MARY LISA LEFFLER AND KARTOUSCh WIN $50,000 HITS GRAND PRIX AT OCALA MASTERS
OCALA, FL (March 1, 2004)
Children and their parents filled the bleechers at HITS Ocala III for an action-packed Grand Prix that coincided with Family Day, presented by Cox Communications. Mary Lisa Leffler and Kartousch produced the only double-clear of a field of thirty-two horses to win Sunday's $50,000 HITS Grand Prix. Leffler took home the blue ribbon, an engraved silver tray, an embroidered cooler and $15,000 for owner Rolling Acres Farm, Inc. Aaron Vale and Arriscraft Soliel had almost a second on Leffler's time, but an unlucky rail at the double meant he had to settle for second place. Ian Silitch and Cable were the last to go in the three-horse jump-off, and a voluntary withdrawal after two knockdowns left them in third place.
Course designer Michel Vaillancourt of Schomberg, Ontario, built a technical 13-obstacle first round course that included a triple-bar oxer at Fence No. 4, and a double at Fence No. 6. His last line included a triple at Fence No. 11, and an oxer at No. 13. Time Allowed was set at 86 seconds. The triple and the time allowed seemed to be the biggest challenges for first round riders. A total of nine horses had time faults and fourteen had a rail down at the triple.
When asked what he thought of the outcome, course designer Michel Vaillancourt stated, "Time allowed is always a weapon that course designers like to use, but I don't think that the time was too short." "Sometimes when a rider has a rail down they tend to finish out the course at a slower pace, and that was the reason for a lot of the time faults. Mary Lisa Leffler and her horse Kartousch jumped the course beautifully, and jumped the best. Sometimes you have a lucky winner, but that was not the case in this competition...Leffler out-jumped the field and definitely deserved to win."
Of the thirty-two starters three horses went clean over Vaillancourt's first round course. There were a few heartbreaks along the way; Aaron Vale left all the rails up with Quendo and Picasso, however time-faults of fractions of a second kept both horses from advancing to the jump-off.
Vale placed fourth and fifth in the competition on Quendo and Picasso respectively. When Vale entered the ring with Arriscraft Soliel, he was not making the same mistake again—his time of 81.44 seconds was well within the time allowed and advanced the pair to the jump-off.
For the jump-off, Vaillancourt shortened the course to seven elements, with time allowed set at 50 seconds. Mary Lisa Leffler and Kartousch were the first in the order. Leffler rode a perfect round, going clear in the winning time of 47.07 seconds. Vale and Arriscraft Soliel, owned by Angelstone Farm, picked up the pace to shave almost a second off Leffler's time, but a knockdown at the first element jumping into the combination left them in second place. Ian Silitch was last to enter the ring aboard Cable.
Silitch had posted the fastest first round time, so there were high hopes for the pair. A knockdown at Fence No. 2 meant that Leffler could relax.Then another knockdown at Fence No. 15, the King Shavings vertical, and Silitch declared that it was all over, voluntarily withdrawing Cable from the competition. The pair finished in third place.
Other major award winners at
HITS Ocala III included:
Mary Lisa Leffler's Grand Prix win has helped to move her up in the Equus Entries Leading Grand Prix Rider standings. She is currently in 5th place. The Leading Grand Prix Rider at the close of the circuit will take home a beautiful "Super Bowl" ring inlaid with precious stones courtesy of Equus Entries. Leffler is not only winning in the Grand Prix ring at Ocala, she also finished out the week as the Bayer Legend Leading Hunter Rider.
Aaron Vale was awarded the Bayer Legend Leading Jumper Rider award for the third week in a row. He has had top-four finishes in all of the Grand Prix competitions at the Ocala Winter Circuit to date, and his performance has given him top ranking in the Equus Entries Leading Grand Prix Rider standings.
For Katherine Kepes it was two weeks in a row as the winner of the HBO Junior Medal. All eyes will be on Katherine as she competes next week.
The $50,000 HITS Grand Prix coincided with Family Day presented by Cox Communications. The usual spectator crowd saw an increase of local parents and their children, all out to enjoy the wide variety of activities laid on for them at the HITS Post Time Farm show grounds. The face-painters were kept busy throughout the day, and several brightly colored faces dotted the bleechers surrounding the Grand Prix ring. The competition heated up when a number of aspiring Grand Prix riders took to the field in the stick-horse race. A lot of fun was had by all, and HITS would like to pay special thanks to Cox Communications the presenting sponsor, and the City of Ocala Parks & Recreation Department for organizing the children's activities.
For more information on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, please visit www.hitsshows.com
HITS Grand Prix - Sunday, February 29, 2004 HITS Ocala III - Ocala, FL
Michel Vaillancourt, Schomberg, Ontario
WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY,
2004 REMAINING SHOW DATES ARE:
POST TIME FARM: 13710
U.S. Hwy 27; Ocala, Florida 34482; Tel: 352-620-2275. Website: www.HitsShows.com
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