Tracy Fenney rode MTM Farm’s S & L Willie to her third Grand Prix victory of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, taking the blue in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix on Thursday during final week at HITS Post Time Farm, in Ocala, Florida.
Fenney guided S & L Willie to the only double-clear round on a course built by Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico. Fenney got the best of 29 riders in the first round and the four who advanced to the jump-off course as she collected $7,500 in first-place prize money.
Fenney, who won more than $90,000 in Grand Prix prize money at HITS Ocala in 2008, has been on fire as of late. After being held winless over the first three weeks of the circuit, she now has won three out of five Grand Prix classes over the last three weeks.
The Texas native seems to be catching fire at the right time, with the crown-jewel of the Grand Prix is scheduled on the horizon when the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group takes place this Sunday.
“What a time to catch a hot streak,” said Fenney. “Last year, I was very successful early on in the circuit and couldn’t win the big class at the end. I am hoping to change my luck this year. I will be showing S & L Willie and MTM Centano and I know that they will be up for the challenge.”
In Thursday’s feature class, it was former Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill who got the jump-off started aboard Iron Horse Farm’s Cantero Z. The duo seemed to be on pace to come home with a clear round, but had a rail at the final jump of the eight-obstacle jump-off course and finished the afternoon in fourth place.
“I was very pleased with Cantero Z,” said Underhill. “It was a difficult course and he made it feel easy for me. He was so confident!”
Second to go in the jump-off was Sharn Wordley and Filip Amram’s Zorro. A rail down late in the jump-off course resulted in a third place finish at the end of the class.
Fenney and S & L Willie were next to show. With only one rider left to show in the jump-off, Fenney knew she could take her time and be a little bit more careful. She came home in 48.013 to set the Great American Time to Beat and that time would stand.
“I knew I had some room to play it safe,” said Fenney. “I wanted to make sure I went clear so all of the pressure would be on Lauren Hunkin who was behind me in the jump-off. My strategy worked out because she had a rail down early and I was able to pull out the win.”
It was Hunkin sitting in the enviable last-to-go spot in the jump-off, riding Synergy Farm’s Larry 0146. They had an early rail down and then had to step on the gas to ensure that they would be the fastest duo with four faults. They did just that, stopping the clock in 40.419 to finish in second place.
The $25,000 HITS Grand Prix was just a taste of what’s in store this weekend at HITS Ocala. Show jumping continues all weekend with the Ocala Winter Celebration to conclude the 2009 Ocala Winter Circuit. Feature classes include the $25,000 Team Barber Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High and $15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Low Classics on Saturday in the Grand Prix ring, as well as the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship on Friday night and the $5,000 Adult Hunter Classic on Saturday night.
The season closes out with the $25,000 Marshall & Sterling Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic and the Parade of Champions on Sunday- a prelude to the feature class of the circuit, the $100,000 Deluca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group.
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.