Ocala, FL (December 5, 2016): Sunday marked the finale of the first week of the HITS Ocala Holiday Series, concluding with the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. Exhibitors and spectators enjoyed a beautiful week to kick-off the winter at HITS Post Time Farm with a swell of new features: including updated footing in Grand Prix ring and adjacent schooling area as well as other rings to emulate the very popular Ocala Horse Properties Stadium footing.
Thirty contenders vied for the top prize but only one horse and rider could take home the lion’s share over the course designed by Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, Florida.
The rider to beat proved to be hometown equestrian, Aaron Vale, who would not only take home the victory, but the second-place spot as well.
“Sunday’s course was a nice, balanced course with a good design and it gave a nice tour of the ring,” said Vale. “We’re happy to be here at HITS— the rings have always been very nice here and the footing in the Grand Prix ring felt great.”
Vale grabbed the top two spots with both mounts owned by North Face Farm, first place with Carlo, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and second place with Quality On Top, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding.
The nine-horse jump-off was challenging, and as none would go clear over the shortened course, it all came down to speed.
Vale and Carlo went first in the jump-off, and it looked as though they would lay down a clear round, but they were fooled by a rail at the final fence as the pair clocked in at 44.941. Vale’s second-place trip aboard Quality On Top would be in 45.649 seconds, also with only one rail.
Derek Petersen of Archer, Florida, would come in third behind Vale’s two rounds piloting Diamant’s Legacy after stopping the clock in 46.048 with one rail at a mid-course vertical prior to the combination.
Flower Mound, Texas equestrian, Tracy Fenney, climbed her way from eighth place in Friday’s Grand Prix to score the fourth-place prize with MTM Reve Du Paradis, owned by MTM Farm in a 46.529-second round. This pair is no stranger to success in the Grand Prix Ring at Post Time Farm. Their success in this week’s Grand Prix is in addition to Fenney’s recent third-place finish in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at the HITS Championship in September.
The final spot in the top five belonged to Ocala resident Kyle Dewar riding Gomez van de Withoeve. They snagged fifth place with one rail in 47.296 seconds.