Julie Oliver and Montego’s Marvelous Rounds Garner Green 3’3” Hunter Championship
The final month of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit is officially underway, and Julie Oliver and Montego kicked off Week VI by collecting the championship title in the Green 3’3” Hunter division. Oliver skillfully navigated the coming 6-year-old Westphalian gelding around the Main Hunter ring for owner Kelly Williams, displaying their style as they stepped up to the new division.
“Montego was awesome,” expressed Oliver. “He is a funny horse. He’s got a lot of personality. He really just needs to be shown where to go and he handles the rest.”
Based at Integrity Farms, Oliver has continued to see Montego rise to the occasion for his rider since last summer, and Thursday’s victory was no exception. Williams and trainer Jennifer Midiri Berry decided to skip the 3’ year, having Montego move from the 2’9” Young Hunters up to the 3’3” division this season. Montego has taken everything in stride thus far, helping Oliver score an 87 in the first round and an 85 in the handy for the championship title. The division’s reserve championship went to Alexa Bayko and Casamigos RFB.
“We just started him in the 3’3” Green,” explained Oliver. “Yesterday he just marched right around and gave us really nice efforts. He was a little tired today, but he still gave us just enough effort. We were hoping to make sure he kept picking his feet up high enough, and he sure did.”
Overall, it was a wonderful debut for Oliver and Montego’s team. “We are thrilled to come to [HITS],” she concluded. “The ring’s much bigger. I’d say every time I’ve been in the ring the footing has been top-notch. We’re really happy – it’s fantastic.”
Hunter action at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit will continue this week with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Horses and riders hoping to make their derby debuts will have the opportunity to showcase their skills during the Post Time 2’6″ and 2’ Hunter Derbies. Top horses and riders should mark their calendars today for the second $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derbies, which will be held during Weeks IX at Post Time Farm. For more information visit the horse show office or www.hitsshows.com.