Andres Rodriguez and Caballito won the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health on Thursday at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala to kick off a weekend of action-packed show jumping. High-Performance riders were out in full force yesterday as international course designer Martin Otto of Munster, Germany, made his debut designing courses in the Grand Prix field at HITS Ocala.
Rodriguez, originally of Venezuela and now residing in Wellington, Florida, was one of 16 to make it to the jump-off from the original 39 horse-and-rider combinations. “The course was friendly,” he said. “Everyone wants to see a jump off with people going as fast as they can and I’m glad there was a jump off that the crowd could get into, because that’s what makes this sport exciting”.
In the jump-off, Daniel Damen and Fox Meadow Farm’s Cosmo quickly set the time to beat at 35.48 seconds. They would be the first of five to go double clear out of the substantial jump-off roster. Two trips later, Tracy Fenney and MTM Timon returned and quickly took the lead away from Damen in a blazing fast 31.44 seconds. So far, Fenney has had an impressive circuit capturing both the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, two weeks ago at the Ocala Premiere. In Thursday’s feature class, Fenney’s time would hold up for only so long, as six trips later the lead went to Rodriguez when he and Caballito blazed through the track and crossed the timers in 31.41 seconds, just a hair faster than Fenney.
“I saw her [Fenney] round and she was so fast,” said Rodriguez. “I knew I could get second, but I really wanted to win it! I watched Tracy go and [in regard to the final fence]—I knew there was not enough space to get straight to that last jump, so I just did the turn and hit the distance. Sometimes you need a little luck.”
With seven more trips left in the jump-off the crowd eagerly waited to see if any of the remaining challengers would top the new pace set by Rodriguez. A few failed attempts later, Petersen was the next rider to put up a clean round and it looked as though he was on pace to catch Rodriguez, but when he crossed the timers in 31.55 seconds the moan of the crowd told him that he didn’t quite have it. Looking to take back the lead, Fenney entered the ring next on her second mount, MTM Centano and they had the pace beat, but at the second-to-last-fence they dropped a rail and finished with four jumping faults in 30.75 seconds. In the end, Fenney finished second aboard MTM Timon and sixth aboard MTM Centano, while Petersen held onto third place.
Rodriguez and 10 year-old Caballito are now officially on the road to the Pfizer Million. “I hope to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix with him and will be sure to be back for Sunday’s Grand Prix, and the $100,000 [Sullivan GMC Truck] Grand Prix, [presented by Great American Insurance Group] week VII.”
Source: Press release from Hits Shows
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