Aaron Vale topped the $75,000 World Equestrian Center (WEC) Grand Prix 1.50m for the second week in a row in the WEC Grand Arena at the Ocala venue on Saturday, January 16.
The course was designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky and featured a double combination, multiple liverpools, triple combination and a skinny jump, truly testing entries on every level.
There was an impressive roster of international riders in the field, resulting in a thrilling battle between Aaron Vale of Thinkslikeahorse in Williston, Florida, and Tracy Fenney of MTM Farm in Flower Mound, Texas, with seven of the top 12 placings being claimed by the two riders on multiple horses. Though they were neck and neck throughout the class, it was Aaron Vale who emerged victorious with Elusive for the second week in a row, finishing third with Major (pictured above), the runner-up last week.
Like last week at the World Equestrian Center, Aaron Vale and Thinkslikeahorse’s Elusive (Rodrigoo x Alouette) were first in the order. Vale and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, who he describes as “very competitive” flew to a first place finish in last week’s $75,000 WEC Grand Prix 1.50m and were determined to nab another shot at the win. The pair did just that, jumping a clear first round in a time of 83.492 seconds, well within the time allowed of 85 seconds
Next in the order were Thursday’s $20,000 Welcome Prix 1.45m winners Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM Apple (Favorit Ask x Kong’s Whopsie). Fenney and the nine-year-old Danish Warmblood mare were on fire on Thursday and carried the same spark into this afternoon’s class. The pair nailed a clear first round in 83.083 seconds, securing a spot in the jump-off.
Vale returned later in the order aboard Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Major (Carmargue x Pinot). Last week, Major’s clear jump-off time was just two seconds off of Elusive’s jump-off time and Vale was determined to close the small gap between his mounts this week. Vale and the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding were slightly more conservative in the first round, jumping clear in a time of 84.565 seconds, making sure to save plenty of energy for the jump-off.
First to return in the jump-off were Vale and Elusive. With few available inside turns, the pair stepped on the gas, surging forward between fences, leaving all rails up in a time of 40.670 seconds, which would prove unbeatable. Fenney and MTM Apple were next to contest the short course. Though they left all rails up, they could not catch Vale and Elusive’s time, stopping the clock at 41.586 seconds and sliding into the second place spot, which they held for the remainder of the class. Vale returned later in the order aboard Major, again giving the course their all. The pair stopped the clock with a clear round at 43.543 seconds, claiming third place.
Vale described both of his mounts: “Elusive is like a pet. My wife and I have both shown him. I bought him early in his six-year-old year, so we’ve had him for six years now. He’s won a bunch with both of us. I hope for my daughter to inherit him one day. He’s a special horse in our family. Major is a horse of Don Stewart’s and is for sale. I’ve had a lot of success on him over the past few years. He seems to like this arena, so I hope to ride him a bit longer.”
Vale piloted two additional mounts to a top-12 finish. He and Empire Show Stables’ Boreale De Talma (Quick Star x Reggae de Talma), a nine-year-old Selle Francais mare, finished in seventh place with a speedy time of 42.983 seconds on the short course and one unlucky rail. Vale also finished 12th aboard Troy Glaus’ Mr. Incredible (Inshallah de Muze x Zuduela). He and the eight-year-old Warmblood gelding had one unfortunate rail in the first round, but their speedy time of 82.792 seconds kept them in the ribbons.
Like Vale, Fenney also secured two additional top-12 placings. She and MTM Farm’s MTM Igor van de Heibos (Lord Z x Prafda), a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion, finished in 10th place with just one time penalty on the clock in the first round. Fenney also earned 11th place aboard MTM Farm’s MTM Reve Du Paradis (Crown Z x Kaline de Semilly), a 15-year-old Selle Francais gelding, brushing one rail in the first round, but flying through the course in 82.401 seconds.
$75,000 WEC Grand Prix 1.50m Results
- Elusive, Aaron Vale – 0 | 0 | 40.670
- MTM Apple, Tracy Fenney – 0 | 0 | 41.586
- Major, Aaron Vale – 0 | 0 | 43.543
- Diamant’s Legacy, Jordan Petersen – 0 | 0 | 46.457
- Dubai, Samuel Parot – 0 | 4 | 41.715
- Verdini D’Houtveld Z, Sharn L. Wordley – 0 | 4 | 41.731
- Boreale De Talma, Aaron Vale – 0 | 4 | 42.983
- Cinven CR, Bryn R. Sadler – 0 | 4 | 44.303
- Tycoon D’Argences, Jenna P. Friedman – 0 | 4 | 47.410
- MTM Igor van de Heibos, Tracy Fenney – 1 | 85.318