Ocala, FL- Fifty-five horses and riders contested the course, designed by Marina Azevedo of Brazil. Hunter Holloway stole away with the win in Thursday’s class in an exhilarating eight-horse jump-off, where speed, power, agility and precision, all came into play.
"Thank you to my sponsors, and to the owners of VDL Bravo S, Virginia T. Bartholomay and Hays Investment Corp, for letting me ride this amazing horse," said Holloway. "[VDL Bravo S] is an incredible horse, he always tries and has a big heart for what he does."
First to return to test the abbreviated course was Mexico’s Eugenio Garza Perez piloting Bariano, owned by David and Monica Garza. They started the course out strong, but one unfortunate rail would ultimately put them in the fourth-place spot with a round in 37.61.
Following Perez was Canadian Isabelle Lapierre riding Cesha M. Lapierre and her powerful mare won the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix just last Sunday at HITS Ocala, and they returned to the Grand Prix Ring to once again claim a spot among the top contenders. They put in the first clear round of the jump-off in 40.75, which would eventually give them the third-place prize.
The victors, Hunter Holloway and Cassevel, owned by Hays Investment Corp, were next to enter the ring. Cassevel, a mighty ten-year-old grey gelding, was agile and quick under Holloway’s lead. The crowd cheered as they galloped to the finish, stopping the clock in 39.46, where the lead would remain.
Lisa Goldman, a veteran to the Grand Prix ribbons at HITS Ocala came in with Centurion B, and they would ultimately pick up four faults for sixth.
Two-time World Cup winner and Olympic silver-medalist, Ian Millar, entered next riding Dixson, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. They laid down a brilliantly smooth round, nearly catching Holloway with their time of 39.78. They would settle for the red ribbon in second place when the class was finished.
Devin Ryan was the second-to-last to challenge the jump-off course riding Cooper. They laid down a lightning-fast round in 38.64, but a heart-breaking rail at the final fence would give them the final spot in the top five for fifth-place.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.