The 2009 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit came to a close on Sunday, March 15 after eight weeks of world-class equestrian competition at HITS Post Time Farm, in Ocala, Florida.
On the final Sunday, the Parade of Champions took center stage in the Grand Prix Ring and the Antarés Sellier France Circuit Awards were handed out in each division. Also during the Parade of Champions, Maryland’s Tracy Magness was given the Catena Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider Award. Magness and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko’s Tarco Van Ter Moude won four Grand Prix classes during the circuit en route to winning the award.
As the leading female Grand Prix rider on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, Magness received a beautiful timepiece from Catena, USA, with 29 hand-cut diamonds on the bezel and a white mother-of-pearl dial inset with 12 diamonds.
Magness was also named the Leading Overall Grand Prix rider on the circuit, despite just having one Grand Prix mount. “With such great female riders like Tracy Fenney and Callan Solem here it’s certainly an honor to have won both this new Leading Lady award and the overall Leading Grand Prix Rider Award,” said Magness. “I am very fortunate to have led the races here from wire to wire.”
Also excelling in the Grand Prix Ring were Texas’ Tracy Fenney and Illinois’ Laura Linback. Fenney won three Grand Prix classes and captured the Ocala Style of Riding Award. Fenney was presented the special award for demonstrating the best American style of riding and possessing a respectful, dignified, courteous and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman.
Linback joined the party when she piloted Woodrun’s As Di Villagana to the blue in the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group to collect $30,000 in first-place prize money to conclude the Grand Prix schedule for the circuit.
Hunters had their chance to shine during the Ocala Winter Finals when the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Dietrich Insurance Featuring Walsh Harness & Saddlery and the $5,000 Pony Commotion took the stage.
In the hunter derby, a standing-room-only crowd surrounded the Grand Hunter Ring to watch Jen Alfano ride Jersey Boy past 61 entries to win the blue. Alfano, from Buffalo, New York, had the ride for owner Susie Schoellkopf of SBS Farm, and collected $3,000 in first-place prize money. Alfano has several wins in other $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derbies, including last year’s class at Ocala when she rode Bright Star LLC’s Rock Star to the blue.
“I have some horses that are great at doing the Derbies,” said Alfano. “Jersey boy was fabulous! He is seven years old and does the Regular Working Hunters. He is really starting to come into his own.”
Taylor Ann Adams, from Leads, Tennessee, guided Don Stewart’s pony Mokoo Jumbee past 17 starters to capture the title in the $5,000 Pony Commotion in the majestic Grand Prix Ring.
“It’s one of my favorite classes,” said Adams. “I did the class in Saugerties (last summer) and it’s so cool that the ponies get to gallop around in the big ring!”
Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship
The Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship took place for the first time at HITS Ocala and was won by Amber Henter, of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Henter, who trains under the watchful eye of Christina Schlusemeyer, captured the highest two-round score of the 14 exhibitors who battled it out for the crown. Henter was in the irons aboard Redfield Farm’s Triumph during this unique class.
The two-round classic was held as part of the new Ocala Celebration at HITS Ocala. In the first round, riders competed over a course of fences which included gymnastics, trot fences, oxers, verticals and combinations. The top-12 riders were called back in reverse order of their score to complete the second round.
Other noteable winners at HITS Ocala include:
$25,000 Team Barber Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic: Skyland’s Con Chino Z, ridden and owned by Joshton Dolan.
$15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Low Classic:Tusker, ridden by Taylor Land and owned by Pinetree Ponies.
$5,000 Adult Hunter Classic:Saracen, ridden by Tiffany Hammack and owned by Lisa Williamson.
$25,000 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic: Morena, ridden and owned by Maureen Allen.
Music Man Pony Jumper Style of Riding Award sponsored by the Dolan Family: Ashley Foster