Aaron Vale does it Again at HITS Ocala
Aaron Vale Claims Another HITS Ocala Grand Prix Win and Cassandra Kahle Near Perfect in the USHJA National Hunter Derby
The Ocala Tournament, Week VII of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, welcomed riders back to the Winner's Circle in more featured competition, including the $150,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix and $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Hunter riders were on their 'A-Game' gearing up for World Champion Hunter Rider Week at the Ocala Winter Finals (VIII) next week. There is still plenty of time to earn points toward the Tack Shack of Ocala 2nd-Half Circuit and Pyranha Overall Circuit Awards, which will be presented during the Ocala Championship (X). Also just around the corner is the seventh Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 28 - watch live on ShowHorse TV!
For the second week in a row, Aaron Vale took the top spot in the $5,000 Open Welcome aboard M LEBRON for Thinkslikeahorse, crossing the timers in 38.798.
With a 'can't be beat' attitude, Hunter Holloway and PEPITA CON SPITA, owned by Hays Investment Corp., claimed another Grand Prix win at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Nine riders jumped a clean first round in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, and Holloway bested the field in the jump-off breaking the 40-second mark as she posted 39.513 for the blue ribbon.
Jumper Classic Winners
$1,000 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic - Low: Aiva Gamelin & SANITA PJ
$1,500 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic - Medium: Emma Ledin & WROZBITA
$2,000 M&S/NAL/WIHS Child Jumper Classic - High: Sophia Ayers & FOR FASHION
$2,000 M&S/NAL/WIHS Adult Jumper Classic - High:
Christina Kourgelis & STAKKADERA
$2,500 Pyranha NAL Jr/A-O/Am 1.25m Jumper Classic:
Madison Kondracki & SHUTTERFLY
$5,000 Jr/A-O/Am 1.35m Jumper Classic: Jessie Goodwin & BULL RUN'S NOEL
$7,500 U-Dump Jr/A-O/Am 1.45m Jumper Classic: Hayley Waters & JUST LUCK
The stakes were high in Sunday's $150,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix at HITS Post Time Farm. Nine riders jumped clean over the first round course designed by Martin Otto of Munster, Germany. Between the first round and the jump-off, as the riders made their preparations, the Marion County Therapeutic Association held a Calcutta which raised nearly $12,000 for the charity as part of their annual fundraiser.
Vale, who had two horses in the jump-off, ended the week just the same as he started it - in the Winner's Circle. It took just six hundredths of a second for Vale to recapture the lead as the last to go in the jump-off, in a time of 34.099 aboard PRESCOTT for Thinkslikeahorse.
"It was a brilliant design by Martin [Otto]. I know they wanted to have a few clean to do an auction and raise some money for MTRA," said Vale. "He did a beautiful job building a nice course that was still difficult, with just enough horses in the jump off to make it a really good class."
Vale's first ride over the shortened course was aboard CANDRO VAN DE ZUUTHOEVE. "The jump-off started off with a fast round and kept getting better from there. It was a really fast jump-off - for my first horse [CANDRO], it really suited him. When I went on him and got in front of Hunter [Holloway], I thought that might have been enough to win the class. I was wrong," Vale laughed.
Vale's second horse, PRESCOTT, was the mount he won the Week III Grand Prix on. "He's [PRESCOTT] a bit younger and less experienced, but he's a little lighter and quicker naturally - so I went in with the plan and galloped to 1, ran down to 2 and if that came up good keep going to 3," said Vale. "I got 1, 2, 3 really fast, so at that point I knew I was right on it. I thought I was on the time or even ahead. I had a pretty good feeling that I had done enough to win it and this time I was right!"
2nd Place: Rowan Willis & BLUE MOVIE [34.163]
3rd Place: Vale & CANDRO VAN DE ZUUTHOEVE [34.312]
Historically, HITS Ocala Week VII has been special due in part to the annual fundraiser for the Marion County Therapeutic Riding Association (MTRA) which has become one of the organizations largest fundraisers. "With our pop-up Calcutta we raised $11,900, half of which was going to go to whoever bought the rider in the Calcutta and it turned out that Mallory [Vale] bought Aaron [Vale]. They generously donated back their entire winnings, which was $5,900, so the MTRA will get $11,900 just from the Calcutta," said Dana Waters on the MTRA Fundraiser at HITS Ocala. "We also did four pool draws and each winner received $250 and the rest will be donated to the charity. There was a lot of comradery, bidding each other up in the Calcutta and it was so fun! It so nice that the riders in these hard times will consider the less fortunate who really missed coming today and riding in the lead line and doing all the fun things with Kids Day. Hopefully next year it's bigger and better because we get so much support here at HITS. Tom always lets us have a nice event here and it has become our biggest fundraiser and we are so appreciative!"
The second of three $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derbies was held alongside the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix during Week VII. There is featured Hunter Competition every week including the Platinum Performance and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix that count toward the HITS Championship at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York, as well as Junior/Amateur-Owner and Children's/Adult Hunter Classics.
Not only was Cassandra Kahle awarded the top spot in featured hunter competition for the second week in a row, but she also made it a one two finish. This week Kahle rode CHORUS to near perfect scores in the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Kahle scored a 96 in the first round and followed that with a 99 in the Handy round for a total of 195. There's still one more $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby during Week VIII, along with a second $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, HITS Ocala X.
2nd Place: Kahle & GIVENCHY 
3rd Place: Vale & JAGERBOMB [180.85]
The blue ribbon in the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix was awarded to Adair Moses and BAZZI. To earn the blue ribbon, Moses scored a 79 in the first round and an 83 in the second round for a total of 162.
2nd Place: Annie Walsh & LITTLE BOY BALOU 
3rd Place: Casey Alworth & ON THE DARKSIDE 
Hunter Classic Winners
$1,000 USHJA Green Hunter Incentive: Hunt Tosh & WOODFORD
$1,000 A-O Hunter Classic - 3'6": Jaime Auletto & IDOLIZE
$1,000 Eastern Hay A-O Hunter Classic - 3'3": Nicole Lyvere & MY EVERYTHING
$1,000 Antares Junior Hunter Classic - 3'6": Maddie Tosh & CASANOVA
$1,000 Junior Hunter Classic - 3'3": Fiona Von Hartleben & FACETIME
$1,000 Perfect Products Pony Hunter Classic: M. Tosh & BRIXTON
$500 M&S NAL/WIHS SmartPak Adult Hunter Classic: Rachel DeMuro & SAMBA
$500 M&S NAL/WIHS Child Hunter Classic - Horse: Alworth & ON THE DARKSIDE
$500 M&S NAL/WIHS Child Hunter Classic - Pony: Harley Hott & YOU'RE THE ONE
M&S Bit O' Straw Hunter Classic: Niffer Cancian & CHECKANDINO
Click here for the full listing of results from the HITS Ocala Tournament.
USEF-Rated Premier/5* competition continues next week with the HITS Ocala Winter Finals, March 9-14. HITS Ocala VIII features World Champion Hunter Rider Week where Hunters will shine in the Grand Prix Arena. Riders can also look forward to the final $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby of the Circuit. Don't miss out - the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit continues with more competition and fun at HITS Post Time Farm! For more information or to enter for the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, click here.
If we can answer any questions or provide any additional information as you make your plans for the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, please do not hesitate to contact us at 352.620.2275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Enter today!
Watch Live on ShowHorse TV
HITS and ShowHorse TV are excited to announce Live Stream Services at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Viewers can now watch the Grand Prix Stadium LIVE every day at ShowHorse TV. Weekly subscriptions to access video-on-demand of classes and individual rider clips are also available starting at $49! Watch live on ShowHorse TV or download from the App Store or Google Play store to watch on the go. Showhorse TV is also available on AppleTV and Roku!