The Ocala Holiday Classic concluded with the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix in the Grand Prix Ring on Sunday. Countless professionals returned from the $25,000 Smartpak Grand Prix on Friday to compete for a second chance at success. The atmosphere was electric—with only seconds between competitors—Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida, came out as the victor to take home the $7,500 prize.
Eighth in the first round order, Vale and Bonzini S, owned by Thinkslikeahorse, moved through the 13-jump course designed by Ken Krome of Wesminster, Maryland, with precision and power. Advancing to the jump-off, and without missing a beat, the duo secured the win with a swift, fault-free time of 39.900.
"It was very exciting to win, especially against great competitors like Andy Kocher and Margie Engle—she's a legend," said Vale. "Bonzini is not a particularly fast horse, so I was proud of him."
Second-place went to the Wellington, Florida, equestrienne Margie Engle and her mount Indigo, owned by Gladewinds Farm, Inc. After a speedy, clear first-round, Engle zipped through the jump-off course, clocking in at 40.888, just behind Vale. Engle also claimed a second spot in the top five with a fifth-place finish of 88.927 this time aboard Eckham Van Het Steentje, owned by Elm Rock, LLC.
With one Holiday Classic SmartPak Grand Prix victory under his belt, Andrew Kocher of Lake St. Louis, Missouri, spurred his way into the top three for the second grand prix of the weekend. Kocher came in with a clear round of 41.745 with Uppie De Lis, owned by BTS Entertainment & Sales.
Kocher also garnered fourth-place navigating his second mount of the afternoon, Ora Del Te Di La San Giorgio, owned by Ora Del Te, LLC, to secure an additional place in the top five with 42.281 in the jump-off.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.