Agatha D'Ambra couldn't wipe an excited smile off her face Sunday as she waited patiently to take a victory gallop aboard Trade Winds Farm's Udiana. The Rexford, New York professional and her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare jumped to a $22,500 payday in the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, at HITS Saugerties this weekend.
"She's a show horse through and through – she's competitive and fiery. - She fights really hard to win and she was electrified today," said D'Ambra of the mare she affectionately calls Udy around the barn. Agatha and Udiana have been partnered in the show ring for just over a year and this weekend marked the second-ever grand prix win for both of them.
Martin Otto of Muenster, Germany designed a technical track where striding and a steady stream of broken lines put an end to more than half the field's attempts at clear rounds. Difficult, but fair, according to D'Ambra, Otto's course produced four clean rounds.
"Overall, it was a great course – it was very technical and there were a lot of options," said D'Ambra. "I had a plan, but I definitely didn't stick to it once I saw all the variations in striding and approaches. It's a little difficult for her [Udiana] because she doesn't have the biggest stride in the world, but she is very forward, so I had to decide whether I was going to go for the leave out, or add and be a little patient."
Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, Florida wasted no time in proving that the first-round course was rideable. As the first go of the day, Minikus and his own Quality Girl posted a clear ride within the time allowed and looked to make it two-in-a-row during Week II of HITS Saugerties. The duo won Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis. Five trips later, D'Ambra and Udiana guaranteed a jump-off. They were later joined by Patty Stovel of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania on her own Carigor Z and Peter Wylde of Lake Worth, Florida in the irons of Societe Civile de L'Ecurie Meautry's AK's Clowney.
Minikus returned first in the jump-off and had every eye in the Strongid© C 2X Grand Prix Stadium on him has he crossed the timers in a blistering 42.99 seconds. His excitement was short-lived, however, when a glance back over his shoulder revealed the back rail of the final oxer had come down.
D'Ambra returned next with one goal – to make it or break it. "Honestly, there were only four, so I knew I just had to go for it, and I did. She [Udiana] was amazing, she was so fast. She was turning tight, she was looking for the next jump every time and she was just on it."
Udiana left her short-strided reputation behind after the first fence of the jump-off. The line from the first fence to the second begged for a forward gallop and, according to D'Ambra, Udiana opened her stride four more feet and flew. They finished the jump-off course clear in 44.04 seconds.
Stovel and Carigor Z were clear, but just over two seconds slow for the lead, finishing with a time of 46.52 seconds. Wylde and AK's Clowney had a rail at the vertical at fence six to pick up four faults in a time of 47.11 seconds.
Stovel ended in second, Minikus third and Wylde fourth. While two time faults kept them from the jump-off, Jimmy Torano of SW Ranches, Florida and Marley Goodman's Blue Sky Van de Olmenhoeve capped the top five.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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