Thermal, Calif., and Ocala, Fla. – Feb. 9
As he jumped three mounts around in the first round of the $50,000 Go Rentals Grand Prix at HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, John Pearce showed no signs that he was battling the flu.
Being a bit under the weather didn’t stop Pearce from turning in a jump-off like no other aboard Son Of A Gun to win the class. “I did the leave-out [strides] to the triple bar and the double combination,” he said. “But it was in the turns that I [caught Ashlee Bond Clarke]—her horse is a little bit greener and couldn’t pull off some of those turns, but mine knows his job and got it done.”
Bond Clarke of Hidden Hills, Calif., was the first to jump clear in Round 1 aboard Little Valley Farms’ Chella LS. She was later joined for the jump-off by Jenni McAllister of Sun Valley, Calif., in the irons of Here I Come for LEGISequine.com; Michelle Parker of San Marcos, Calif., with Cross Creek Farms’ Socrates De Midos and Pearce on Son of a Gun.
Bond Clarke and Chela LS have had a successful three weeks at HITS Thermal with two grand prix wins already in their pocket. She and the 10-year-old mare jumped clean in the jump-off to post time the time to beat at 44.04 seconds. McAllister and Parker both picked up faults to set the stage for a battle of the sexes between Bond Clarke and Pearce on his 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Pearce went all-out with Son Of A Gun and stopped the timers in 41.15 seconds to claim the blue.
Pearce was kicking himself after picking up a time fault in Round 1 on Chianto. “Son of a Gun and I went around seven seconds under the time [in Round 1] because I was not going to get another time fault,” said Pearce. “I may have been a little over ambitious, but that’s the competitor in me.”
Pearce was not the only rider to find trouble with the clock in Round 1—13 pairs picked up time faults out of a starting field of 33. Five of which, including Pearce, were sitting on clear rounds when they landed off the last jump, but the clock would eventually keep them from the jump-off.
On the same day in Ocala, Aaron Vale shook up the results a bit. Lisa Goldman and Tracy Fenney have been dominating the grand prix classes at HITS Ocala this season, but on Feb. 9, Vale swooped in on Spirit Of Alena and relegated them to second and third in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix.
Vale put the hammer down on “Spirit” to shave almost a full second off Fenney’s time aboard MTM Centano and nab the top check.
“He is one of those horses with a good mind, combined with an amazing stride. He has a great feel to him. For a big horse, he is very quick and has plenty of jump,” Vale said of Spirit, a chestnut German Sporthorse stallion (Paladjin—Alena) owned by Campos and Miranda Investments.
Vale began riding the horse in 2013 and has been bringing him along slowly. This was their first grand prix win together. “I am very happy with his performance. Hopefully we will get to the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on March 24,” Vale said.
$50,000 Go Rentals, presented by Zoetis
$50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis