(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Mattias Tromp and KM Whatever RV.
Thermal, CA (February 26, 2016): As the big-money, jumper classes commenced during Ocala Week VI, horses and riders prepared to compete for the victory in Wednesday’s $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome and Thursday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. Amanda Flint and VDL Wittinger came out on top of the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix and Mattias Tromp aboard KM Whatever RV took home the blue in the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
The $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome was held in the Grand Prix ring at HITS Post Time Farm to kick off Week VI.
Mattias Tromp of North Salem, New York, riding KM Whatever RV, owned by Beyaert Farm, took home the blue. Mary Lisa Leffler of Brookeville, Maryland secured two spots in the top five for Rolling Acres, finishing second on Bling Bling and fourth on Carlot. Mundelein, Illinois equestrian, Laura Linback, was third on Big Smile, owned by Woodrun.
Horses and riders took to the 14 effort course, set at 1.40m and designed by Danny Foster of Canada. Nine jumped clear to advance to the jump-off with five producing double clears. Tromp was first in the order, and right out of the starting gate, laid down the Great American Time to Beat of 45.215 to set the tone for the jump-off.
Leffler and Bling Bling followed Tromp, finishing in a fault-free 46.384 to slip into second place. Tracy Magness aboard Tresor du Paradis, owned by and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko, followed Leffler to put in a 52.870-second round.
Leffler returned on her second horse, Carlot, determined to take the lead. They stopped the clock at 47.940 to edge out Magness’s round. The final double clear was Linback, who piloted Big Smile to the third fastest time with a fault-free round in 46.630, putting Leffler and Carlot’s round in fourth and Magness in fifth.
“I was very happy with the way my horse performed,” said Tromp. “I thought the jump-off really allowed us to get our horses on a big stride, which really played to [KM Whatever RV’s] strengths.”
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
Amanda Flint of Long Valley, New Jersey finished the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, with three horses in the ribbons, including the first place title with her own VDL Wittinger. Mary Lisa Leffler of Brookeville, Maryland was second on Bling Bling, owned by Rolling Acres, and third place went to German equestrian Christian Heineking, riding from Weatherford, Texas aboard NKH Calango, owned by NKH LLC. Each with multiple mounts in the jump-off the race was on between Flint and Heineking for the top spot.
Canadian course designer Danny Foster set an inviting 16-effort course for Thursday afternoon’s class in the Grand Prix ring at HITS Post Time Farm. Eight jumped clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off.
The jump-off proved to be quite challenging, with only two riders going clean in the second round. Flint was first to contest the shortened course on Coverboy, owned by The Coverboy Group. Three rails earned her twelve faults, for the eventual eighth place spot.
Next to return to the ring was Heineking piloting VEX Cassandra. They collected four faults at a mid-course vertical prior to the combination, finishing in 43.747 seconds for the temporary lead. When all was said and done, they would finish in fourth place.
Leffler, straight off of a second place finish in the Brook Ledge Open Welcome, shot to the top of the leaderboard after putting in a clear round with Bling Bling; they clocked in at 46.859.
Flint returned on her second mount, VDL Wittinger. They sliced a full second off Leffler’s time, taking over the lead as they crossed the timers in a fault-free 45.837.
“He always tries hard, no matter what class it is,” said Flint in regard to VDL Wittinger. “In the beginning of circuit, he jumped four Grand Prix in a row clean and he felt tired. I gave him a week off and he came back great. The jump-off combined turns and running – he was perfect!”
Billie Derouet aboard Bonaparte VP Wisbec followed Flint’s leading round, but had an unfortunate eight faults in a time of 46.398, for the eventual fifth place.
Andre Thieme on his own Cellisto and Flint aboard her third jump-off mount Superbad, both had eight fault rounds, but did not go home empty handed. Thieme took home sixth place and Flint garnered seventh with Superbad as her final horse in the ribbons.
The final rider in the jump-off ring was Heineking with his second mount, NKH Calango, this time determined to stack the leaderboard. The victory was not sealed for Flint until an unfortunate four faults earned Heineking third place as they crossed the timers in 43.456.
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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