OCALA, FL (February 16, 2009)—The Ocala Winter Festival proved to be one heck of a week for Aaron Vale. The Grand Prix superstar not only won Sunday’s $50,000 Duggan Brothers Equipment Grand Prix aboard Joan Kalman’s Tarco, he also got engaged on Valentine’s Day to cap off the week at HITS Post Time Farm, in Ocala, Florida.
“I am definitely more excited about the engagement,” joked Vale. “I have won plenty of Grand Prix classes before!”
Vale and his fiancé Mallory Norton have not set a date to be married as of yet. In the meantime, he will be looking to secure plenty of ribbons in the Grand Prix Ring.
On Sunday, he scored his first victory after officially being “off of the market” when he took out a field of 26 that challenged the course built by Jack Robson of Coronado, California. Nine advanced to the jump-off, and Vale outlasted them all to secure the first-place check of $15,000.
Megan Edrick was first to go in the jump-off, riding Procedures Inc.’s Kandel. Two rails down on the course placed the pair in eighth place. Second in the jump-off order was Patty Stovel and Shandor 41. The duo had an unlucky rail down midway through the course to finish in sixth place.
Next on course in the jump-off was Vale and Thinkslikeahorse’s Sinatra IV. A rail down early and another late in the jump-off landed the pair in seventh place. “Sinatra jumped so well in the first round,” said Vale. “In the jump-off we just didn’t get the same feel.”
Fourth to show in the jump-off was Tracy Magness and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko’s Tarco Van Ter Moude. The pair entered the ring fresh off of their win in Thursday’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix and jumped clear in Sunday’s jump-off, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 41.788. When the class was complete, they would finish in second place and collect $11,000 in prize money.
“Tracy laid down a really fast round,” said Vale. “One thing I picked up from watching her was that Sinatra was a second off of her time. Tarco has a much larger stride than Sinatra so I knew what I had to do riding-wise when it was time to go in the jump-off.”
Fifth in the jump-off order was Callan Solem and The Torlando Group’s VDL Torlando. They would also go clear, and stop the clock in 41.978 to secure the yellow ribbon.
Next to go in the jump-off was Laura Linback and Woodrun’s As Di Villagana. They would navigate the course without any faults and stop the clock in 43.652 to finish in fourth place.
Seventh in the jump-off was Vale and Joan Kalman’s Tarco. Vale and Tarco made the dash for the cash, stopping the clocks in 41.634 to take the lead and eventually win the blue.
“It was a pretty smooth ride,” said Vale. “But I knew I wasn’t as fast as I thought I could be. I slowed down at the last jump to make sure I jumped clear. There were some good riders behind me, so I wasn’t sure if my time would be good enough.”
Eighth to show in the jump-off was Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM Centano. Three rails down would result in a ninth place finish for the pair.
Sitting in the envious last-to-go spot was Callan Solem and Quiet Winter/Redfield Farm’s Mianta. A rail down at the final jump resulted in a fifth place finish for Solem and Mianta.
“Callan was really fast,” said Vale. “She had a rail down at the last jump. It was a really hard vertical and I had it down on my first horse in the jump-off. There was a jump next to it and it was hard to get the horses focused on the jump.”
Show jumping action at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit continues next week with the Ocala Masters, and features a full week of classes, including Sunday’s $75,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix.
Highlighting the week is the popular World of the Horse, presented by Ocalahorse.com. Numerous breeds of horses will be represented in a colorful parade sure to delight all horse lovers. The action takes place around noon in the Grand Prix ring prior to Sunday’s feature class.
HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS produced its first horse show circuit in Gainesville, Florida in 1982. Since that time, HITS has grown into a nationwide company with world-class hunter/jumper circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
Media should contact Chris Mayone at 845.246.8833 or e-mail Media_Info@HitsShows.com.