Ocala, FL – The $100,000 Wheels Up Grand Prix capped off the penultimate week of the 2023 Winter Spectacular Show Series where an elite field of 38 athletes representing 13 different nations contested a challenging track set by FEI Level IV course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR). Aaron Vale (USA) secured his second consecutive victory aboard Thinkslikeahorse’s Prescott (Lordanos x Bb Carvallo) after a competitive nine horse jump-off.
Vale shared his thoughts about Cabral’s first round track, “It was a nice course. Bernardo has been quite difficult. He’s designing for the World Cup™ Finals coming up in about a month, so not only are the people that are going to Omaha practicing for it, he is too. The bending lines were a bit tricky. You had to create the shape and the right direction to catch the fences just right. Overall, it was a great course and had a perfect number for the jump-off.”
Dorothy Douglas (USA) led the way in the jump-off aboard MTM Pablo owned by Davenport Farms in 39.303 seconds.
She was quickly surpassed by Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Ariel Grange’s Ivory TCS (Falaise De Muze x Covella). Coyle and the ten-year-old KPWN mare flew around the track stopping the clock two seconds faster for a time of 36.949 seconds.
Aaron Vale and Prescott were quick to up the ante, “Daniel is a very fast rider and even though he decided to do eight up that last line, it was going to be tough to beat because he was really quick after,” said Vale.
“From one to two, I wanted to put enough shape in the seven, that I was diving right, coming right. I took one less to the combination, which was a bit of a risk for Prescott, but I got there good enough where I felt like he could do it. Everyone did eight back to the Lugano and I almost got there too easy which made for a slow jump. I almost thought about doing the eight after that, but Prescott follows you away from the jump and I had already done the seven by accident in the first round, so I knew he could do it. That ended up feeling so fast, I was a little conservative to the vertical. To the last I drifted out so I could come back in. He was going fast and it was long, but he kept it up and I was able to land and keep the momentum going through the timers. There may have been one less, but I would have had the rail down. It’s like that old fashion theory, you can only lose the class at the last jump,” told Vale.
The pair flew through the finish stopping the clock at 36.343 second to steal the lead.
Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) and Barbara Disko’s Sovereign (Frontal x Galledent) delivered the only other double clear round of the evening. Goldman-Smolen and 17-year-old Selle Francais stallion were quick and clean in 38.528 seconds to ultimately secure third place.
Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Ilan Ferder’s Calypso De Blondel earned the $5,000 fastest-four faulter award with a quick first round time of 72.941 seconds with one rail down.
Anthony Sauriol received the ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.
$100,000 Wheels Up Grand Prix Results:
1 Prescott, Aaron Vale (USA), Thinkslikeahorse: 0 | 0 | 36.343
2 Ivory TCS, Daniel Coyle (IRL), Ariel Grange: 0 | 0 | 36.949
3 Sovereign, Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA), Barbara Disko: 0 | 0 | 38.528
4 MTM Pablo, Dorothy Douglas (USA), Davenport Farms: 0 | 0 | 39.303
5 MTM Apple, Tracy Fenney (USA), MTM Farm: 0 | 4 | 36.853
6 Wellington Grey Goose, Rowan Willis (AUS), Rowan Willis: 0 | 4 | 38.280
7 Goliath, Addison Reed (USA), Reed Training & Sales LLC: 0 | 12 | 41.086
8 Phaeton VD Of Colors, Daniel Coyle (IRL), Daniel Coyle: 0 | 16 | 46.428
9 Chattanooga, Santiago Lambre (BRA), Santiago Lambre: 0 | 76.530
10 Calypso De Blondel, Erynn Ballard (CAN), Ilan Ferder: 4 | 72.941