Aboard Maverick, Mike McCormick of Flower Mound, TX earned $30,000 in prize money in today's $100,000 King Shavings Grand Prix. Maverick, a relative newcomer to the grand prix ranks, posted his first win on the West Coast at last November's LA International, and proved he can win on East Coast as well.
Thirty-six horses vied for the top prize in the grand finale of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. The new Post Time horse show grounds have proved popular with exhibitors. Tricia O'Connor was the first to earn a clear round aboard Furistos Treasure. McCormick and four others joined her in the jump-off.
O'Connor was first to go in the eight obstacle jump-off culminating with the 13a-b combination to fence 14. O'Connor led off and accumulated 12 faults. Mary Lisa Leffler then set the pace with Graf Rossini S with a fault-free round in 41.185 seconds. Neither Jill Henselwood nor Mario Deslauriers could match Leffler's clear round. Ian Millar and Nicos shaved a tenth of a second off O'Connor's time to take the lead. McCormick was last to go and made his ride definitive, beating Millar by almost two seconds.
McCormick was thrilled with Maverick's performance on behalf of owner Brady Dillingham. In addition to his own horses, McCormick also coaches grand prix rider Tracy Fenney who finished twelfth in today's class.
Today's course proved a worthy challenge to the horses and riders. Over half the class accrued faults at the triple combination, the second to last element of the course. Only fences 3 and 5 stayed up for every entry in the class. The capacity crowd cheered for the clean rounds, and "ah'd" in shared disappointment when a rail fell, especially for those riders clear until the end of the course.
As the five-week HITS Ocala Circuit wrapped up, many planned a return trip in 2003 to the expansive facility. In addition to the excellent show rings, trainers and riders enjoyed the many open riding areas.
For Agate Records:
Place/ Horse/ Rider/ Owner/ Faults - Time/ Prize Money
1st Maverick/ McCormick/
Brady Dillingham/ 0/0 - 39.830/ $30,000