Cup winner and Olympic silver-medalist, Ian Millar, entered next riding Dixson, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. They laid down a brilliantly smooth round, nearly catching Holloway with their time of 39.78. They would settle for the red ribbon in second place when the class was finished.
Devin Ryan was the second-to-last to challenge the jump-off course riding Cooper. They laid down a lightning-fast round in 38.64, but a heart-breaking rail at the final fence would give them the final spot in the top five for fifth place.
$5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome Stake
Devin Ryan took home the win in Thursday’s Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome with Eddie Blue, owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC. Eighteen would produce clear rounds out of a field of 44 in a race against the clock. It was a speedy and challenging class, with the top exhibitors finishing within just tenths of a second, and seconds of each other.
Ryan’s fault-free time of 54.12 held up after testing the course second in the order. Second place would belong to Lisa Goldman and Sovereign, owned by Barbara Disko. They punched their ticket into the top five with a 54.45-second round.
Lauren Hough rode Joblesse, co-owned by Patrick de Roeck, to the third place prize. Their time of 55.04 with no penalties in sight sealed their spot after challenging the course fourteenth in the order of go.
The final contenders in the top five were Paris Sellon riding Quantis, owned by Willow Grace Farms. They nearly caught Hough’s time with their own round in 55.61, settling them in fourth.
Rounding out the top five was Andrew Bourns of Ireland. He rode Charming Girl, owned by Deirdre Bourns to the fifth-place finish in 57.57.
Ocala, Fla. – The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team jumped to the top of the North America FEI Nations Cup™ standings with an exciting finish at FEI Nations Cup™ CSIO4* Ocala. With the U.S. Team trailing by four faults, anchor combination Beezie Madden and Breitling LS came through in the clutch for a double-clear round to help secure the Team Silver medal. Madden and Breitling LS were accompanied by Lauren Hough and Cornet 39, Lillie Keenan and Super Sox, and McLain Ward and Rothchild, who all performed well to secure 90 points. Ireland took the Gold medal with 12 faults and Canada claimed the Bronze medal on 24 faults.
“We are fortunate to be on top [of the standings]. It means a lot. It was important that we won our own [Nations Cup] because now we are going off-campus so to speak, and the Mexicans have always been strong at home. The Canadians will be strong at Langley,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “We did what we came here to do which was to lead in the points, but it is going to be a tough battle, and we are prepared for that.”
The U.S. Team showed grit and strength in the first round, ending on a total of eight faults. As pathfinders for the team, 2016 Rio Olympic Games Team Silver medalist Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Rothchild, Sagamore Farms’ 2001 Warmblood gelding, performed their job brilliantly, producing a clear round. Keenan (New York, N.Y.) and Super Sox, Chansonette Farm LLC.’s 2006 Hanoverian gelding, followed second in the order. The triple combination proved difficult for the pair, having rails down at the “B” and “C” elements. Hough (Wellington, Fla.), a 2000 Sydney Olympian, and Cornet 39, Willow Grace Farms’ 2004 Oldenburg gelding, snagged 12 faults with rails down at fence 10 and at the “A” and “C” elements of the triple combination. Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Breitling LS’, Abigail Wexner’s 2006 Dutch Warmblood stallion, faultless round allowed the U.S. to drop Hough and Cornet 39’s score.
Tied for second place with Mexico going into the second round, the U.S. Team kept faults at a minimum to earn top points in the division. Ward and Rothchild nearly produced a double-clear, but brushed a rail at element “C” at the triple combination for four faults. Keenan and Super Sox and Hough and Cornet 39 improved upon their first round performances with four faults each.
The top two teams in the North America Division will qualify for the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in Barcelona, Spain in October.
By Dana Rossmeier, US Equestrian Communications Department