OCALA, FLORIDA- Show jumping competition returned to HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida, this past Wednesday for the inaugural HITS Holiday Series. In preparation for the ten-week HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, which begins January 19, 2016, the Holiday Series offers riders two additional weeks of winter show opportunities in the heart of the Horse Capital of the World.
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
Big money classes commenced on Friday for the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix in the Grand Prix Ring. Many well-known names filled the Order of Go, including Margie Engle and Aaron Vale, but it was Lake St. Louis, Missouri native, Andrew Kocher, and Uppie De Lis, owned by BTS Entertainment & Sales, who would go home with the blue ribbon and a $7,500 check.
In round one, riders attempted the 13 fence course set by Kenny Krome, of Westminster, Maryland, but only five entries would go clear to move on to the jump-off. First to reenter the ring and attempt the abbreviated course was Pan American Games star Margie Engle and Eckham Van Het Steentje, owned by Elm Rock LLC. Steadily, they sailed over the fences to set the tone for the afternoon, and without a single misstep, Engle clocked in at 40.814 for the time to beat.
Second in the order, Kocher and Uppie De Lis cruised to a cool, clean finish, in an impressive time of 38.283 to top Engle on the leaderboard for the time being. Both riders had second entries in the jump-off so it was still anyone’s game. Next in the order was Ocala’s own Aaron Vale aboard Bonzini S, owned by Thinkslikeahorse, and all was right until a down rail at the third fence resulted in four faults and a time of 39.118.
Piloting his second mount, Le Conte, Kocher knew what he had to do for a win and with that in mind he took off running. Zooming through the course fault-free they finished in a time of 38.633, to top Engle again, for second place behind himself and Uppie De Lis.
It all came down to Engle and the last entry of the jump-off round, Indigo, owned by Gladewinds Farm LLC. The round was in Engle’s favor until the second to last obstacle where a single rail would give her a final score of four faults in a time of 38.597 for fourth place.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.