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Aaron Vale and Gray’s Inn deliver in the $182,000 Florida Coast Equipment Grand Prix CSI4*

Sunday, 30 June 2024
CSI4* World Equestrian Center Ocala 2024

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Aaron Vale and Gray’s Inn winning the $182,000 Florida Coast Equipment Grand Prix CSI4*. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.


Press release from World Equestrian Center - Ocala



Crowds gathered at World Equestrian Center – Ocala for the $182,000 Florida Coast Equipment Grand Prix CSI4*, eager to witness some of the world’s best competitors vie for top honors under the lights of the WEC Grand Arena. Representing twelve different nations, the field featured 22 horse-and-rider combinations on Saturday night. Hometown hero Aaron Vale (USA) emerged victorious, piloting Thinkslikeahorse’s Gray’s Inn (Cannavaro x Oscar) to his first-ever international win.

FEI Level IV course designer Alan Wade (IRL) set the complex tracks for Saturday’s event, where only five combinations managed to find the key to a clear round. The strong jump-off field consisted of riders from Ireland, Spain, the United States, Austria, and Brazil.

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Darragh Kerins and Lissino jumping to second place. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Darragh Kerins (IRL) was the first to return, piloting Eve Jobs’ 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding Lissino (Guardus Llmbus x San Patrignano Cassini) to a quick track, setting the pace at 38.23 seconds, ultimately enough to secure second place. Gonzalo Busca (ESP) followed, giving a solid performance aboard Steven Bluman’s Pinot Gris Di Fer but incurred an unfortunate rail in 38.86 seconds.

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Celso Ariani and Jip Van T&L Z rounding out the top three. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Aaron Vale (USA) was third to go and optimistic with Thinkslikeahorse’s Gray’s Inn. “He’s my wife’s horse, so I don’t get on him very often. I know the horse and see him every day, but she does 95 percent of the riding,” he shared. “He had a great night on Thursday, so I felt pretty good heading into the class tonight. I watched Darragh and he was quite good. He did nine back to [fence three], and I thought it would be the nine. But I got down the first eight so easily, I started my turn early because I had the balance right on top of the fence. So, I got over in eight and another eight to the combination. I had to push to get to the liverpool in nine, and I was thinking there was a possible seven coming home, but my horse wasn’t in perfect balance at the second-to-last jump, so I gave him a break and a moment to figure out how to clear it.” 

The pair flew over the final fence, not touching a single rail, in a mere 36.32 seconds to take the top spot on the leaderboard. 

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Aaron Vale and Gray’s Inn accepting their first place awards presented by Jim Wolf of World Equestrian Center, Timmothy Morris; Business Development Manager at Florida Coast Equipment and Isaiah Webb; Ocala Sales Manager at Florida Coast Equipment. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Gray’s Inn isn’t Vale’s usual partner; his wife, Mallory Vale, has been riding the talented 10-year-old Warmblood gelding since he was six. “It was my wife’s idea,” laughed Vale. “She’s been asking me for a long time, ‘Do you want my horse?’ and I always said no. She’s been doing so well with him and knocking on the door. But this week, I didn’t have a horse, so she told me I was showing her horse, and the rest is history. What a production my wife has made for me, allowing me to step in and win a class like this.”

Two more riders remained after Vale and Gray’s Inn’s impressive round. Peter Petschenig (AUT) put in a solid performance aboard Petschenig Showjumping LLC’s Ennebel Van Het Posthuijs but had an unlucky rail in 38.23 seconds. 

Celso Ariani (BRA) was last to go, piloting his new partner Jip Van T&L Z (James Vd Kornelishoeve x Toulon), a 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by The Maya Group Properties LLC, to a clear round in 41.76 seconds for a podium finish.

Todd Bachman, President and CEO of Florida Coast Equipment, shared his thoughts about Saturday night’s event, “The riders and horses were truly spectacular tonight. We are extremely proud of our partnership with World Equestrian Center. The Roberts Family’s vision aligns with our values, and we at Florida Coast Equipment, alongside Kubota, are grateful to play a part in creating such memorable events.”

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