Andre Thieme & CHAKARIA Win the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix
It was a perfect day at HITS Ocala for the seventh Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, where riders from near and far took their shot at the coveted title and the winner's share of $350,000. The sun was shining as previous Million Winners, first time Million riders, Grand Prix and Olympic Veterans, and newcomers were welcomed under the HITS arch into the Grand Prix Stadium for the richest class in the world so far in 2020 and 2021. Not only was this the seventh Great American Million, but it was also the 22nd $1 Million Grand Prix hosted by HITS.
Andre Thieme is officially the most decorated HITS Million Winner as Sunday marked his fourth HITS Million title, this time taking home the blue ribbon aboard his own CHAKARIA. "I think everybody can tell by now that this class [HITS $1 Million Grand Prix] means something to me! It's my goal every year and while I’m not giving away other classes, I definitely don't put as much effort toward some of the other classes," said Thieme. "I try to really produce my horses for this class every single time. I try to be sure that everything on the day of this class goes perfect because this is the class that I really want to win each year."
Thieme has been riding CHAKARIA for the past year-and-a-half and said that it didn't take him long to realize how amazing the chestnut mare is. “I couldn’t believe my luck that for the first time in my life I was a little bit quicker than someone else buying the horse. She is fast, sound, a fighter, careful and scopey – I don’t know how to start and how to end, she’s just an amazing horse."
As Thieme continued talking about the day, he discussed the course, saying, “When I first walked it, I thought that it was probably going to be a little bit too small. I was expecting something bigger for the number of horses entered, to not have 15 clear rounds. Bernardo [Cabral] explained it to me and I realized that the course was a touch trickier than I thought." Going 41st in the order Thieme was the fifth to go clean in the first round, giving him an advantage of returning later in the in the jump-off, Several early riders had rails or other mistakes, so Thieme knew a clear round was most important, but a fast time would put the pressure on the final three. Thieme jumped clear in 34.393 to claim the lead. "It worked for my horse because she is really careful," said Thieme. "I have to thank Tom and HITS once more because without him we wouldn’t have a class like this and I and many of the other riders really appreciate it."
Second place was awarded to Eduardo Menezes for his ride aboard his own H5 CHAGANUS. Menezes was a second slower, posting a time of 35.696 in the jump-off. "I’m a little bit sad that Andre was a bit faster today but there’s no bad second," Menezes joked. "I thought the course was unbelievable. From the moment that I walked it, I told Bernardo [Cabral] that he did a fantastic job. It was very careful, but still had some scope questions. You couldn’t just have a horse that was flying today and go around – you had to ride proper. I thought that it was going to be easy, but I was definitely wrong – it ended up being perfect and I really thought as I was walking how much I wanted to jump the course. It was just fantastic."
Rounding out the top three on the podium was Darragh Kerins, who took the reins aboard LISSINO for Eve Jobs. Kerins was the only other rider to jump double clear as he crossed through the timers in 40.661. "This is right up there in my list of accomplishments. I have to say well done to Tom and his team for running a $1 Million class in these times," said Kerins. "It’s absolutely amazing. I was fourth in the Million one-time in Saugerties and third today. I think these classes are amazing."
Final Results for the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix
1 | Andre Thieme & CHAKARIA [34.393]
2 | Eduardo Menezes & H5 CHAGANUS [35.696]
3 | Darragh Kerins & LISSINO [40.661]
4 | McLain Ward & HH AZUR [4-Faults, 34.704]
5 | Jordan Coyle & ARISO [4-Faults, 35.322]
6 | Schuyler Riley & ROBIN DE PONTHUAL [8-Faults, 38.363]
7 | Coyle & ERISTOV [8-Faults, 45.436]
8 | Kristen VanderVeen & BULL RUN'S PRINCE OF PEACE
9 | Thieme & CELLISTO
10 | Vanessa Mannix & CATINKA 25
11 | Shane Sweetnam & KARLIN VAN'T VENNEHOF
12 | Nayel Nassar & LUCIFER V
13 | Margie Engle & DICAS
14 | Brian Moggre & MTM VIVRE LE REVE
15 | Abdel Said & ARPEGE DU RU
16 | Conor Swail & VITAL CHANCE DE LA ROQUE
17 | David Raposa & THE GENERAL
18 | Aaron Vale & ELUSIVE
19 | Harrie Smolders & MONACO
20 | Devin Ryan & EDDIE BLUE
Click here for the full listing of results from the HITS Ocala Championship.
As the 40th Anniversary of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit comes to close, HITS is making plans for 2022 in the ‘Horse Capital of the World®.’ Make your plans early as HITS enters a new decade of competition at HITS Post Time Farm where unprecedented competition, world-class facilities and premier show management make a recipe for success! Before returning to Ocala next year, there is a busy summer show schedule ahead!
We hope to see each and every one of you this summer whether it be in the at HITS Saugerties, HITS Chicago, HITS Culpeper or the Vermont Summer Festival. HITS offers competition for every level of rider at world-class facilities with the top management in the country. Each of HITS Summer Series is host to USEF-Rated competition, along with several USHJA Hunter and Jumper Championships to look forward to and eight weeks of FEI competition at HITS Saugerties.
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