Ocala, FL - Meg O’Mara of Rumson, New Jersey won the highly-acclaimed R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Classic at the Ocala Winter Celebration, on Friday, March 21. O'Mara was the best of 17 and took the victory aboard ten-year-old War Eagle, owned by Don Stewart Stables. “It was really fun,” exclaimed O’Mara, about the course designed by Olaf Petersen, Sr., of Germany. “It was a really good course – I had jumped a lot of those lines before so I knew what I was doing, but still, I didn’t expect to win!”
After the first round, O’Mara was in second place with a total score of 177 from the two panels of judges. Michael Hughes of Morriston, Florida was in the lead at that point with a score of 185. Chase Boggio and Shawn Cassidy were close behind the leader, each having earned 164 points.
The first round was a gymnastic type course, while the second round was a more traditional medal-type course. The top 10 riders returned for the second round, in which they received numerical scores from both panels of judges in the ring, and also a score from the judges in the schooling area, based on how the riders warmed-up and prepared their horses. The score from the schooling area judge was one, two or three points which would be added to the second round score.
In the second round, O’Mara received scores of 92 and 90 from the ring judges, plus two points from the schooling area judges, for a total of 184 in the second round and 361, overall. Michael Hughes received 171 in the second round for a total of 356, overall. The two were asked to trade horses in a ride-off to determine the final results.
In the work-off, Hughes took the reins aboard War Eagle and had a deep spot at the second fence, which opened the door for O’Mara, who had a smooth trip aboard Show Time for the win.
Third place went to Chase Boggio of Canton, Georgia, with 348 points. Boggio has been impressive all circuit long, earning ribbons in nearly every class he competed in, including the new $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derbies featured this season. Shawn Cassidy of Harriman, Tennessee finished fourth, and Taylor Ann Adams of Eads, Tennessee finished fifth.
The ribbons for the O’Mara family continued to grow, as Abby O’Mara, Meg’s older sister, earned seventh place in the class. “It’s hard to compete against her, but we give each other advice and we’re there for each other,” she said.
The R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Classic is a unique class, offered only to those who have won any USEF Medal, ASPCA Maclay, USEF Talent Search, Marshall & Sterling Junior Medal or WIHS Equitation Classic, from any series of AA-rated shows lasting for three weeks or longer, since the beginning of the year.
The course featured an array of challenges, including gymnastics, trot fences, oxers, verticals, and combinations. A difficult, and perhaps the biggest, challenge for each rider to approach is that trainers are not permitted to accompany or coach the rider during their course walk, schooling session, or performance, at any time. The rider may not leave the schooling area unless under the supervision of a steward.
“That was the first time I’ve ever had to do something like that,” said Meg O’Mara about not having her trainer with her. “I walked the course with my friends and I just did everything that I’ve been taught to do, so I felt comfortable being out there.”
Founded in 1999, the R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Classic was introduced to HITS Thermal in 2008 and made its debut at HITS Ocala in 2009.
It was a big weekend at HITS Ocala that saw Kendal Meijer win the $5,000 Adult Hunter Classic on Saturday night, and Alissa Kinsey win the $25,000 Marshall & Sterling Team Barber Children/Adult Jumper Championship on Sunday. The show grounds at HITS Post Time Farm were packed on Sunday as hundreds of spectators came out to see the final day of competition for the 2010 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Circuit Champions were crowned and perpetual trophies were awarded to the season’s top performers, while some of the biggest names in show jumping took aim at the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, with the hopes of adding to their chances of qualifying for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.
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.
2010 R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Championship at HITS Ocala
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER RD 1 SCORE RD 2 SCORE SCORE
1 War Eagle Don Stewart Meg O'Mara 177 184 361
2 Showtime Drumnacross Farm Michael Hughes 185 171 356
3 Massimo Chase Boggio Chase Boggio 164 184 348
4 Eastwood Kelly Tropin Shawn Casady 164 176 340
5 Kassandra Devon Walther Taylor Ann Adams 158 180 338
6 Figaro Catherine Billings Catherine Billings 168 166 334
7 Urco Gabby Slome Abby O'Mara 169 156 325
8 Lavazzo 2 Molly Braswell Molly Braswell 151 149 300
9 Almost Famous Don Stewart Hasbrouck Donovan 155 138 293
10 Lucky Jack Jane Iremonger Emma Kennedy 159.50 121 280.50
Photo Credits: Meg O'Mara and War Eagle on course in the R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Championship at HITS Ocala. © ESI Photography.
Meg O'Mara and War Eagle in the Winners' Circle after taking first in the R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Championship at HITS Ocala. © ESI Photography.