Scott Keach could not have been happier with the way his young horse performed yesterday in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis at HITS Ocala. The Australia native, now residing in Ocala, Florida, and CoCo, owned by Anne Quanbeck, bested a field of 34 for the win and look forward to competing in the $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, at the conclusion of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit March 17.
During Week III, Keach and CoCo had an unlucky rail in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, to keep them out of the top five, but scored a redeeming ride yesterday over a course designed by Martin Otto of Muenster, Germany. With a double combination, a triple combination and a an option to jump either the open water or a big oxer on the rail at fence eight, Otto’s course proved to be nothing short of exciting with six clear rounds to move on to the jump-off.
“The hardest part for us was choosing to jump the water, because she [CoCo] just hasn’t seen a lot of it yet,” said Keach about the nine-year-old Holsteiner mare that was imported from Europe only a year and a half ago. “She has been jumping really well lately, getting some grand prix experience and I was really happy with her today – she felt like she just knew what she was doing and the course suited her really well.”
Keach returned in the middle of the jump-off and saw three rides before him. The first clear was Laura Linback of Mundelin, Illinois, setting the Great American Time To Beat at 47.24 seconds in the irons of Woodrun’s HH Dauphin. She was soon bumped from the top spot by Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas aboard MTM Farm’s MTM Timon with a time of 45.15 seconds. Dubbed the queen of the grand prix ring at HITS Ocala, Fenney’s jump-off speed is typically not easy to beat. This time, however, her lead was short-lived as Keach and CoCo followed with a clean round in 44.81 seconds. The two trips that followed were clear and juggled the top-five order, but left Keach’s lead intact. “Sometimes things just work to your advantage in the jump-off and today was one of those times for us,” said Keach.
Fenney held on to second while Germany’s Andre Thieme and his own Contanga 3 rode to third with a jump-off time of 46.34 seconds. Linback finished fourth and Jared Petersen of Archer, Florida rode to fifth with Derek Petersen’s Titus 2:11. David Jennings of Franklin, Tennessee and Full Circle Farm’s Queen of Calla picked up eight faults in the jump-off for sixth place.
Keach has high hopes for CoCo and looks forward to showing in the $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, at the end of the HITS Ocala circuit. “If she keeps improving, she may even have a shot at the [Zoetis] $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties, but time will tell,” he said.
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