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Ocala, FL – The first Saturday night grand prix of World Equestrian Center – Ocala’s 2022 USEF Summer Series kicked off this evening with 32 competitive horse-and-rider combinations vying for the win in the $100,000 Florida Coast Equipment National Grand Prix. FEI Level III course designer Andy Christiansen created the tracks, where eight pairs found the way to a clear first round and six jumped double clear. In the end it was Aaron Vale who took home the top prize aboard ThinksLikeAHorse’s Elusive (Rodrigoo x Alouette).
Vale is a fan favorite at World Equestrian Center – Ocala and a frequent visitor to the winner’s circle. Tonight was no different as Vale continued his hot streak with the talented Elusive.
Vale and Elusive were the last pair down the ramp into the WEC Grand Arena to contest Andy Christiansen’s challenging track. Vale and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding delivered a flawless first round in 80.511 seconds with all rails up.
Vale and Elusive were the final pair to return for the jump-off, “You don’t get many jump-offs where you are stacking one on top of the other; fast, faster, fastest! It was great for the crowd.”
Vale wasn’t sure that it was possible to beat second place finisher, Santiago Lambre, “I really didn’t think a faster time was possible. I was hoping, if I could get a nice angle on the first jump, just maybe, I could get one less to the second jump, but that didn’t work out. I ended up having to slow down,” laughed Vale.
“The next line was the seven. There wasn’t really another option there, and I ended up having to wait to get the seven done. I knew I wasn’t faster there. I tried to turn real tight back to the next fence, but I felt like I didn’t catch it very fast. I did turn and run over to the vertical, which was pretty quick. Then I think I stayed out a big more than Santiago to the double, so at that point, I thought there was no way I was winning,” said Vale.
“I landed after the combination, gave him a little juice because I wasn’t sure I could get the nine like all the others because he’s a smaller horse with a smaller stride. He gave me a bit more juice and then I knew we were going to make it. When I landed, I looked at the clock in disbelief.”
Vale and Elusive flew through the timers, stopping the clock at a remarkable 33.865 seconds.
Todd Minikus and Bit By Bit Group’s Amex Z (Andiamo Z x Senne) rounded out the top three in tonight’s $100,000 Florida Coast Equipment National Grand Prix. Minikus and the 13-year-old Zangershiede mare put forth a clean first round in 76.560 seconds, well under the time allowed of 82 seconds. Minikus and Amex Z were the third pair down the ramp to try their hand at the short course, where they dashed through the lines and flew around the turns in 34.722 seconds to ultimately secure the third place spot.
An additional $5,000 was awarded to the fastest four-faulter of the $100,000 Florida Coast Equipment National Grand Prix. Second place finisher, Santiago Lambre and his own Dingeman snagged the award with an incredibly fast time of 71.887 seconds with one down.
Taylor Kain received the $5,000 ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.
$100,000 Florida Coast Equipment National Grand Prix:
1.Elusive, Aaron Vale (USA), ThinksLikeAHorse: 0 | 0 | 33.865
2. Pampero, Santiago Lambre (BRA), Santiago Lambre: 0 | 0 | 34.450
3. Amex Z, Todd Minikus (USA), Bit By Bit Group: 0 | 0 | 34.722
4. MTM Apple, Tracy Fenney, MTM Farm: 0 | 0 | 35.381
5. Gatsby, Sharn Wordley (NZL), Sharn Wordley: 0 | 0 | 35.825
6. Comtess 202, Santiago Lambre (BRA), Santiago Lambre: 0 | 0 | 37.490
7. Cristo Beech, Aaron Vale (USA), ThinksLikeAHorse: 0 | 4 | 41.460
8. Alan 111 Z, David Cameron (AUS), Linda Huddy & Sally Watkins: 0 | 4 | 41.460
9. Catch The Dollar, Bryn Sadler (USA), Showcase 81, LLC: 1 | 82.448
10. Dingeman, Santiago Lambre (BRA), Santiago Lambre: 4 | 71.887