Ocala, Fla.—March 22
When there’s a line-up full of experienced hunters competing for the biggest hunter paycheck of the HITS Ocala circuit, you don’t expect a 5-year-old to step up for blue. But rider Adrienne Iverson wasn’t surprised that her partner Fandango HX earned a serious payday. He’s been a natural in the hunter ring since he started just six weeks ago.
“He’s very simple,” said Iverson, who rides for owner Redfield Farm. “I’m still learning him, and he’s new at this, but there’s not a question we’ve asked him that he hasn’t been able to answer.”
Today’s question involved an unfamiliar venue—the huge stadium across the street from the rest of HITS Post Time Farm which usually plays host to major jumper events like last month’s Furusiyya Nations Cup.
Most of the 36 entries looked at home in that arena navigating Buddy Brown’s flowing hunter course. Most of the tracks were over lines too long to bother with a measuring tape: One rider on deck pointed out that she counted 11 strides between two fences when she watched from the sidelines, but didn’t think she could count that high when she was in the saddle.
Fandango took the lead in Round 1 with a score of 92, and Iverson admitted he felt a touch tired in the second round when his score dipped to 81.5. But that was good enough to edge out Harold Chopping and Caramo, with the winners of last year’s $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final (N.Y.), Dress Balou and Aaron Vale, claiming third with a second round score of 90.
Redfield Farm owner Emil Spadone was thrilled to see the Dutch Warmblood stallion (Vittorio—V. Rimette, Odermus R) do so well early in his career. Stal Hendrix bred the bay, and it took two years for Spadone to convince Paul Hendrix to let the horse leave the Netherlands and come to the United States. He got here just in time for start of the circuit, and earned the high pre-green circuit title right off the bat.
Fandango will enjoy some downtime now that HITS Ocala’s wrapping up. Spadone and Iverson are aiming Fandango at the new Stal Hendrix Pre-green Futurity Final at the HITS Championship Weekend (N.Y.) in September.