Thomas Wachman and Donegal Win $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix at HITS Ocala
Ocala, Fla. – March 24, 2023 – Thomas Wachman is making his first week at HITS Ocala a winning one, capturing the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix with Donegal, marking the duo’s first victory together. The duo bested a six-horse jump-off, with the Irishman finishing just one second ahead of Australia's Matt Williams and ABC Quantum Cruise. The third place prize went to Doug Payne and Chaccolate, as all the riders now look ahead to Sunday’s Great American $300,000 Grand Prix.
“It's the first class we've won together, so I am happy with Donegal – he jumped very well,” said Wachman after his win. “He's very careful, he's scopey, really good against the clock. We are getting to know each other a bit and today we seem to have found what works hopefully!”
Thomas Wachman and Donegal
Marina Azevedo set the track for the day’s main event in the Grand Prix Ring, which included a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination early in the course as well as an oxer-vertical double combination. Coupled with a snug time allowed, the first round yielded just six clear efforts. The jump-off began with a bending line before riders eventually made their way to the double combination and eventually would back around to the final wide oxer going towards the gate.
Doug Payne and Chaccolate
After winning Wednesday’s $5,000 Vita Flex Open Welcome, Payne and Chaccolate posted the first double clear on Friday, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 44.408 seconds. However, their lead did not hold for long, with Wachman and Donegal tacking the track next. Wachman used Donegal’s natural speed to make up time through each of the turns while still leaving the rails intact, breaking the beam in 42.401 seconds to go to the top of the leaderboard. Williams tried to catch Wachman with ABC Quantum Cruise, leaving all the fences up and stopping the clock at 43.373 seconds to slide into second place, just ahead of Payne, while Wachman led the day’s lap of honor.
Matt Williams and ABC Quantum Cruise
“I was fourth it to go so I could see a few and it wasn't overly quick when I went in, but I knew there were some quick riders coming after me,” explained Wachman. “I just thought to be quick round but be a bit safe.”
With a win under his belt already, Wachman is excited about the rest of the week at HITS Ocala. “I'm delighted to be here,” he concluded. “I came here two years ago when my brother was riding and it was still the old arena. This new arena is very nice, the ground is good, there is loads of space for the horses, and the horses are relaxed here.”
The HITS Ocala Championship will feature several exciting events including Saturday’s $25,000 Peterson & Smith High Child/Adult Jumper Classic and Sunday’s Great American $300,000 Grand Prix. The main event will get underway at 1 pm on Sunday, March 26, with free admission for all to watch some of the best horse and rider combinations vie for the biggest purse of the season at HITS Post Time Farm. For more information visit www.hitsshows.com.