Vale & Balou Blue in $500K Hunter PrixBy Staff Report September 6, 2015
Aaron Vale and Dress Balou took blue and a stunning $150,000 check in the HITS Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Finals. The event is the richest hunter rider competition in the world, and played out over three days, Sept. 4-6, at HITS’ headquaters in Saugerties, NY.
A total of 75 riders qualified, based on their HITS Hunter Prix Rider Rankings accrued throughout the year, and there were additional wildcards and manager’s choice entries.
The course was beautifully designed by Rian Beals, which allowed the incredible HITS hunter course to shine. Fences were 3’5”, with spreads not to exceed height. The format of the HITS Hunter Prix is unique. The 3’5″ height allows younger horses to compete without sacrificing their first-year status.
The first round is over a classic-type course of 12-16 fences, scored by a panel of at least 2 judges. The Second round is over a course of 10-12 fences and includes handy elements. Scores from both rounds are added to determine the top 25 to return for the third round, at which point scores for the Top 25 are set back to zero. It is scored by three panels of judges.
Vale, who is based in Ocala, FL, has more than 170 Grand Prix wins to his credit, earning more than $3 million in prize money. For the Diamond Mills class he was riding for owner Donald Stewart.
Victoria Colvin took second place, aboard Inclusive, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, earning $90,000. Adrienne Iverson riding Brook Run Farm’s Reliance placed third, for a prize of $60,000.
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