OCALA, FL (March 22, 2010)—Tracy Fenney is speeding on the road to the Pfizer Million, as she and MTM Timon, owned by MTM Farm, took home the win in Sunday’s $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group.
“The course was quite nice,” said Fenney, of Flower Mound, Texas. “I never won the $100,000 Grand Prix before so that was exciting – my husband [Mike McCormick] won it once.”
Fenney also took first in Thursday’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
“Finally!” she exclaimed, as her victories came at the last week of the circuit. “Whenever you walk the course you always hear people saying how hard this is going to be. It [the course] was challenging but I thought it was good.”
In the final and biggest Grand Prix of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, Fenney was one of the final four in the jump-off, out of a class that drew 42 horse-and-rider teams to compete on a course designed by Olaf Petersen, Sr. of Germany.
“I designed this course with several distance tasks,” said Petersen, who was pleased with the competition. “I didn’t try to build the highest course – the approach was more technical in the questions that the riders needed to answer.”
The course featured a double and triple combination which many riders in the first round failed to overcome.
Starting the class was Kristen VanderVeen on Bull Run’s Alpha & Omega, owned by Bull Run Jumpers Inc. VanderVeen, of St. Charles, Illinois, has been one of the most impressive young riders this winter at HITS Ocala, placing in six of the eight Grand Prix classes she’s competed in. VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Alpha & Omega finished 12th in the class.
The first clear round of the class came from Fenney, who was carrying the momentum from her first Grand Prix win of the season aboard MTM Centano, who she also showed on Sunday.
By the end of the first round, Gabrielle Cousin, Alexa Lowe, and former Olympian Todd Minikus joined Fenney in the jump-off.
As each rider attempted a flawless performance for the $30,000 first place purse, no rider was able to secure a clean round in the jump-off.
“The jump-off is always a risk,” said Petersen. “I noticed that when one rider would go fast with a rail down, the next would attempt to be over careful and go slower.”
Fenney was first to complete the jump-off in a time of 43.617 seconds with four faults. Despite the faults, Fenney wasn’t worried.
“I knew my horse was very careful,” she said. “When he hit the rail it came down pretty easy so I thought it could happen to everyone else, too.” Fenney was right; two of the three remaining riders dropped the very same rail in Petersen’s jump-off.
Next on course was Lowe, who owns and shows Credit Cruise. The team had eight faults in a time of 47.635 seconds which would put them in fourth place.
Lowe and Credit Cruise also took fourth in Thursday’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
When Equestrian icon Todd Minikus took the reins aboard Olinda, owned by Houlihan Lawrence, the anticipation grew as the accomplished veteran attempted to walk away with the win. However, four faults in the double combination towards the end of the course and a time of 46.982 seconds would settle him into third place.
In a last attempt for the win, Gabrielle Cousin of Canada and her horse Aramisse des Pins took home the second-place ribbon after dropping the same rail as Fenney, earning four faults in a time of 46.724 seconds.
Rounding out the top five was Erynn Ballard on Looking Back Farm's Robin Van Roosendael in fifth.
Frank DeLuca, president and owner of DeLuca Toyota, was on hand to present the awards after the Grand Prix.
"As a business owner and leader in Ocala, Florida I have been proud to be a part of HITS for the past four years as a major sponsor of the $100,000 Deluca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix," said DeLuca. "This prestigious event brings some of the top competitors in the world and many right here locally from Ocala to HITS. HITS also generates additional revenue for our community and local businesses. I feel organizations like HITS are important to our community and participants. I continue to strongly endorse all those involved with HITS and wish the best of luck to all the talented competitors."
The Road to the Pfizer Million
With back-to-back wins this week at HITS Ocala, Fenney now sits at number three in the Pfizer Million Eligible Rider Rankings on MTM Timon with $70,750 in prize money. Fenney and her husband, Mike McCormick, plan on showing at HITS Culpeper this summer. Magness also moved up thanks to Sunday's finish, and is now tied with California's Helen McNaught in sixth place with $43,000 in prize money aboard Tarco Van Ter Moude. Cousin's finish moved her from 37th to 13th in the Rider Rankings, as she now has $24,000 in prize money aboard Aramisse des Pins, while VanderVeen entered the Rankings in 24th with $12,250 in prize money aboard Bull Run's Alpha & Omega after earning her eighth qualifying Grand Prix on Sunday.
Sunday's featured class was the final Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix Qualifier offered this winter. In all, HITS hosted 35 qualifying Grand Prix classes at its circuits in California, Arizona and Florida. Riders from around the country are working to sharpen their strategy on how to make the cut for this historic class and are already looking ahead to Culpeper and Saugerties to secure the eight Grand Prix classes needed to become eligible and to win enough prize money to remain in the Top 40. There are 19 more Pfizer Million Grand Prix Qualifiers remaining at HITS Culpeper and HITS Saugerties from April through September 5. The next opportunity for riders to qualify will take place Sunday, April 25 with the $40,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Culpeper in Culpeper, Virginia.
Missed the Grand Prix action? That’s alright – you can watch every Grand Prix at HITS this season on Galopando TV at www.galopandotv.com after the event for no charge. At any time throughout the year, viewers can watch select competitions from HITS Ocala.