Two dozen entries lined up to contest the track for the $75,000 SummitMax Grand Prix on Saturday morning during the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. The weekly grand prix event is a staple throughout the 10-week series and brings out some of the best in equestrian sport to HITS Post Time Farm. The day’s featured event saw multiple crowd favorites with their top mounts including Aaron Vale, Hunter Holloway, Tracy Fenney, and more but the best round was produced by André Thieme (GER) with Paule S.

Nine of the 24 combinations originally listed managed to procure a fault-free first round finish across Oscar Soberon’s (USA) track and advance to the short course. Thieme bolstered his chances at a podium finish by qualifying not one but both of his morning’s mounts. With Marilyn Little LLC’s 11-year-old Oldenurg gelding (Chacco-Blue)  Chacco Hearts, Thieme produced a flawless and fast effort in 40.96 seconds, but it was with his 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Periguex) that he would find his way to the top after shaving two seconds off of his earlier time and stopping the clock in 38.63 seconds.

“When I walked the course it looked perfect and I knew it wouldn’t be too easy but also not too difficult,” Thieme detailed. “I was really happy with my horses. I knew that with Paule going first in the jump off, I could really go for it and set a statement because I had another horse after him. Then I was a little bit more conservative with my second horse because I knew I couldn’t be faster than I was with Paule. Still we ended up first and third so it worked out pretty good!”

Francois LaMontagne (CAN) found his way into the top three as he split the difference in Thieme’s times and landed in 40.20 seconds with his 16-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare (Lucciano), Chanel Du Calvaire. The pair have been in winning form throughout the past several weeks at HITS, having won the previous week’s $75,000 Ocala Marion Grand Prix. The finale of jumper competition culminated on Sunday with the $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic.

Morgan Ward Makes Moves on Jiran R to Win $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic

Another week of exciting action during the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit came to a close on Sunday, and while all rings ran full steam ahead, spectators flocked to the Grand Prix ring for the day’s featured event. Following an exciting and large jump off, the $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic found its winner in the fast combination of Morgan Ward and Jiran R.

The jumpers brought their A-game for the competition, as 14 out of 34 original starters secured a jump off spot, and eight of those contenders made it through both rounds without penalty. Ocala’s Hunter Holloway looked primed to take the win but ended up settling for second place with the Hay’s Investment Corp’s nine-year-old KWPN mare (Elvaro) entry, Kalina N, having posted a time of 40.47 seconds. Ward blazed in on the Morlynn Farm‘s 10-year-old Anglo European gelding (Winston-Jumper R) ready to leave it all on the field, and that’s exactly what the pair did, shaving four one-hundreths of a second from Holloway’s time to take the win in 40.42 seconds.

“I honestly didn’t know if I would catch up to her,” Ward explained, of following Holloway’s top round, “but my horse is so fast-footed and doesn’t spend too much time in the air, so my plan was just to keep going, especially on the rollback to the last fence. Just keep going.”

Never one to be counted out of the ribbons, Francois LaMontagne delivered another exceptional performance, this time with Groupe Zacar Inc’s eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Kannan), Lacros VDL, to secure the final spot in the victory gallop.

The ring’s classic competition kicked off with a series of featured junior/amateur events prior to the main event. The $5,000 Pyranha Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic debuted the start to a busy day ahead, and young rider Madison Kondracki landed a one-two punch to claim both the first and second positions of the class. With her 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Sir Shutterfly) Shutterfly, she posted the fastest time across the short course, landing clean in 31.12 seconds.

The $7,500 Signature Brands 1.35m Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic was up next where Paige Jones piloted Amberfax Farm, Inc’s 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Thunder Van De Vrombautshoeve Z), Tupac Van De Vrombautshoeve Z, into the pinnacle position. Jaime Alnwick took the final junior/amateur win of the day as she and Scott Keach’s 10-year-old Australian Warmblood mare (Kannan), Wild Kat, posted the best result in the $7,500 Vitaflex 1.45m Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic.

HITS Ocala Hosts Variety of Hunter Derbies During WCHR Week

During the first World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, HITS Post Time Farm hosted a wide variety of hunter derby events for all levels of hunter athletes. Derby competition got underway on Friday afternoon as professionals and junior/amateur riders took to Hunter One for the $5,000 SmartPak USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby, respectively.

A large field of 31 entries made up the open derby which featured a fast-moving hunt-and-go course. As one of the final few to tackle the track, Redfield Farm’s Karianna Knezevich masterfully piloted Fheldspar to a combined total score of 180.00 points for the win. She and the Redfield Farm’s seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Fursten-Look) were the only combination to break into the 180’s as they paired a classic round score of 89.00 with an impressive handy round earning of 91.00.

“We’ve been knocking on the door for a win for a few weeks now and I’m really proud of how he performed today,” Knezevich gushed. “As a young professional, I’m a little bit new to the WCHR program, but I made sure to enroll myself earlier this year when I got the ride on this horse. I think it’s a really cool opportunity to provide professionals with something to chase after the way amateurs do.”

Knezevich’s barnmate, Lauren Patterson, procured the red ribbon with a total score of 174.00 points on her own nine-year-old Warmblood gelding (Cornet Obolensky), Cellestino. Isaac Leffkowitz, a previous hunter derby winner at HITS, rounded out the top three on his 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Carzeno), Casimir Ice, after earning an overall score of 172.25 from the judge.

Carrying onwards, 20 pairings of the junior/amateur variety sized up the first round of the evening’s $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby. As the final class of the day, the derby featured the two-round format and the top 12 highest-ranking duos were invited to return for the handy track. Consistency was key in the second round and Emma Woodworth’s consistent scoring across both rounds of 89.00 each earned her the top placing with a total of 178.00 points. Woodworth piloted her 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cascadello II), Just Dessert.

“The derbies here at HITS are exceptional and I’m so happy I was finally able to do one, much less win my very first one,” Woodworth exclaimed. “Having a WCHR week is definitely something I look forward to as a hunter rider because the classes are a little bit bigger and the competition is incredible.

“I’ve had him for a little over a year now and he is the best horse I could ask for,” she continued of her winning partner. “He allows me to accomplish all of these goals I have. He’s super forgiving and talented, and he’s always game for whatever question I ask of him in the ring.”

Just several points off from the leading score, Casey Zuraitis and Intrepid laid down a brilliant handy round that earned them a 90.00 to combine with their classic round score of 85.00 for a 175.00 point finish. Jaime Auletto once again found her way into the ribbons with Suzanne Auletto’s seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Blue Avenue, with a score of 174.00 which earned them third place.

Three more hunter derbies took place throughout Saturday including the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby, the $1,500 Bit O’ Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby, and the $750 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby, sponsored by Mrs. Pasture’s Cookies. It was a win for Helena Timpany and Elan Farm’s 10-year-old Pony gelding (Blue Who), Unbelievablue, out of the twelve entries in the ponies. Bridget Harris and Wolver Hollow’s 15-year-old Dutch Pony (Charivari), Brighton, closed in for the second place honors, while Reilly Robertson rounded out the top three with the Robertson Family LLC’s eight-year-old Welsh Pony Cross (Clovercrofts Hero of the Heart), Clovermeade Heartthrob.

“After the first round was done I knew he was calm and liked the ring,” Timpany explained. “Then I knew the handy would be no problem. He’s very good at handy turns and very flexible; I could jump a jump and we can be turning the next step.”

Timpany also received a prize from Quail Hollow Tack for the victory.

Lee Cesary took the penultimate hunter derby win of the day after piloting her 16-year-old Warmblood gelding, Comanche, into the lead of the $1,500 Bit O’Straw Hunter Derby which left only the $750 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby to close out derby competition during WCHR week. Marita Zuraitis earned another top finish aboard her 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Inferno, to wrap up a full feature of hunter derbies.

For a full list of the week’s results, please visit