Taylor Adams & Kassandra Take a Bow and Vale Goes Double Platinum at Jacksonville Winter Series Finale

Green Cove Springs, FL -  Ocala, Florida based Taylor Adams began the curtain calls for the 2010 Jacksonville Winter Series on Friday evening with a big win in the $10,000 Bruning Equitation Classic, presented by the Jerry Parks Insurance Group.

Adams partnered with the Devon Walther owned Kassandra bested a field of 15 over an intricate layout of 11 obstacles co-designed by  international great Pierre Jolicoeur and Joe Carnicom. The course zig-zagged the length of the covered arena as a test of each rider’s ability to collect and balance a horse, not just hand gallop or leave out strides. Offering options designed to engage the competitors’ mind.  

“She’s a beautiful girl! Never puts a foot wrong- she’s Wonder Horse!” Adams complimented of “Kassie”, the 9 year-old Wurttenburg mare, who trains with the highly respected Bibby Hill. The pair began the first round 14h in the order and executed a beautiful first ride earning them a score of 89. “I usually get really nervous and push her. This morning I did that and she pretty much told she didn’t like that! So tonight I just trusted my horse…I was hyperventilating. ” a laughing Adams said following her victory gallop. This evening’s course gave judges John Roper, Pat Dodson, and Diane Braun plenty of technical bends and sweeping turns to ensure an overview of the best and worst of each rider.  Only 4 competitors were asked to return for a final test over 5 obstacles requiring both a hand gallop and cross canter along the way.

“The test was actually interesting and really tricky.” began Adams of the final round, “There were lots of decisions, every turn was a decision. You could have gone inside, you could have gone around, and you could have done a flying change. We all felt a little confused and nervous. I have to give props to those who went before me- Abby, Chelsey, Megan, and the lot. I was last and still hyperventilating, but took a deep breath and made the best choices I could. ”  Drawing on experience and instructions learned from trainer Bibby Hill that paid off nicely as Adams clinched the victory.

Adams, who is now sweet 16, does high school level home schooling through the University of Nebraska and has proven time and time again she is a force to be reckoned with when the stakes are high, having achieved several national junior equitation, hunter, and even pony Championship titles in her short budding career. “I’m almost done!" she said regarding high school. Asked what the future may hold Adams replied, “I really haven’t decided, if I go on to college I’ll still ride and my trainers are encouraging me to go head to college so I’m looking into Auburn.” Her first choice being an NCAA level equestrian team because, “I’m so competitive and want to be the best and I don’t see any point in doing anything less than the best.” The precocious Adams’ top priority is simply, “to grow up to be a good person…and never lose the fun and enjoyment of riding.” Short term goals include continuing to compete with Kassie in Florida for the balance of the winter season.

Rounding out the top spots in the $10,000 Bruning Equitation Classic, 2nd place went to Chelsey Zulia riding Convent 8 for owner Arcadia Farm. 3rd place to Abby O’Mara and Urco for owner Gabby Slome and 4th to Terrapin Station partnered with Meg O’Mara for owner Abby O’Mara.  

In this week’s featured attraction on Saturday evening under the lights, the $25,000 Jacksonville Finale Grand Prix, presented by North Florida Hunter Jumper Association, it was Ocala, Florida based Aaron Vale once again celebrating a Platinum win.  

Having won last weekend’s A to Z Grand Prix, Vale and 15 year-old Dutch bred Platinum (owned by ABC 4 Horses) bested another veteran field that included the likes of Canadian great Hugh Graham, fellow Millionaires Club member Wilhelm Genn, and always competitive pro David Jennings. All were up against the 81 second allowance of a huge oxer heavy layout by Pierre Jolicoeur.  Round one proved to be more of a controlled run with the goal to simply clear the jumps. A task 11 horses would breeze through with great confidence. Vale brought both his mounts clear, Peasus (owned by Kristin Beyer) with a time of 72.687 and Platinum in 77.076.  

The real challenge came in the jump off round, where Jolicoeur proved he had no intentions of an easy payday for anyone. “It was a really fast jump off!” an exuberant Vale first said of the 48 second limited 8 effort roller coaster tracks. “I had an early ride in there and that horse [Peasus] is a newer one to me and I got him around as quick as I could, but it wasn’t quick enough.”

The pair finished clean in 39.252 just under first in the order Wilhelm Genn and the Laura Ryan-Barnaclo entry Chantal’s time of 38.927. One consolation for Vale before having to return last in the order with Platinum came from being able to watch a few go before him and plot out his strategy. “I watched as David Jennings took the lead and some others go. I knew there were a couple of spots where I thought I could take a step out. After #2 [vertical starting fence] he was really quick moving left to get over towards the combination [5ab- oxer to vertical]  and he was real fast over to the triple bar so I kind of felt like I was on the time.” Vale shared.

His biggest concern was not to over rush the last two jumps and have one come down, yet remember that it was in fact a very quick pace he was chasing. “It was real hard to keep your horses off the #12 [an angled plank vertical] in the jump off, they really wanted to cut the corner and duck in to have that one down, but it just came up real good for me. I found a path and a distance with enough room so that even if he cut in I was still ok.” Vale said. At this point the race was down to Jennings with his mount Marcus Aurelius’ leading time of 38.789 and Vale’s desire of going double Platinum. “It was fun!” Vale said soon after the timers showed the duo’s clocking in victory at 37.525.  

Another possible motivation for Vale’s stellar performance was his excitement in knowing his mother was cheering from the stands. “She hasn’t gotten to see me jump too many grand prix in the last several years, but she flew down from New York so that made it even more fun for me.” Vale beamed as he headed off to visit with her.

Top placings for the $25,000 Jacksonville Finale were:1st Place Aaron Vale and Platinum –owner ABC 4 Horses 37.525 clean

  • 2nd Place David Jennings and Marcus Aurelius- owner D Jennings 38.789 clean
  • 3rd Place Wilhelm Genn and Chantal- owner Laura Ryan-Barnaclo 38.927 clean
  • 4th Place Aaron Vale and Peasus- owner Kristin Beyer 39.252 clean
  • 5th Place Wilhelm Genn and Loredo- owner Micaela Kennedy   40.925 clean

For more information or results on the 2010 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit www.classiccompany.com.