Ocala, FL – The 12-week 2023 Winter Spectacular Show Series at World Equestrian Center – Ocala hosted yet another exhilarating week of US Equestrian sanctioned hunter/jumper sport. The week opened up with Olympic Gold Medalist Will Simpson securing the $24,000 C. Jarvis Insurance Welcome Prix victory aboard the speedy Whoop De Doo. Amanda Steege and Lafitte De Muze returned to WEC – Ocala in top form, taking home the victory in the $20,000 Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby. Aaron Vale saved the best for last in the $100,000 Coca-Cola Beverages Florida Grand Prix where he returned last aboard I Adermie R 4 and captured the win. Read on for additional highlights from the week.
Watch Aaron Vale and Jacqueline Ruyle race against the clock in the $100,000 Coca-Cola Beverages Florida Grand Prix during week II of the 2023 Winter Spectacular Show Series.
On Sunday afternoon, Santiago Lambre (BRA) and his own Chacco Blue II stole the champion title in the $15,000 Taylor Harris Insurance Services 1.45m Jumper Classic.
“I really wasn’t going to go that fast and use the track for more training purposes, but Chacco Blue II has such a big step and he was pretty eager, so I just let him open up. I practiced a few tidy turns and ended up doing eight in the last line, but I think I could have gotten the seven because I had to make him wait for the eight.”
Aaron Vale & I Adermie R 4 captured the $100,000 Coca-Cola Beverages Florida Grand Prix win.
“After Jaci beat me by more than a second, I knew I had to really take my chances,” said Vale. “I Adermie R 4 is a bit smaller of a horse with a smaller step, so I had to gallop from one to two to get the nine done. She was balanced enough to fence two where I could grab the right rein and begin turning before we landed to get to the double combination. I think I did one less to the double than everyone else, then we were really fast back to the Lugano oxer. I did take a bit of a liberty to the navy fence, but she knew it was game on and cleared it. That gave me a little bit more room to the next jump, so I could move up to the final vertical.”
Alexanne Thibault (CAN) and her own Cidanos Z rose to the top of the leaderboard and galloped away with the victory in the $15,000 Buckeye Nutrition Futures Prix.
“I know this class is very competitive here and always has a lot of entries, so I knew I had to give it my all. I preferred taking the risk and going fast rather than being too conservative. Cidanos is very quick and careful off the ground, so I knew he would leave the fences up.”
On Friday afternoon, Penny Brennan scored her second feature class victory aboard Vertigo Delorme in the $15,000 1.40m Jumper Classic.
Amanda Steege & Lafitte De Muze notched the $20,000 Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby victory.
“I could trust Lafitte’s jumping style to be recognized by the judges, but I knew I had to be as handy as I could and show off a little pace to win it,” remarked Steege. “I was the only one that did the inside turn back to the trot fence. Lafitte and I have such a trusting partnership at this point, I just thought about turning and he was right there with me. Then he found the trot fence perfectly and landed left. I was so happy that he landed all of his leads, because that has been something we have really been working on. He was perfect through the combination and jumped so well over the last.”
Timothy Maddrix & Cypress prevailed in the $15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby.
“I ended up sticking with my original plan. A lot of people were having trouble with the trot jump, but my horse isn’t spooky at all, so I knew that wasn’t going to be an issue. The only turn I was second guessing was to go inside to the last jump, but I didn’t because he was so fluid everywhere else. I didn’t want to risk stepping off the lead and shifting. I just tried not to lose,” joked Maddrix.
Luke Sassi and Waterfall Z landed the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby win.
“Waterfall is my sister’s horse. She does the junior hunters with him and when she can’t show I get to show him in the derbies. He’s so much fun to ride. You just have to keep his attention on the jumps, and he is perfect. He is never spooky and wants to do a good job for you.”
Will Simpson navigated a top finish aboard Whoop De Doo in the $24,000 C Jarvis Insurance Welcome Prix.
“Spooner did the seven beautifully in the first line. Whoop De Doo has such a quick step, I was thinking of doing the bowing seven, because I knew we could be just as fast as the horses that did six.”
“But, then, Tracy went in on Apple and that pair know each other like the back their hand. She walked down the six in the first line, then was super tight back to the vertical. Then she went ahead and did six to the double combination, which I didn’t even think of doing and I didn’t want to go there quite yet,” laughed Simpson.
Sophie Street and Rollingwoods California Cookie emerged victorious in the $2,000 WEC Ocala Pony Hunter Derby.
Due to a large number of entries in the $3,500 WEC Ocala 2’6” Non Pro Hunter Derby, the class was split into two sections; Junior and Amateur.
Finley Mattos and her own Love Story had a storybook ending in the $3,500 WEC Ocala 2’6” Junior Non Pro Hunter Derby, besting 18 other competitors.
In the $3,500 WEC Ocala 2’6” Amateur Non Pro Hunter Derby, Camryn Halley took home the top prize aboard her own Make Way.
Congratulations to all competitors on another successful week of equestrian sport!