David Beisel, of Goshen, Ohio, took first place in Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix on Ammeretto, owned by Equine Holdings, LLC.
The Grand Prix took place in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium with a large crowd of spectators gathered around to watch the spectacle under beautiful, sunny skies. There were 16 efforts in the first round course designed by Coronado, California’s Jack Robson. Fifteen jumped first round clears which set the stage for an exciting jump-off against the clock.
The jump-off started with the first fence from Round 1 (the Brook Ledge) in the opposite direction, then a left rollback to fence six which was changed to a vertical, a gallop and right rollback to fence eight, a half circle right to fence seven and a left turn to the combination 4a and 4b finishing over fence 10 going the opposite way from the first round. Fence 12 from the first round was removed to allow the riders to cut the turn from the first to the second fence in the jump-off.
Beisel and Amaretto went first — and so fast that none of the 14 other horses behind him could beat his time. The crowd whooped and hollered as he galloped and the bay stallion turned around the short course, finishing clear in 36.324, setting the Great American Time to Beat that held up the entire second round.
Andre Thieme of Germany qualified three for the jump-off. His first entry was Contanga 3, the winner of last year’s Great American $1 Million Grand Prix and Thursday’s SmartPak Grand Prix. His split time was on track to take the lead but a rail late in the course slowed him to 37.494 with four faults.
Next up was Amanda Flint of Long Valley, New Jersey, riding the Coverboy Group’s Superbad, who proved that the winning time could be beaten but had a rail at 4a of the combination for 4 faults in 36.321. Fence 4a fell six times in the jump-off.
Five more tried but failed to jump clear until Thieme returned to the ring on his second mount, Conthendrix. The pair cleared the course with ease, stopping the clock just short of the winning time in 36.823 to place second. Scott Keach of Reddick, Florida, riding Southern Cross Equestrian, LLC’s Viriato, was next to jump clear in a slightly more conservative 39.432 for third. Thieme returned on Seth Vallhonrat’s Cellisto to ride a slow clear in 46.448 for fourth to round out the double-clears.
Beisel said of Ammeretto, a 10 year old stallion by Numero Uno, whom he has had for seven years, “I had the fastest time in Thursday’s Prix with the last jump down so I was pretty sure if I was clear that I could be fast enough to win. For a little horse, he has a humongous stride. He’s a good turner and he’s crafty so I could go a little faster than the big horses to the combination. I gave him a week off before Nations Cup and he came out way too fresh and amped up that week. It was nice to have him back in form.”
Thieme, who had three in the jump-off and placed second, fourth and ninth, was happy with his results. “I was hoping on my first horse (Contanaga 3) to go for the win but he had a rail. The second one (Conthendrix) I thought I might have had it and it almost worked. He was second. The last one (Cellisto) I knew I had no chance for the win. I rode him for my friend Seth Vallhonrat and it was his first Grand Prix so I just rode for clean. My horses are jumping well so I am not complaining,” said Thieme, who is looking to defend his title in the Great American Million on March 23. (Beisel and Ammeretto placed seventh in the class.)
Third-place Keach, was pleased with his horse saying, “You can always go quicker but for where my horse is in his training it was very good.”
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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