Ocala, FL – World Equestrian Center – Ocala welcomed a slew of the world’s best show jumping athletes to attempt the $100,000 Wheels Up Grand Prix during the penultimate Saturday night event of the 2023 Ocala Summer Series. At the close of a thrilling 12 horse jump-off, Dorothy Douglas (USA) sealed her first ever World Equestrian Center grand prix victory aboard MTM Pablo (Perigueux x Celina) owned by Davenport Farms.
Thirty-six athletes representing 14 countries gave their all over Doug Russell’s (USA) first-round tracks and an even 12 galloped through the timers under the time with all rails still in their cups.
Coming off of a very successful trip from the Netherlands where they helped Australia earn a team spot in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Lauren Balcomb (AUS) and Verdini D’Houtveld Z (Verdi x Laska III) maintained their momentum. Balcomb and the 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding set the pace at 40.277 seconds, which ultimately earned the pair a spot on the podium.
Dorothy Douglas entered the arena determined to take home her first grand prix victory, “Since this is my last week showing before I head to Kentucky for Incentive and Derby Finals, I said to myself, run.”
At the sound of the tone, Douglas and the ten-year-old Hanoverian gelding were off, “I heard Tracy [Fenney] from the second to third jump yelling at me to go. My plan was simple, land off the jumps and run as fast as I could. I knew Lauren was fast and I had Luis [Sabino Goncavles] behind me, so I had no other choice than to go as fast as I could.”
The pair raced around the short course not punching the brakes once to stop the clock at a blistering 39.063 seconds, a full second faster than second place. Douglas also earned fourth place with her second mount Caepten 2.
“It feels surreal. MTM Pablo has been knocking on the door the entire year for one of these big wins. I’ve been second a few times and we like to call it being a bridesmaid, but today I’m the bride,” laughed Douglas. “For him to win this class is unbelievable. He deserves this win.”
MTM Pablo has amassed quite a fan club, “There were like 94 kids running to the barn to go meet him. I guess they are fans of Pablo. Saturday night grands prix here get people excited for show jumping and wanting to learn more about the sport. People now want grand prix horses and to be up-and-coming riders. This place gives little kids something to strive for and dream about. It’s incomparable.”
Last to go, Tom Foley (IRL) gave the short track everything that he had with Sher Al Farm’s Ibalius SMH (Everglade VDL x Ribald H.B) posting a time just two tenths faster than Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z in 40.048 seconds to secure the second-place spot on the leaderboard.
Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Valentine Car secured the fastest four-faulter award with a first-round time of 77.711 seconds with one rail down.
Paige Jones received the ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.
$100,000 Wheels Up Grand Prix Results:
1 MTM Pablo, Dorothy Douglas (USA), Davenport Farms: 0 | 0 | 39.063
2 Ibalius SMH, Tom Foley (IRL), Sher Al Farm: 0 | 0 | 40.048
3 Verdini D’Houtveld Z, Lauren Balcomb (AUS), Lauren Balcomb: 0 | 0 | 40.277
4 Caepten 2, Dorothy Douglas (USA), MTM Farm: 0 | 0 | 40.592
5 Classified, Gonzalo Busca (ESP), Liliane Stransky: 0 | 0 | 40.996
6 Ennebel Van het Posthuijs, Peter Petschenig (AUT), Petschenig Showjumping, LLC: 0 | 0 | 41.124
7 Mick Jagger, Sharn Wordley (NZL), Della Wordley: 0 | 0 | 41.691
8 Haba-W, Juan Pablo Gnecco (COL), Caroline Amplatz: 0 | 0 | 46.354
9 Nashville, Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA), Santa Cecelia Stables LLC: 0 | 4 | 40.184
10 Vick Du Croisy, Luis Sabino Goncalves (POR), Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 4 | 41.654