Pandur and Aaron Vale Grab $25,000 Jacksonville Finale Grand Prix

Green Cove Springs, FL- February 4, 2006

As the temperatures plummeted, Pandur, owned by Town Creek Investments, and Aaron Vale heated things up as they raced around the jump-off course and captured first place. Along with the blue ribbon, they received the $25,000 prize and provided a thrilling close to the Jacksonville Grand Prix series.

The $25,000 Finale course, designed by Pierre Jolicoeur, “was a tricky first round course,” said winner Aaron Vale.  He also commented, “There were several places where you were coming off diagonals and would normally make a right turn, but Pierre had us making a left turn.”  In fact, one of the riders did so and had the crowd yelling at him, “The other way. The other way!”  It was a fun evening for the audience who was quite vocal. 

Aaron Vale and "Pandur", winners of 2006 Jacksonville Finale $35,000 Grand Prix. 
Photo: Flashpoint Photography

The course had thirteen obstacles with two sets of multiple jumps, the fourth and the seventh.  The seventh was a vertical in and out to an oxer, in and out to another vertical.  This combination caused the most trouble on this night for five of the horses who finished with only four faults.  The time allowed was a generous ninety-three seconds.  Out of the twenty-eight horses that attempted the first course, twelve went clear, seven had four faults and nine had more than four faults.

The jump-off was a shortened course of seven obstacles with one combination, the sixth in the order (the seventh combination from the first round) with a vertical in and out to the oxer.  There was a possibility of two tight turns if the riders chose to use them.  The jump-off started with Cassius, a thirteen year old Oldenburg gelding ridden by David G. Wright for Joy Elizabeth Pittman and Beau Cheval Ltd.  Unfortunately, Wright and the chestnut caught the top rail on fence three and fence five for a total of eight faults and a time of 39.558.

Next in was Polyfax and Roberto Teran, winners of last week’s $35,000 Jacksonville A to Z Grand Prix.  Riding for KingRidge Stables, Teran and Polyfax were not as successful this week.  They started out by catching the first fence with a back leg and then misjudged fence six.  They finished with eight faults and a time 39.417.

Lavaro and Emily Wygod, riding for River Edge Farm, were next in.  Wygod was riding in her first Grand Prix and had won the Open Welcome class the day before.  She and the thirteen year old Dutch Warmblood gelding chose to make the outside turns on the first two fences, going for a smooth, clear round.  But on fence number six, Lavaro caught the top rail with his back leg.  The pair finished with four faults but a slow time of 44.765.

Next came Angelstone Farms’ Arriscraft Soleil and Aaron Vale on his first jump-off ride.  Vale and the chestnut moved quickly, making tight turns around the first three jumps and angling sharply to fence five.  They knocked the first fence in the combination quite hard, but the rail stayed up.  They flew over the rest of the combination and around the corner toward the final fence, a liverpool.  The time was looking really fast, but, alas, they caught the rail and it came crashing down for four faults and what would have been the winning time of 37.105.  A large groan was heard from the sympathetic crowd.

On The Sly and Kristi Smith, riding for Knight Sfork, Inc., came off the first fence with a wide turn with the hope of a better angle on the second fence.  But their luck failed, and On The Sly caught the top rail with his front foot and it toppled to the ground.  The rest of the jump-off went well and they finished with just four faults and a time of 45.321.

The jump-off was proving to be a real test.  Ariado and Wilhelm Genn came in and attacked it with the intent to go clear, not super fast.  Genn and Ariado made wide turns on the first fences and smooth turns everywhere else and finished with the first double clear and a time of 42.952.   Ariado is a nine year old gelding that is owned by Wilhelm and Patty Genn.  Wilhelm Genn is originally from Germany, but now calls Dayton, Ohio home. 

Next in was Pandur, a little dark bay horse, ridden by Aaron Vale for Town Creek Investments.  Vale spends summers in Aiken, South Carolina and winters at his Millstream Farm in Ocala, Florida.  Vale and Pandur rode a tight turn back from the first fence to the second fence and also made a very tight inside turn to the third fence.  The little horse moved quickly around the rest of the jump-off course with little wasted motion and flashed to the finish and over the liverpool, giving Vale the fastest clean ride of the evening with a time of 37.134.  This moved the pair into first place with five more riders still to go.

Kennedy and Melissa Sarle galloped in to challenge the jump-off next.  Sarle and the fourteen year old Dutch Warmblood had the course well in hand until the combination, when Kennedy slid to a stop.  They circled, completed the course, and finished with four faults and a time of 49.800.  Kennedy is owned by River Edge Farm.

Black Forest Commodoro and Gautama Tschannerl trotted into the arena to the cheers of the crowd.  Tschannerl has been showing in grand prix events in Ireland and has recently moved to St. Augustine, Florida, so he had many friends there to cheer him on.  Commodoro and Tschannerl made all the tight turns and quickly piloted their way around the course, racing to the last fence to cheers of, “Hurry!!”  They finished clear to move into a current second place.

Mark Jungherr rode Olinoeska, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Waters, in for the jump-off.  This was another pair who seemed to be looking for a clean round. Their turns were wide and the ride was smooth.   Jungherr and the nine year old Belgian gelding accomplished the clean ride but their time was on the slow side at 48.033.

The next-to-last horse to attempt the jump-off was Jewel Thief, a grey fourteen year old Dutch Warmblood owned and ridden by Daniel Damen.  Damen and Jewel Thief made all the tight turns and zipped around the course.  With the crowd yelling, “Go, go!”, they finished clear and with a time of 37.991, moving into second place.

With the final chance to take over first place, Rio Corde and rider Bill Lowry entered with their own cheering gallery at the west end of the arena.  Rio Corde is owned by Winsor Sales, Inc.  Lowry and Rio Corde also made all the tight turns, took as much time off the clock as they could, had the crowd cheering loudly, and finished clear with a time of 40.947, but this was not fast enough to move them into first.  They finished in third place.

Speaking with Aaron Vale after he led the finishers in the victory gallop, he said of the first round course, “Remembering it was probably the hardest thing.  The turns were so unusual.    I was surprised that many went clean.  But the horses jumped well tonight.”  Vale said that Pandur was a new ride for him and he commented, “I don’t really know him too well yet.  I jumped him in Ocala the last two weeks.  We just missed in a couple of Grand Prix.” 

When asked if the jump-off gave him any concern, he grinned and said, ”It was a fun course.  He’s a quick, little horse.  I made a tight turn back to the second fence.  I knew if I could leave the first couple of jumps up, the rest were easier.  But it was pretty nerve wracking watching Daniel (Damen) and Bill (Lowry) go.  I knew they would be fast.”  In closing, Vale offered, “It’s great to end in Jacksonville on a winning note.  I can’t wait to come back next year!”

Official Results: $25,000 Jacksonville Finale Grand Prix
1. Pandur, Aaron Vale, 0/0/37.134
2. Jewel Thief, Daniel Damen, 0/0/37.991
3. Rio Corde, Bill Lowry, 0/0/40.947
4. Black Forest Commodoro, Gautama Tschannerl, 0/0/41.733
5. Ariado, Wilhelm Genn, 0/0/42.952
6. Olinoeska,Mark Jungherr, 0/0/48.033
7. Arriscraft Soleil, Aaron Vale, 0/4/37.105
8. Lavaro, Emily Wygod, 0/4/44.765
9. On The Sly, Kristi Smith, 0/4/45.321
10. Kennedy, Melissa Sarle, 0/4/49.800
11. Polyfax, Roberto Teran, 0/8/39.417
12. Cassius, David Wright, 0/8/39.558

Photo Credit: Pandur and Aaron Vale, winners of Jacksonville $25,000 Grand Prix.  Photo by Flashpoint Photography.


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