Ocala, Florida (March 14, 2015): Under the lights of the Ocala Horse Properties Grand Prix Stadium, 12-year-old Anika Pirkle from Carmel, Indiana, impressed the crowd as she zoomed to the win in the $25,000 Marshall & Sterling Team Barber Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic with her off-the-track Thoroughbred, Just a Dream. In a time of 32.808, they were a full three seconds faster than the 21 others who jumped-off, besting a total of 67 competitors from the first round.
With the help of trainer David Dorner, Pirkle and Just a Dream have a remarkable record behind them and a bright future ahead. Their win at HITS Ocala ranks with the likes of a her double Gold finish at the USHJA North Regional Children’s Individual and Team Championship at HITS Saugerties in 2014.
“We came up with a plan and we stuck to it. The first round was very challenging especially in the middle,” said Pirkle. “The diagonal line was a sit-up seven from the Vetera Vaccines oxer to the combination, which was a kicking one. Then a sit-up three to another oxer – we decided to kick for six and it worked.”
In the jump-off, Pirkle’s competition was hungry for a win with many riders galloping and turning as fast as they could in pursuit of the blue ribbon and only nine jumped clear as a result.
Jennifer Brennan, of Norristown, Pennsylvania, and Shannondell Farm’s Spalding, were second to go in the jump-off and appeared to have the class in the bag. Brennan, aboard the same giant grey she won the $7,500 Marshall & Sterling/Tuffrider - Equine Couture Adult Jumper Classic during HITS Ocala Week III, clocked in at 35.807.
“I thought I had it,” said Brennan. “His stride is so big and he turned great.”
Brennan held the top spot until Pirkle entered the ring sixteenth and took the lead for a first place finish in a time of 32.808. “In the jump-off we planned to do eight up the first line, then crank the turn as hard as we could and finish the last line in seven,” added Pirkle.
Third place went to Ashton Alexander of Ocala, Florida, on Naturel, owned by Artisan Farms, LLC, with a time of 35.836. Victoria Weaver of Ottawa, Canada, turned in a time of 36.214 on Kandor Farm LLC’s Saba Du Reverdy for fourth place, followed by Papillon Peanut, owned by Mr. & Mrs. John Bartko, ridden by Wendy Libert of Hughesville, Maryland, with a time of 36.475 for fifth place.
Manuel Esparza of Mexico designed the course.
$25,000 Marshall & Sterling Team Barber Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic
Place Horse Owner Rider Prize Rd. 1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Just a Dream Anika Pirkle Anika Pirkle $7,500 - - 32.808
2 Spalding Shannondell Farm, Inc. Jennifer Brennan $5,500 - - 35.807
3 Naturel Artisan Farms, LLC Ashton Alexander $3,250 - - 5.836
4 Saba Du Reverdy Kandor Farm LLC Victoria Weaver $2,000 - - 36.214
5 Papillion Peanut Mr & Mrs John Bartko Wendy Libert $1,500 - - 36.475
6 Don Loma Lindsay Simmons Lindsay Simmons $1,250 - - 37.493
7 Revelation Fairfield Farms LLC Meghan Flanagan $1000 - - 38.333
8 Cordela Cindy Bohn Abigail Russo $750 - - 39.833
9 Secret Agent Casey Millis Casey Millis $750 - - 40.39
10 Elevation 1147 Kendall Casaccio Kendall Casaccio $500 - 4 35.607
11 Why Not Ashland Stables Jade Webby $500 - 4 37.15
12 Whiskey Rox Elizabeth Traband Grace Boston $500 - 4 38.403