Ocala, FL – Week V of the 2023 Ocala Summer Series at World Equestrian Center – Ocala showcased the final week of FEI CSI3* competition. The ladies stole the show the entire week and on Saturday night during the $150,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI3* where Ashlee Bond (ISR), Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Erynn Ballard (CAN) all took their rightful spots atop the podium. Read on for additional highlights.
Erynn Ballard proved invincible in the $50,000 Lugano Diamonds National Grand Prix when she navigated the only double-clear round aboard Ilan Ferder’s Kristal Brillante.
“It’s been a pretty spectacular two weeks. Days like this are hard because I am on such an adrenaline high from last night and from the entire experience the past two weeks. My legs felt a little like jelly this morning,” laughed Ballard. “I picked myself up, and mentally prepared for another day because I think I am a little tired, but I got in the zone and went out there and tried to perform my best.”
A thrilling eight horse jump-off in the $150,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI3* had everyone on the edge of their seats, but it was Ashlee Bond that dazzled the crowd with her tired-and-true partner Donatello 141.
“Tonight, I could feel as soon as he walked in the ring that he was ready to shine. He loves night classes, he thrives in them. It was a great feeling to know he was feeling himself, and he proved it with his performance.”
Erynn Ballard kicked-off her Saturday with a double victory in the $10,000 Buckeye Nutrition Futures Prix.
“These past two weeks have made me so fast. I am trying to better myself and there’s something very cool about this – I am leaving this horse show riding at the top of my game, super-fast and ready to take on whatever happens next. This facility not only helps horses grow and improve, but riders too.”
Maria Rasmussen and Worthy bested the field in the $12,500 Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby.
“It was a really nice course. It suited the indoor well, it was flowing and you could keep a nice open canter to the jumps. I think all of the horses performed well and it was a lot of fun to ride.”
Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen scored back-to-back wins with APG Livory in the $10,000 UF Veterinary Hospital USHJA National 3’ Open Hunter Derby.
“She’s such a spectacular horse. She has so much natural ability and this course really played to her strengths. I loved the natural hedge, it was fun for the young horses to see. It’s something that they usually won’t see until Derby Finals. She was incredible and I couldn’t be happier with her.”
Afton Chmela and NU Castle claimed the $10,000 USHJA National 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby win.
“He’s the love of my life. He reminded me why I love this sport. He’s perfect and gives me his all every time we step in the ring. We have a great bond and he’s taught me so much.”
Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen opened her Friday with a win in the $40,000 1.45m Two Phase Special CSI3* aboard Forever SFN.
“He’s a speed specialist. I have had him for a year and a half, and I am so fortunate to have him in the barn. Just this year he’s done eight or nine classes like this and he’s been top five in almost every one of them. He’s a machine. I just try to stay out of his way and let him do his thing.”
Angela Covert and Hollywood De Rase Z were stars in the $50,000 UF Veterinary Hospital Grand Prix Qualifier CSI3*.
“The first night class I did with him was back in 2021, and he has always been fantastic in that ring. I think horses go into that arena with the electric atmosphere and grow, at least in my experience. I think Woody thinks that everyone is here to watch him and cheer him on.”
Kristen Vanderveen piloted Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili to the $40,000 1.45m Speed CSI3* victory.
“I really liked the course today, because it was set to where I could use his stride to my advantage and his ability to turn. No one else had attempted the inside turn to the combination and it worked out well for us, because with us going that quick on an open stride, doing the inside turn backed him up a little bit to set him up well for the double,” said Vanderveen. “I was going in thinking, I want to win this class and see how the cards fell – it turns out today was our day.”
Chloe Reid and Chelsea 179 snagged the $6,000 1.40m Speed CSI3* win.
“She’s my newest mare. I got her in October, so I am still figuring out her gears, but it’s been getting better and better. She did the first two national grands prix this summer and we placed in both, so I thought I would compete in FEI this week, and I can’t be happier with how it started.”
Anselmo Alvarado and Charatinus won the $7,500 THIS 1.40m Jumper Classic on Sunday afternoon.
Lark Heckman and Kb Kokomo captured the $3,500 WEC Ocala 2’6” Non Pro Hunter Derby win.
Isabelle Castellanos and Old School delivered two textbook rounds in the $2,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby to gallop away with the victory.
The 2023 Ocala Summer Series at World Equestrian Center – Ocala continues through August 13 with top-level national hunter/jumper competition.