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Aaron Vale and Caitlin Hope take top two spots in $75,000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Aaron Vale and Spirit of Alena. Photo by Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.The $75,000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Traders Point Hunt Charity Horse Show managed by Stadium Jumping Inc., was another exciting class held on the beautiful grass field of Mrs. Sylvester Johnson's Wild Air Farm in Zionsville, IN. Excellent weather all week made for great footing for the feature class with twenty-five horse and rider combinations vying for the coveted prize and the victory gallop.

The Philip J. DeVita designed course began with a 1.50m high and 1.45m wide oxer as jump number one, followed by 4A and 4B which was a very scopey vertical, vertical combination. Another challenge was the combination set at the bottom of the famous Traders Point hill, which took its toll on a number of exhibitors, then finishing with the open water and six strides to a 1.50m vertical.

It was lucky thirteen in the order of go for Amateur Owner rider Caitlin Hope, 22, of Barrington Hills, IL, and Total Touch, who were the first clean round of the day, which wouldn't be matched until several horses later when Aaron Vale went clean on Spirit of Alena. Hope accomplished a similar feat the week before in the $25,000 Hagyard Grand Prix in Kentucky with the only clear round in the first 25 horses, finishing seventh with a double clear effort out of 51 entries.

Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, TX, and MTM Timon, were the third pair to make the jump-off list. David Beisel of Goshen, OH and Ammeretto were close, incurring only two time faults.

Hope returned first for the jump-off setting the pace at 44.811 with a clean round. Vale was able to clip seconds off that time for the win with a clean round and a time of 41.582. Fenney had an unfortunate rail at the first jump giving her the third place spot.

Hope seems to get it done without having multiple rides to accomplish the task. Total Touch, owned by Kathleen Hope, is her only Grand Prix ride but the team has been together for five years now and they are a match made in heaven.

"Matching a rider and a horse is an art," said Carney. "I knew when we tried the horse at Heartland Farm and I suggested Mrs. Hope buy the horse that it was the right horse for Caitie. What has made them a competitive pair is the consistency in training, the management in the barn and Caitie's continuing education and grand prix experience. What makes them a great pair is they trust each other from coming up the ladder through the 1.30m and 1.40m at Spruce Meadows to the 1.50m competitions now. Caitie is a small and balanced rider and Total Touch is a powerful horse with blood - they are perfect for each other. His school for each class is efficient; we are always saving jumps. Flatwork and six jumps and we go to the ring. He knows he's a good horse."

"We went 13th in the order and also 13th in the order in the $25,000 Hagyard Challenge Grand Prix in Kentucky last week so Diane said before we went yesterday that 13 is our lucky number!" smiled Hope.

"Total and I know each other so well," Hope continued. "He was very clever in spots all around the course while trying to stay under the very tight time allowed. I would say he was especially good at the oxer, vertical in and out at the bottom of the hill. He is so smart and tried his heart out there. Total is always so solid at the open water but the hard part came in the very steady six strides from the water to a 1.50m vertical. It didn't show up nice at all, but Total somehow got his legs out of the way and galloped through the timers with the crowd cheering because we were the first to go clean."

"I think Total loved the crowd and thought they were there just to see him!" laughed Hope. "He definitely performs well under pressure and I am lucky to be able to trust him so much, especially in these bigger classes that I am new to. We have such a good bond and I think that translates from the barn and into our success in the show ring."

The Amateur rider has had a great year with Total Touch, winning the $30,000 Grand Prix of St. Louis in March and second in the Welcome Stake there. She placed second in the Spring Spectacular II Welcome Stake in June and was second in the $10,000 High Jr/AO Classic as well. Hope also rides a younger horse she is bringing along with Carney and is owned by Kathleen Hope, Vision EH. The pair finished third with a double clear effort in the SJHOF class earlier in the day at Traders Point.

Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.

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