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Callan Solem on VDL Wizard wins Hits Grand Prix over challenging course

Saturday, 07 February 2015
HITS Ocala Winter Circuit 2015

Callan Solem and VDL Wizard. Photo (c) ESI Photography.
Callan Solem and VDL Wizard. Photo (c) ESI Photography.

Course designer Danny Foster of Milton, Ontario, gave the entries in Sundays $50,000 Hits Grand Prix a daunting course of 17 efforts and a time allowed that took no mercy. Only two riders jumped clear within the allotted time to advance to the jump-off: winner Callan Solem on Horseshoe Trail Farm LLC’s VDL Wizard and Tracy Fenney on MTM Farm’s MTM Centano.

Solem, of Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, had two rides in the class, and, as the seventh to attempt the course, she and VDL Wizard, were the first to finish without a fault. It took 17 more entries before a jump-off was assured, when Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas, aboard MTM Centano also went clean. In the jump-off, Solem and VDL Wizard rode beautifully and finished with a clear round in a time of 49.739 to put the pressure on Fenney. Fenney planned to leave out a stride between fence 6 and 7a, but her horse’s huge stride got her there too early and he had a rail.  Fenney chose to retire after the rail, and Solem claimed the victory with VDL Wizard while her other horse, VDL Torlando, finished fifth.

Solem said of VDL Wizard, “I’m just so lucky to have this horse to ride. He’s such a special horse. It’s so nice on these winter circuits to have the opportunity to jump courses by different course designers and they all ask different questions and you come out with a really produced horse. I’ve had this horse since he was a 7-year-old but he’s really just gotten into top form in the last nine months or so. I knew he was ready for a win.”

Fenney said she had planned to leave out a stride between fence 6 and 7a and commented after the class, “I did the seven in the first round and planned the six in the jump-off. I put a little curve in it but not enough and got there too early and had the rail. He just covers so much ground.”

MTM Centano owner Mike McCormick of MTM Farm in Flower Mound, Texas, said, “It was a big hard class. A lot of lines you had to come back in. Some were long and flat, a couple were really tight. It provided a lot of questions and the questions always had to be answered by a really, really careful horse that had to be scopey. The slowdown five after the triple to the giant oxer really called on your horse’s scope.”

Haley Gassel of Lenoir City, Tennessee, riding Westwind Equine Training Center’s Quite Dark 2, who finished with just one time fault but in a time of 91.244 in the first round to earn third place.

Sulu Rose Reed from Mechanicsville, Virginia, riding her own Envy, went first in the class with no jumping faults but was also just over the time allowed for one time fault in 91.559 seconds and fourth place. “I started out over the first three jumps a little slow. I was a little cautious on the turn from one to two,” she said.

Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

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