Ocala, FL- The $50,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Grand Prix was an exciting and competitive class on Sunday at the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium.
Australian equestrian Scott Keach and his 12-year-old Olympic mount Fedor, owned by Southern Cross Equestrian of Reddick, Florida, was the fastest of four double clear rounds to take home the win in the opening week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit.
“This is only the second class that Fedor has jumped this season,” said Keach. “I was unable to watch any of the other riders in the jump-off, so I just went as quickly as I could.”
Brandi Holloway from Topeka, Kansas, and Lucky Strike, owned by Hays Investment Corp., was second. Third place went to Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas, on MTM Reve du Paradis.
The course of 16 elements was designed by Mauricio Garcia of Archer, Florida, Twenty six horse and rider combinations tackled the first round course with twelve jumping first round clears.
The jump-off included several roll backs, the b and c elements of the triple and finished over two separate airy verticals. Twelve horses in the jump-off assured everyone a piece of the prize money so everyone put pedal to the metal to earn a bigger piece of the pie.
First to go clear was Fenney on MTM Reve du Paradis. Fenney and the grey were just nosed out of a win in Thursday’s Smartpak Grand Prix and put in another outstanding round to stop the clock at 39.246 to take the temporary lead.
The next two to jump-off, Mattias Tromp and Nicole Bellisimo had 12 faults each before Brandi Holloway and Lucky Strike took their shot. Angling the last jump paid off with a new Great American Time to Beat of 39.091 to take the lead.
Moving ahead in the order while Fenney prepped her second mount, Fedor and Keach jumped a clear round riding the same track but with Fedor’s quicker style in the air, they were to shave a fraction off of Holloway’s time to take the lead in 38.728.
Fenney returned on MTM Como No only to have a rail at the second to last fence, but they finished as the fastest with four faults for eventual fifth place.
Vale and Bonzini S had 8 faults to finish in eighth place. Charlie Jayne and the super athletic Playboy appeared to have the winning time until they visibly slowed down in the approach to the last jump to finish clear with the fourth fastest time of 40.351.
Two more jumped off but no one was able to match the double clear performances of the top four.
Keach was pleased with his horse’s performance, and hopes to build on this week’s win with all of his horses. “I plan on staying at HITS Ocala throughout the season. I have several young horses to bring along as well as Fedor and HITS offers the variety of classes I need for all of them.”
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.