CANADIAN ERYNN BALLARD EDGES VALE TO WIN $50,000 HITS GRAND PRIX AT HITS OCALA TOURNAMENT
OCALA, FL (March 9, 2005) --
Erynn Ballard of Hornby, Ontario snatched the win in Sunday's $50,000 HITS Grand Prix when she edged out Aaron Vale by just five hundreds of a second. Ballard rode Rio's Rhapsody, an eight-year-old grey Canadian-bred mare owned by Sterling Honda.
A total of thirty-two horses took to the Grand Prix field during week IV of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio built a challenging 13-obstacle first round course that reduced the field to just four horses in the jump-off.
"The course was definitely very technical, and you had to be careful," commented Erynn Ballard. "There was no big test, rails came down all over the course. On my first horse [Robin Van Roosendael] I had a rail in the middle of the course and that was a good mistake to make. I fixed it with Rio's Rhapsody and made it through."
Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill was the first to return for the jump-off. Underhill had a knockdown with Magdaline for four faults in a time of 42.72 seconds. Aaron Vale and Arriscraft Soliel were up next. Vale was sitting on a fast horse--Arriscraft Soliel was the winner of the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix in week I. The pair saw their way clear in a time of 42.11 seconds. As Erynn Ballard watched Vale's round she considered her options. "All winter I have been the slowest double-clear, and with only four in the jump-off the worst case scenario was being fourth. At some point you have to make a decision, and I decided to go for it." Ballard rode a flawless round, galloping to the finish in 42.06 seconds to best Vale by just five hundreds of a second.
Roberto Teran of Colombia was the last to challenge. As Teran approached the first fence it was clear that he was going to pull out all the stops. He set a blistering pace with Polyfax to finish in the fastest time of the competition with 41.08 seconds, but a rail down at the final obstacle gave the win to Erynn Ballard.
When asked how she felt watching Teran's round, Erynn Ballard, who sounded surprised at herself, admitted she got quite emotional and had a case of the butterflies. "It was nerve-wracking watching Roberto as it wasn't decided until the last fence."
Erynn Ballard also took eighth place in the competition with her family's Robin Van Roosendael.
Other major award winners at HITS Ocala Tournament included:
Medal Patti Ann Thornton, Ringoes, NJ
The next Grand Prix event of the circuit will take place on Thursday, March 10th at 1pm. Spectators will enjoy world-class show jumping competition as riders compete for top honors in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. The Grand Finale of the circuit -- the $100,000 Grand Prix of Ocala presented by Great American Insurance will finish out the week on Sunday, March 13th at 2pm.
HITS Grand Prix - Sunday, March 6, 2005
THROUGH SUNDAY REMAINING 2005 SHOW DATES ARE:
POST TIME TRAINING FARM - 13710 U.S. Hwy 27; Ocala, Florida 34482; Tel: 352-620-2275. Website: www.HitsShows.com
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