Ocala, FL- The winter show season has begun at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida. On Thursday, riders and horses settled into the beautiful, Horse Capital of the World for Week I of the two-week HITS Holiday Series.
The featured classes of Holiday I kicked off with the $2,500 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome, where Debbie McCarthy Connor of Patterson, New York, would swoop in to top the field aboard the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Zim, owned by Connor & Ebetino Jumpers, LLC.
"I love HITS, and I am very enthusiastic about Johnson Horse Transportation sponsoring the Open Welcome at the shows," said McCarthy Connor. "The course was challenging and it was a great way to start out the week— we will be here up until we show through the Ocala Winter Circuit."
The course rode quickly with a maximum time allowed of 47 seconds in the immediate jump-off. Out of the seven that advanced to the jump-off, McCarthy Connor and Zim would be the only team to clear the shortened course for first place.
"The course was set strategically well for the uphill portions, the challenge was keeping your horse balanced throughout," said McCarthy Connor. "I was very happy with Zim's performance."
Second place would go to Kim Farlinger of Orangeville, Ontario, and Caprice van de Brouwershoeve, owned by Kim Farlinger Stables, LTD. They were thwarted by a rail at A of the mid-course combination, but would still cross the timers with the speediest four-fault round in 38.099.
Just behind Farlinger was Lake St. Louis, Missouri, equestrian Andrew Kocher, piloting Ciana, owned by Eagle Valley Partners, LLC. They too would have a rail at the A element of the combination, clocking in at 38.615 for the third place prize.
Kocher would also garner the final spot in the top five with Benneton Van de Bleukhoeve, owned by BTS Entertainment & Sales. Fourth place would go home with Roberto Daza of Altamonte Springs, Florida, riding Biscayo.
Week I of the HITS Holiday Series continues with two Grand Prix and many other special, featured classes.