That’s a wrap for the HITS Ocala Winter Celebration (IX), featuring world-class hunter and jumper competition. Riders are certainly on their A-game as we near the end of the Circuit. This week featured the $200,000 HITS Ocala Grand Prix, where many of the top riders in the sport prepared their horses for next week’s Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. Along with featured competition, riders worked diligently to earn their final points toward the Tack Shack of Ocala 2nd-Half Circuit and Pyranha Overall Circuit Awards, which will be presented prior to next week’s Great American Million.
Taking home the first blue ribbon in featured jumper competition was David Jennings in Wednesday’s $5,000 Open Welcome. Jennings was first in the order aboard CANNTINUE, for Juniper Farms, and his time of 36.969 could not be caught.
2nd Place: Cassandra Kahle & HH MESSENGER [38.465]
3rd Place: Diego Perez Bilbao & MEADOW VALE CRUISE [39.134]
Conor Swail claimed top honors in the $10,000 HITS Open Prix aboard KOSS VAN HEISTE, for Dalco Ltd, in a time of 37.524.
2nd Place: Dorothy Douglas & MTM THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [38.733]
3rd Place: Tracy Fenney & MTM DOLCE VITA [39.143]
Friday began with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix in the Grand Prix Stadium where Vanessa Mannix was welcomed to the Winner’s Circle aboard her own CATINKA 25 to accept the blue ribbon. Mannix was last to jump-off and bested the field with her time of 39.501.
2nd Place: Hunter Holloway & PEPITA CON SPITA [40.704]
3rd Place: Swail & VITAL CHANCE DE LA ROQUE [41.532]
Fenney moved up in the standings to take the win in the $15,000 HITS 1.40m Classic on Saturday aboard MTM LOCADEUR for MTM Farm. Being early in the order and the first rider to make it to the jump-off can be tricky as you set the pace, but nobody could beat Fenney’s time of 40.655.
2nd Place: Perez Bilbao & ALTER EGO [44.533]
3rd Place: Ashley Foster & STARDUST [45.174]
Jumper Classic Winners
$1,000 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic – Low: Kristina Gallo & CANTURINIO
$1,500 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic – Medium: Aiva Gamelin & SANITA PJ
$2,000 M&S Child Jumper Classic – High: Sophia Ayers & FOR FASHION
$2,000 M&S Adult Jumper Classic – High: Gabriella Fournier & CASADORA 4
$2,500 Pyranha NAL Jr/A-O/Am 1.25m Jumper Classic: Madison Kondracki & SHUTTERFLY
$5,000 Jr/A-O/Am 1.35m Jumper Classic: Audrey Muscari & CINGSLEY 2
$7,500 U-Dump Jr/A-O/Am 1.45m Jumper Classic: Hayley Waters & VITEL SOURDIN
A field of 46 riders were welcomed to the Grand Prix Stadium on Sunday afternoon for the $200,000 HITS Ocala Grand Prix. Just eight riders would jump a clean first round over the course designed by Ms. Catalina “Catsy” Cruz of Mexico City, Mexico. The jump-off consisted of past Million Winners, Grand Prix Veterans, and riders that are no stranger to the Winner’s Circle at HITS Ocala. There was no doubt that it was going to be a competitive jump-off with each rider locked-in on the top prize.
Capping off the Ocala Winter Celebration (IX) with her fourth Grand Prix win of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit was Fenney, jumping clean in the first round aboard her two mounts with a good shot at taking home the win.
First to return in jump-off was Andre Thieme and CRAZY GIRL, posting a fault-free a time of 41.930 and setting the pace for the class. Following Thieme, was Fenney and her first mount in the jump-off, MTM REVE DU PARADIS. An unfortunate rail at the first fence would ultimately place them fifth. “Following Andre [Theime], I had an idea of what the time would be like,” said Fenney. “Aaron [Vale] has been super on fire and I knew that he has won a lot with that horse [ELUSIVE] so I knew with him behind me and Jordan [Coyle] also having two after me, that I needed to be pretty quick.”
Fenney had one more shot at the win as she was fourth to return aboard MTM APPLE, owned by MTM Farm. She knew that she would need to be quick and accurate as Vale and Coyle, both known for their incredible speed, were standing by to jump-off. The pair navigated the jump-off in 36.645 and held onto the lead until the very end. “I don’t know that I’ve won a $200,000, so that’s pretty impressive,” exclaimed Fenney, beaming with joy. “She [MTM APPLE] was great and I am so excited! Aaron [Vale] was within a whisper of me so it could have gone either way today.”
Second place was awarded to Aaron Vale and ELUSIVE, who were also the winners of this class in 2020. They came up just a hair short, posting a time of 39.714 in the jump-off. Rounding out the top three in the class was Thieme and CRAZY GIRL with the only other fault-free jump-off.
Hunters competed for the top prize on Saturday in the $10,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix and $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix in the Main Hunter Ring. Kicking off the day with a win was Kahle for her ride aboard MAXLIGHT for Redfield Farm in the $10,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix. Kahle was awarded the highest score in each round, 88 and 87, for a total of 175 and the blue ribbon.
2nd Place: Vale & JAGERBOMB 
3rd Place: Daniel Geitner & TROPICS 
Saturday afternoon came to a close with Elle Moreno taking the win in the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix aboard HASHTAG for Stacy Lane-Sanderson. Moreno was awarded an 87 in each round to finish with a cumulative score of 174.
2nd Place: Emma Covarrubias & ENDLESS JOY 
3rd Place: Moreno & CASCAVEL 
Hunter Classic Winners
$1,000 USHJA Green Hunter Incentive: Hunt Tosh & CITATION
$1,000 A-O Hunter Classic – 3’6″: Darby Toben & GIOVANNIE
$1,000 Eastern Hay A-O Hunter Classic – 3’3″: Jenney Aselage & LOON LAKE
$1,000 Antares Junior Hunter Classic – 3’6″: Maddie Tosh & CAMEO
$1,000 Junior Hunter Classic – 3’3″: Lillian Geitner & BANKS MILL
$1,000 Perfect Products Pony Hunter Classic: M. Tosh & STORYTELLER
$500 M&S/NAL/WIHS SmartPak Adult Hunter Classic: Samantha Perreault & HEARTCORE
$500 M&S/NAL/WIHS Child Hunter Classic: Kate Egan & ZORVINO
$500 M&S/NAL/WIHS Child Hunter Classic – Pony: Lyla Tuttle & OTTERIDGE GUNSMOKE
M&S Bit O’ Straw Hunter Classic: Chloe Stix & FABIAN
Click here for the full listing of results from the HITS Ocala Winter Celebration.
The final week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit kicks-off this Wednesday for the HITS Ocala Championship which features USEF-Rated Premier/6* competition through March 28.