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Monday, March 27, 2023

Alex Granato, Caelinn Leahy and Aaron Vale won in $100,000 Championships at Split Rock

MYAKKA CITY, Fla.--Alex Granato, Caelinn Leahy and Aaron Vale won $100,000 championships at the inaugural $300,000 Split Rock Championship series on Jan. 29 in the Grand Prix Arena at TerraNova Equestrian Center.

Alex Granato on King Van Het Keizershof EQ MediaAlex Granato on King Van Het Keizershof (Photo by EQ Media)

Split Rock is another new venue in Florida, so now there are, along with Wellington and HITS Ocala, the World Equestrian Center - Ocala and Split Rock, all offering huge prize money.

Nearly 140 entries contested the championships, with awards at heights of 1.35m, 1.25m and 1.15m going to Granato of Wellington, Fla,, Leahy of Maple Park, Ill. and Vale of Williston, Fla., respectively.

Canada's Peter Holmes set the tracks for the $300,000 Split Rock Championship which followed a winning-round format.

The top 25 percent of each section returned for the jump-off round in reverse order.

In the $100,000 1.35m Championship with 32 entries, only four jumped a clear round across the first track, so the four top four-fault finishers made it to the jump-off.

The last to go, Granato on King Van Het Keizershof finished in 38.079 seconds to win by more than four seconds.

Kaitlyn Williams on Cassio Melloni was second and Haley Hammer on Royale du Rouet was third.

"I've been lucky enough to see Derek Braun start with his one-day shows at his home farm and seeing what he's developed just here in the U.S. with a new idea every year, a different leg, and the addition of this series," Granato said." It helps the riders with a great payoff."


"I WAS really impressed," he said of TerraNova Equestrian Center. "I think the rings, the venue, the barns, the setting are beautiful. It's really nice to see the amount of space here. It's close to Ocala. It's close to Wellington, so it's not hard to get to. But having all those venues right at our fingertips, it's a little hard to tear yourself away. But seeing what has been built here, it'll be something we'll try to add to our roster a little more."

Caelinn Leahy on Hennessy EQ MediaCaelinn Leahy on Hennessy (Photo by EQ Media)For the $100,000 1.25m Championship, 44 contenders vied for the prize, and the format allowed for 11 spots in round two.

Leahy on Hennessy was clean in 39.587 seconds to win, and also get an amateur bonus, with Taylor Flury on Carrasca Z second in 30.94 seconds and Madison Kondracki on E Storm Cat, clean in 40.649 seconds, third.

"It is my first time at TerraNova and I'm absolutely loving it," said Leahy, who rides with Steve Schaeffer. "We're in the permanent stabling. It's absolutely beautiful and the rings are riding great. I think a lot of the shows down here can feel a little boxed-in and on top of one another. To have all this open space is awesome. I loved it yesterday. I rode my horses out on the cross-country course and got to take in the views. I think it's important, especially as horse people, to have a balance, to let your horses be horses and get outside the ring. And then also to allow them to perform at a high-level facility."

With 62 entries, the $100,000 1.15m Championship format offered 16 spots in the second round, and as a clear round would not secure a place in the jump-off, riders needed to be quick to advance.

Aaron Vale on Obu Wan EQ MediaAaron Vale on Obu Wan (Photo by EQ Media)In the jump-off, Vale on Obi Wan was clean in 43.183 seconds for the win, with Amy Foster on T.H. Magic second in 43.205 seconds and Mustafa Shah on Stakko Couer third in 44.138 seconds, and also receiving the leading junior/amateur bonus.

"It's my first trip here and I'm definitely wowed by it," Vale said. "The stabling is beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, as well as having the cushy mats inside. You've got everything that you could really ask for. You've got all these brilliant competition arenas. I think the footing's quite good. Sometimes the GGT can be a little too firm and I think they've got just the right balance here of firm, but it's got a little give to it as well. So, it's kind to the horses. And beautiful trails to ride on if you have time. So, it's just a great facility. We're lucky to have it here in Florida with the other great facilities in the state."

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