After jumping to the top of Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas found success again today in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, this time aboard MTM Farm's Centano. Lucky enough to have two grand prix mounts to choose from, she also capped the ribbons in twelfth with Friday's victor, MTM Timon.
Twenty-three combinations made up the starting field and jumped a course set by Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, Florida. The original track included 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts, including a double combination at the sixth fence and a triple two jumps later.
The buzz about today's grand prix was the all-new Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. The Stadium was constructed for special classes at the 2014 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, including the inaugural Great American $1 Million Grand Prix to be held on March 24. Today's $50,000 Grand Prix was the first grand prix to be jumped on it.
"The Ocala Horse Properties Stadium is a game changer here in Ocala. This new ring will open the door to hosting International Jumping Events at Post Time Farms," HITS President and CEo Tom Struzzieri, who flew to Florida from the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California for the ring's debut.
"The crew here in Ocala did an exceptional job to preparing this side of the property for the first of many Grand Prix events. While aesthetics are important, any ring is judged by the quality of the ground. All involved, most importantly myself, were thrilled with this product," he added. "This footing will assure that the jumping in the Great American Million ill be extraordinary. The horses want to jump brilliantly off this ground and I imagine that Bernardo Cabral will have his work cut out for him in designing a suitable challenge."
With twenty-three in the first round and 11 advancing to the jump-off, speed was the number-one priority. True to form, Fenney and MTM Centano did what they do best – they went fast. They were third to challenge the jump-off course and set the Great American Time to Best with the first clear round in 46.02 seconds.
"I knew that the riders behind me could go fast, and anyone in the jump-off could have come away with the win," said Fenney. "Going early in the jump-off, I didn't have much of a choice but to go as fast as I could and try and put as much pressure on them as possible."
Fenney had eight challengers to ride behind her and spared no time in making their jobs a real test. Even she admits that sometimes her competitors underestimate MTM Centano. "Centano is a really big horse, so most people look at him and assume he is slow," said Fenney of the gelding who has proved to be anything but slow. "His stride is deceiving because he covers so much ground."
Derek Braun of Lexington, Kentucky was the next to ride clear in the irons of Split Rock Farm, Inc.'s Cyraneiky. Despite the clear trip, their time of 50.19 seconds was a full four seconds slower than Fenney's, landing them in second. Daniel Damen of Ocala, Florida challenged two trips later with a clear round aboard Chuck & Dana Waters' Quintus 66. Their time of 50.21 seconds, just three one-hundredths behind Braun,settled them in third.
The fourth and final double-clear effort of the day came from Jordan Coyne of New Port Richey, Florida and her own Cordovo. They were handed fourth-place honors after posting a time of 51.17 seconds. Lisa Goldman of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, who won both grand prix during week I, capped the topped five on Mary Goldman's Centurion B. She was fractions faster than Fenney in 45.39 seconds, but took down a rail at the second-to-last jump to pick up four faults.
Grand Prix competition continues at HITS Ocala during the Ocala Premiere next week with another $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix and $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, both presented by Zoetis.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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