Amanda Steege and Zidane Win HITS Ocala January Festival $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

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Amanda Steege and Dutch Warmblood Zidane make a terrific performance in the HITS Ocala January Festival $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix Saturday, January 24. (c) ESI Photography
Amanda Steege and Dutch Warmblood Zidane make a terrific performance in the HITS Ocala January Festival $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix Saturday, January 24. (c) ESI Photography

Ocala, Florida: Amanda Steege of Bedminster, New Jersey, topped the HITS Ocala January Festival $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix on Dutch Warmblood Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh of Orefield, Pennsylvania.

The consistent jumping by Zidane put him at the top of the leader board with matching first and second round scores of 85, after the previous Saturday, when Zidane and Steege had the highest first round score of 89, but a little playfulness in the second round cost him the win and he placed second.

Exhibitors enjoyed ringside refreshments provided by sponsor Devoucoux as they watched competition over the course designed by Tucker Williams, of Cleveland, Texas, which included a jump set at the bottom of the bank on the outside course.

Steege has had the ride on 11-year-old Zidane for the last three years. She also shows him in the High Performance Division and the International Hunter Derbies. Darragh imported him as a 2-year-old and rides him herself in the Modified Adult Hunters.

Amanda Steege and Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh, get the blue ribbon in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. (c) ESI Photography
Amanda Steege and Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh, get the blue ribbon in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. (c) ESI Photography

Steege was second last year at the HITS Championship and third in 2013 on Balou in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final and is very excited about the new format this year, which allows the top 20 riders to show two horses in the Final. She said, “As a rider who has competed in this class for the last few years, I am really excited because I would like to do Zidane and Balou in the Finals. I think a lot of people will show in this class more consistently to get the opportunity to do two in the Finals.”

Second place in the Devoucoux Hunter Prix went to Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina, riding Caroline Russell Howe’s Caramo with scores of 81.5 in the first round and 84 in the second. Chopping said, “He’s a wonderful horse – he’s a pro. There’s no green in him, ever. There’s no figuring it out. I just try to do the best job I can getting him to the ring. His owner is on the phone all the time with his breeder in Denmark. If you’re 16-years-old he can teach you a lot and if you are 50-years-old and get to ride that – hey, they’re not all like that.”

Third place went to Classified, owned and ridden by Samantha Schaefer of Westminster, Maryland, with scores of 84 and 81. Fourth place went to Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida, riding Donald Stewart’s Dress Balou, the winner of the 2014 Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. This was only the third class Dress Balou had shown in since his big win last fall. He warmed up in a Level 0 and Level 1 Jumper class and went to the ring. Vale said he was “thrilled” with the horse’s performance.

Alexa Bayko and Anucci win the HITS Ocala January Festival ,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. (c) ESI Photography
Alexa Bayko and Anucci win the HITS Ocala January Festival ,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. (c) ESI Photography

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix 
Place    Horse    Owner    Rider    Prize    Rd. 1/2    Total
1  Zidane  Susan Darragh  Amanda Steege    $1,500    85/85    170
2  Caramo  Caroline Russell Howe  Harold Chopping  $1,000  81.5/84  165.5
3  Classified    Samantha Schaefer  Samantha Schaefer  $700  84/81  165
4  Dress Balou    Donald Stewart    Aaron Vale  $500  81/83.75  164.75
5  Stallone  Samantha Schaefer    Samantha Schaefer  $400     82/82  164
6  Veiten  Redfield Farm  Adrienne Iverson  $350  83/80  163
7  Unwritten  Amy Miller  Sara Green $300  78/81.5  159.5
8  Entourage  Jessica O'Hanrahan  Jessica O'Hanrahan  $250  79/79  158

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix
Juniors and amateurs had the opportunity to ride the same course as the pros in the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Williams’ course design included a bending line and the natural hill on the outside to further test the skills of the riders.

Alexa Bayko of Salisbury, Maryland, riding Monica Hunt’s Anucci, took home top honors with scores of 82 in the first round and 83 in the second. Bayko said of 10-year-old Anucci, “The course was great. The footing was really good and all the lines rode great. I like the hill. It’s a little different and it keeps the horses’ attention a little more.”

Second place went to Surreal owned and ridden by Katharine Page of Mt. Kisco, New York, with a first round score of 79 and a second round of 82. Third place went to High Voltage, owned and ridden by Lee Ann Rugolo of Jackson, New Jersey, with scores of 73 and 77.

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix
Place  Horse  Owner  Rider  Prize  Rd. 1/2  Total
1  Anucci  Monica Hunt    Alexa Bayko  $450  82/83  165
2  Surreal  Katharine Page  Katharine Page  $300  79/82  161
3  High Voltage    Lee Ann Rugolo    Lee Ann Rugolo    $200  73/77  150
4  Cosa Nostra    Merle Beach  Merle Beach  $150    74/74  148
5  Second Step    Kristan Lassiter  Kristan Lassiter  $125  72/75  147
6  Maxwell  Adam Rittenberg  Ketzel Feasley  $100  69/76  145
7  Contina  Jacquelyn Maggiore    Jacquelyn Maggiore  $100  70/73  143
8  US Marshall    Kiki Hopkins  Rachel Hopkins  $75  67/72  139




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