Ocala, FL - HITS Ocala’s 2009 Leading Grand Prix Rider Tracy Magness made her anticipated return to the winners’ circle yesterday after capturing the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko’s Tarco Van Ter Moude, at Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida.
"I feel like we’ve been knocking on the door for the last two weeks," said Magness who has competed in all seven of the Grand Prix classes offered in Ocala so far this season, and has placed in six of them. "In the last two Sundays, we had the lightest of rubs which caused us to drop a couple of rails, but our luck has finally changed."
International Course Designer Aki Ylanne of Riihimaki, Finland, who is in Ocala for the first time, set a wide-open course with some tricky challenges that produced four for the jump off out of a field of 21.
The first of those clear rounds came from the very first rider on course, Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina, aboard Penelope Strait and Jenna Hoy’s Little Glen’s Valentino. The duo, who placed fifth in Sunday’s $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, went clear well within the time allowed for the first round.
After Chopping, seven other riders attempted to do the same, but it was not until Texas’ Tracy Fenney and MTM Centano took to the course that there would be another clear round and a guaranteed jump-off.
Magness was the next rider to join the jump-off, followed by Derek Petersen of Archer, Florida and Eli, who finished second in the first Grand Prix of the season, the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during the Ocala January Classic.
Chopping was supposed to be the first rider in the jump-off, but Valentino lost a shoe on the way into the ring and, as a result, Fenney went first. In a very speedy 50.541 seconds, she cruised through the course aboard MTM Farm’s MTM Centano and would have had the blue, but the pair dropped a rail at the second fence pushing them back to fourth place.
"Centano is a really fast horse," said Fenney. "Some people think that because he’s so big that he’s slow, but he covers the ground really fast for a big horse."
Following Fenney was Magness. Over the years these two riders have created the “Battle of the Tracys”, going neck and neck for Grand Prix wins season after season in Ocala. Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude cruised through Ylanne’s jump-off course in a clean 51.248 seconds to set the Great American Time to Beat.
“Tracy [Fenney] is always very fast, so I was lucky that she had that rail down,” said Magness.
Petersen and Eli were up next and although they went clean, their time of 52.805 seconds was not enough to take the lead away from Magness. Chopping and a fully shod Valentino returned to ring to make their attempt at capturing the blue. They finished clean in a time of 52.676 to take second place.
"Valentino is a really new horse for me," said Chopping. "This is just the second week that I‘ve been riding him and I feel like we’ve started out well together. He’s a very careful horse with a huge jump and is really competitive. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks."
Chopping, who spends the winter in Ocala, is pleased to have such a variety of new course designers in Ocala. "I enjoy having all these international course designers and the opportunity to ride different courses. I’ve never jumped Ylanne’s courses before and it’s been exciting to not know what to expect. I really like the fact that HITS has searched far and wide for course designers who to bring an international flare to Ocala. The jumps in the rings get better and better each year and that, together with the roster of course designers, makes for great show jumping."
Magness and Chopping both celebrated their success at the Pfizer High-Performance Riders Dinner at Ipanema Brazilian Steak House on Thursday night and enjoyed a night of feasting along with 40 other high-perofrmance riders, their guests and sponsors.
"It was a nice event at a great place! Although, they should have held it on Sunday night so that we could have Monday to rest after all that feasting!” laughed Chopping. “I ate way too much, but it was worth it."
Chopping is happy to have Pfizer Animal Health supporting the sport. "It’s really great, especially now, having them so involved at this level. And the Pfizer Million is just fantastic! It makes all the difference for the HITS shows, and by having to qualify it brings a slightly different crowd each week which has been nice. I believe it will make jumping in Culpeper and Saugerties a little different, as well."
Chopping is right, the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, which will take place on September 12 at HITS-on-the-Hudson, continues to peak interest with each passing week. High-Performance riders from coast-to-coast are competing at HITS events to qualify for this mega event, which is shaping up to be the ‘Super Bowl’ of Grand Prix classes. Five of the top ten riders in the preliminary Pfizer Million Standings are competing at HITS Ocala. Magness now has seven of the eight Grand Prix classes needed to make the initial qualification and, thanks to Thursday’s win, a healthy $16,750 in prize money.
Missed the Grand Prix action? That’s alright – you can watch every Grand Prix at HITS this season on Galopando TV at www.galopandotv.com, either live during the event for a small fee or after the event for no charge. At any time throughout the year, viewers can watch select competitions from HITS Ocala.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
Fenney and MTM Centano also had success earlier in the week as the pair won the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome.
"Centano was sick for the first ten days of the season, so I've been trying to get him re-acclimated and Wednesday's win showed me that he's doing well," said Fenney. "We needed some more time in the ring, and this class provided some great practice for us.
Finishing behind Fenney were Kim Mulligan aboard the Rouge Group LLC's Butterfly Rouge in second and Willie Tynan and Emily Skoggard's Cartier Van Schuttershof in third place.
Look for Fenney and MTM Centano in Sunday's $75,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
Also on Sunday, the Marion County Humane Society will be on site for its Adopt a Pet Day, featuring family-friendly pets for adoption. They will be located in the spectator parking area from approximately 11 to 2pm. And, don’t miss HITS Ocala’s Official Radio Station WTRS 102.3 FM on-site from 11 to 2pm.
In order to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, a rider must compete in eight or more HITS Grand Prix classes. The top 40 riders, based on money won by horse/rider combination, will be eligible to ride for the Pfizer Million. For more detailed information on the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, please visit our website at HitsShows.com.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS will take the industry to new heights when it hosts the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties on September 12.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
$25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE RIDER OWNER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Tarco Van Ter Moude Tracy Magness Mr. / Mrs. John Bartko $7,500 0 0 51.248
2 Little Glen's Valentino Harold Chopping Penelope Strait & Jenna Hoy $5,500 0 0 52.676
3 Eli Derek Petersen Derek Petersen $3,250 0 0 52.805
4 MTM Centano Tracy Fenney MTM Farm $2,000 0 4 50.541
5 Cincinatti La Silla Sean Crooks Mrs. Glen Youell $1,500 3
6 Icon Gavin Moylan Meadowville Farm $1,250 4
7 Andiamo Pyon Sharn Wordley Swept Away Farm $1,000 5
8 Cesar Andre Thieme Andre Thieme $750 8
9 Bull Run's Alpha & Omega Kristen VanderVeen Bull Run Jumpers Inc. $750 8
10 Uppsala Laura Linback Woodrun $500 8
11 Marcus Aurelius David Jennings David Jennings $500 8
12 Malcom Nicholas Dello Joio Judy Richter / The Federman Family / Ellie Belnap $500 8
Photos: Magness on course with Tarco Van Ter Moude in Thursday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Ocala. © ESI Photography.
Tracy Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude are congratulated by Kelly Frascatore and HITS' Lisa Engel. © ESI Photography.