Category Archives: HITS

Daniel Coyle and Legacy Dominate Great American $500k Grand Prix at HITS Ocala

Daniel Coyle and Legacy.

Ocala, Fla. – March 27, 2022 – Crowds filled the stands at the HITS Ocala Stadium on Sunday afternoon to watch the world’s top athletes compete in the Great American $500,000 Grand Prix, featuring the biggest show jumping purse in the United States. The day concluded with a thrilling 10-horse jump-off featuring athletes from representing six countries. In the end, it was Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and Legacy who out raced the other riders, claiming the biggest check in the country. Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Risen earned the second-place prize, while Rowan Willis (AUS) and Billy Guilder placed third.

“I did my first ever five-star Nations Cup here many years ago, so I always have a good feeling about [HITS Ocala],” expressed Coyle. “Today I showed that. It’s an amazing big arena, with nice jumps, prize money and people come. It’s as good as [anywhere in the world]. My other horses weren’t going to plan [in Wellington] so I decided not to use Legacy. Jordan [Coyle] said there’s a very good class in Ocala, so I decided, ‘Perfect; I’ll go there,’ and luckily I won!”

Course designer Marina Azevedo (BRA) built a large and technical track that used the expansive HITS Stadium to challenge horse and rider combinations from start to finish. Rails fell throughout the course, including through a yellow and white oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination with a bending ling to a triple bar and a delicate vertical. Athletes finished over the final line that featured two of the biggest oxers of the course before they galloped to the tall vertical towards the gate.

“It was a very good group,” noted Azevedo. “I was expecting eight clear, but the footing was so good and the horses were jumping so well. This ring is very nice because it’s very level, so we don’t have to go up and down, which is very good for everybody.”

The field of 46 starters was whittled down to just 10 to return for the tiebreaker. The jump-off featured two tight rollbacks, a vertical-oxer double from the original triple combination and a long gallop to the final oxer. Jordan Coyle (IRL) was the second to return and set the Great American time to beat with Ariso, after leaving all the rails intact and breaking the beam in 39.998 seconds.

Jordan’s brother Daniel was next in the ring with Legacy, and after watching his brother’s round he knew exactly what he needed to do to win. Leaving out a stride in the first line and taking a tight roll back to the next vertical, he then headed home, slicing the Great American vertical before racing to the final oxer on the course. He never touched a rail and crossed the finish line in a speedy 38.526 seconds to go straight to the top of the leaderboard.

“I would say I had a big advantage today,” said Daniel. “I was third in the jump off, but already Jordan had as good a round as you probably could have, so that put pressure on me to go as fast as I could. Thankfully that paid off because if he hadn’t done that, I maybe wouldn’t have put as much pressure on myself!”

Vanderveen produced the next clear round with Bull Run’s Risen, attempting to catch Daniel’s time with a very direct approach to the Great American vertical, but she was less than a second shy of top spot, stopping the clock at 39.148 seconds for the second-place position.

“I didn’t get to see [Daniel] go, but I did see his time,” said Vanderveen. “The jump off was really nice with the amount of open running, which works for the big horse that I have, and also a nice left turn and right turn. It’s great to have it on both sides, so I tried to use it to my advantage, and it worked out.”

Willis stepped into the HITS Stadium with Billy Guilder and also had his eye on the top of the leaderboard. He made a smooth and tight rollback after the second fence and galloped quickly to the oxer after the double combination, but his time was not quite good enough to catch the leaders. He left all the rails in their cups, but his time of 39.520 would rank third, just ahead of Jordan. The remaining riders were unable to top the four leaders, and it was Daniel who returned to the ring to lead the lap of honor.

“Going behind [Daniel and Kristen], there wasn’t much left to do, just pray and hope,” admitted Willis. “I managed to beat one Coyle brother, but not the other! I was really happy with my horse. He tried his heart out and went as fast as he possibly could today. It was a great course, always a good competition here, great jumping, and I am looking forward to the next one.”

Daniel and Legacy, a 12-year-old Zangersheide mare owned by Ariel Grange, are already looking ahead for 2022, aiming to represent Ireland at the 2022 World Equestrian Games.

“Legacy has been an amazing horse for me and has done all of the divisions,” he noted. “I did European Championships last year with a top ten finish. I’ve only jumped three, maybe four, bigger classes this year. I haven’t been saving her, but I’m trying not to use everything in the start of the year. I’m hoping that she goes to the World Equestrian Games and hopefully she does something there.”

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

Stella Wasserman and Munich Steal the Spotlight to Win HITS Equitation Championship

© HITS LLC.

Ocala, Fla. – March 25, 2022 – The 2022 HITS Equitation Championship took center stage on Friday night at the HITS Ocala Stadium as part of the Ocala Championship Week. Working hard to qualify for this special event, 28 riders showcased their skills over two rounds of competition under the lights in the Stadium. At the end of the night, it was West Coast athlete Stella Wasserman whose top scores earned the winning title with Munich. Fellow Shadow Ridge rider Abigail Gordon placed second aboard Heartbeat Z, while third place went to Madison Ramsey riding Maguro.

Hunter Holloway and Liemba Leap to $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Victory

On Friday afternoon, athletes gathered at the HITS Ocala Stadium for the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix as they prepared for Sunday’s highlight event, the Great American $500,000 Grand Prix. With seven horses qualifying for the jump-off, speed became the name of the game. Hunter Holloway galloped away with the victory aboard Liemba, ahead of West Coast athletes Mark Watring riding Limbossini RC and Elisa Broz with Tinkerbell, who rounded out the top three, respectively.

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

Andre Thieme Captures Great American $1 Million Grand Prix Win

It was a perfect day at HITS Ocala for the seventh Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, where riders from near and far took their shot at the coveted title and the winner’s share of $350,000. The sun was shining as previous Million Winners, first time Million riders, Grand Prix and Olympic Veterans, and newcomers were welcomed under the HITS arch into the Grand Prix Stadium for the richest class in the world so far in 2020 and 2021. Not only was this the seventh Great American Million, but it was also the 22nd $1 Million Grand Prix hosted by HITS.

The course designed by Mr. Bernardo Cabral of Lisbon, Portugal challenged riders to be accurate and earn their shot at the top honors. “This class was a varied group of riders. Some have been in Ocala all circuit, and some came from other parts of the state. It was a big field, so I thought it was a hard class to put together,” said Cabral. “I didn’t make it overly big but it was technical and I thought asked a lot of questions to the riders, but also left an easy way out for the horses if there was a mistake by the pilot.” The first round course consisted of fourteen fences and included several delicate verticals throughout the track, often with wide oxers right before or after, making riders plan their adjustments quickly. The triple bar to the triple combination was a unique effort early in the course, and the last line of a wide oxer away from the ingate to the final vertical foiled many a rider’s plan of making it to the jump-off. Eight riders jumped clean to move on to the jump-off course which featured several new elements as well as parts from the first round course.

Andre Thieme is officially the most decorated HITS Million Winner as Sunday marked his fourth HITS Million title, this time taking home the blue ribbon aboard his own CHAKARIA. “I think everybody can tell by now that this class [HITS $1 Million Grand Prix] means something to me! It’s my goal every year and while I’m not giving away other classes, I definitely don’t put as much effort toward some of the other classes,” said Thieme. “I try to really produce my horses for this class every single time. I try to be sure that everything on the day of this class goes perfect because this is the class that I really want to win each year.”

Thieme’s first HITS Million win came aboard ARAGON ROUET in the 2011 Saugerties Million, followed by his first win in the Great American Million aboard CONTANGA 3 in 2014, and the third being back in Saugerties with CONTHENDRIX in 2017. “Now that I’ve won this class four times, it’s just unbelievable to me,” Thieme exclaimed. “I would have never thought that it is possible, but I have a superstar horse for the first time in my life and it’s just so much easier with that kind of a horse.”

Thieme has been riding CHAKARIA for the past year-and-a-half and said that it didn’t take him long to realize how amazing the chestnut mare is. “I couldn’t believe my luck that for the first time in my life, I was a little bit quicker than someone else buying the horse. She is fast, sound, a fighter, careful, and scopey – I don’t know how to start and how to end; she’s just an amazing horse.”

As Thieme continued talking about the day, he discussed the course, saying, “When I first walked it, I thought that it was probably going to be a little bit too small. I was expecting something bigger for the number of horses entered, to not have 15 clear rounds. Bernardo [Cabral] explained it to me and I realized that the course was a touch trickier than I thought.” Going 41st in the order, Thieme was the fifth to go clean in the first round, giving him an advantage of returning later in the in the jump-off.  Several early riders had rails or other mistakes, so Thieme knew a clear round was most important, but a fast time would put the pressure on the final three. Thieme jumped clear in 34.393 to claim the lead. “It worked for my horse because she is really careful,” said Thieme. “I have to thank Tom and HITS once more because without him we wouldn’t have a class like this and I and many of the other riders really appreciate it.”

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

New Features on Showhorse TV This Summer

©ESI Photograhpy.

HITS and Showhorse TV are excited to announce expanded Live Stream and Video Services to be introduced at HITS Saugerties during the Great American Summer Series presented by Alliant Private Client. Every ring will be streamed live at Showhorse.tv, and videos will be archived and accessible for a full year.

“In an effort to minimize the number of people on the showgrounds this summer, HITS has arranged to live stream from every ring, every day,” said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS, Inc. “During these very unique times, this allows all of us to help deliver the safest showing experience possible. You and others will be able to access these videos at any time for the next 12 months.” Each week, exhibitors at HITS Saugerties will receive a code to access the live stream and archived videos. The code will be available in Show Office.

Remember, every ring is being live streamed every day. Just create your User Account at Showhorse.tv and enter the code provided by the Show Office and you can watch and re-watch every round from the show.  With Showhorse TV, you’ll never miss out on watching any of the featured classes at HITS Saugerties the Summer.

1) Log in to your account at Showhorse.tv OR create a new account.  Creating the account is FREE.  Just enter a Username and Password on the Showhorse.tv website.

2) Go to Showhorse.tv/discover.

3) Select any “Live Stream” or to re-watch a recorded class choose “Video” for the week you were in attendance.

4) When the Purchase Screen appears, enter the event Promo Code supplied by Show Office for that week.

5) Share the code with friends and family.  Anyone can use the code to access all Live Stream and Video Archives – they’ll just need to create a FREE Showhorse TV account.

Please Note: The Option to enter Promo Code to unlock “Live Streams” and “Recorded Rounds” is only available on the Showhorse TV website (Showhorse.tv/discover), not the Showhorse TV app. After having done so, they will be unlocked and available on the app as well.

More information at HITSShows.com.

Join HITS for the Great American Summer Series

HITS, Inc. is pleased to announce that, pending USEF approval, HITS-on-the-Hudson will be host to a six-week series of shows this summer that will combine three existing Vermont Summer Festival shows and three HITS Saugerties Summer Series shows to create the Great American Summer Series, July 1 – August 9, 2020.

“We are pleased to be working with John Ammerman and the Vermont Summer Festival to create the Great American Summer Series at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York this year,” said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS. “When John [Ammerman] first found out he could not run shows in Vermont in 2020, we immediately began collaborating to bring our two circuits together to provide exhibitors with a world-class experience this summer.”

The Great American Summer Series will begin July 1 with two VSF Shows, the Vermont Summer Special and Manchester Summer Festival, followed by the three-week HITS Saugerties Summer Series, and finishing with the Vermont Summer Celebration.

We expect to hear from USEF next week and will make our final announcement and publish the Great American Summer Series Prize List then.

Stay tuned for more information at HITSShows.com.

Update on Commonwealth National at HITS Culpeper in April

Out of an abundance of caution and in the best interest of HITS exhibitors, their horses, and HITS employees, HITS President and CEO, Tom Struzzieri, made the decision to cancel the Commonwealth National Horse Show, April 15-19, at HITS Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Virginia.

“Health and Safety come first,” said Struzzieri. “This was a tough decision. The Culpeper April show is one of our favorite shows all year, but the well-being of our exhibitors and staff is the top priority for us right now. We wanted to get the word out early so exhibitors, staff, and their families can make plans appropriately.”

The HITS Culpeper Summer Series at Commonwealth Park will now kick off with the two-week July Series, July 1-12, that will feature two USHJA National Hunter Derbies as well as USHJA Green Hunter Incentive qualifying classes. The August series runs two weeks, August 12-23, and the Culpeper Finals horse show closes the season September 23-27.

“We will be back for the summer and fall with bells on,” Struzzieri continued. “In the meantime, we hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and we look forward to seeing you soon.”

The HITS Culpeper Prize list is available at HITSShows.com. If you have any questions regarding the April show, or would like assistance as you make plans for the Summer and Fall shows, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 845-246-8833 or info@hitsshows.com.

We will continue to closely monitor the health situation and stay in daily contact with appropriate officials and health experts for HITS Culpeper and all HITS Summer Horse Shows. We will post updates as needed on our website or HITS Facebook.

Aaron Vale Secures Second Grand Prix Win of HITS Ocala Winter Circuit in $200k Grand Prix

It was a beautiful day for the final Grand Prix of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. A field of 58 riders were ready to take on the $200,000 CaptiveOne Grand Prix, over a course designed by Oscar Soberon of Dallas, Texas. The triple combination at fence 12 proved to be a challenge for many riders in the first round, with 31 having faults at one or more of elements. A tight time allowed added to the pressure, just to be in the top 12 with a four fault score riders had to have a time of 78.885 or quicker.

Rowan Willis set the pace with the first clear ride in the jump-off in a time of 40.784 aboard BLUE MOVIE to take home third place. A few trips later, Willis returned to the ring and topped his first ride with DIABLO VII in 40.608 for the red ribbon. But it was Aaron Vale and ELUSIVE who took home top honors in $200,000 CaptiveOne Grand Prix when they came in and broke the 40-second mark, clearing the jump-off course in 39.158. Vale saved time by choosing a direct route from fence five to six in eight strides where most did nine to claim their second victory of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit.

That’s a wrap! While the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit ended a week earlier than expected, the health and safety of our exhibitors and their horses, our spectators, and staff come first. President and CEO of HITS, Tom Struzzieri, made the decision early Friday morning that the 39th edition of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit would end following the close of competition. The grounds were closed to spectators, but riders were all in high spirits on Sunday as the season closed out with the $200,000 CaptiveOne Grand Prix, the Tack Shack of Ocala Second-Half Circuit Awards, and the HITS Ocala Grand Circuit Champions.

Even though this year’s circuit is complete, we are looking forward to 2021 and celebrating our 40th Anniversary in central Florida. The circuit will start December 9 and will again offer 12 weeks of USEF-Rated shows featuring over 400 classes in more than 100 divisions each week, along with special classes and great prize money throughout. Plus, we are excited to announce that the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix will return to close out the circuit March 2021. Look for more information in the coming months and the official prize list to be released in October.

Click here for the full listing of results from the HITS Ocala Winter Celebration.

For more info, please contact the staff at HITS Post Time Farm, 352-620-2275 or info@hitsshows.com.

HITS Ocala Taking Steps to Protect Health and Safety of Participants

While there are no reported cases of coronavirus in the Ocala area, out of an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our exhibitors, their horses, and HITS employees, we will close this year’s HITS Ocala Winter Circuit at the end of competition on Sunday, March 15.

“Safety and health come first,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “Obviously horses can stay on the property following competition on Sunday. Please reach out to HITS staff if you have any special timing needs. All of us at HITS are greatly disappointed with this news, but are happy to be able to make this announcement in a voluntary manner. Riders planning on showing in the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix should stay tuned for an announcement from HITS regarding a replacement competition of equal importance to this unparalleled class.” Looking ahead, we are pleased that Great American has signed on to sponsor the Ocala Million again in 2021.

Riders who have been competing for 2nd-Half and Overall Grand Circuit Champion Awards will be honored this Sunday prior to the $200,000 CaptiveOne Grand Prix.

Through next week and beyond as needed, HITS Staff will remain on-site at Post Time Farm. Feed and bedding will continue to be available. Rings will be maintained for use by riders on-site. Food service and the Horse Show Office will remain open. Those staying in Campers, GenZHomes, or the on-site Houses and Condos are also welcome to stay.

Beginning Friday, March 13, HITS Post Time Farm will be closed to the general public.

HITS will continue to closely monitor the health situation and stay in daily contact with appropriate officials and health experts in Marion County.

For questions or concerns, please contact the staff at HITS Post Time Farm, 352-620-2275 or info@hitsshows.com.

Enjoy the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix in Style

The Seventh Annual Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, on Sunday, March 22, is less than a month away. The richest Grand Prix in America will feature a great group of Grand Prix veterans and rising stars, including nearly a dozen past Olympians and a dozen more Olympic hopefuls. This year’s Great American Million is an event you don’t want to miss.

Watch top Grand Prix riders including Beezie Madden and McLain Ward representing the United States, Jill Henselwood and Beth Underhill representing Canada, Rowan Willis and Scott Keach of Australia, Sharn Wordley of New Zealand, Andre Thieme of Germany, and more. Be a part of show jumping history, where past Million Champions meet first time contestants all in hopes of securing the crown jewel of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit.

General Admission Tickets are $10 for Adults, Children 12 & Under free.
Grandstand seating or bring your own lawn chairs. Snack Bar available.
Season Passes grant admittance to the Great American Million also.

Day VIP Passes are $150 per person and include lunch buffet with beer and wine service.
Day VIP seating will be open style seating in a covered tent overlooking the Grand Prix Stadium.
Day VIP Passes must be purchased in advance and are not refundable.

For more information, contact the Horse Show Office at 352.620.2275 or info@hitsshows.com.

Cheers to 39 Years at HITS Ocala

The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit is HITS’ longest-running horse show series, having started in Gainesville in 1982.  Now celebrating its 39th year, the annual USEF-Rated show jumping circuit returns to HITS Post Time Farm for what may prove to be its biggest season yet in terms of horses, participants, prize money, and economic impact on the surrounding community.

“In this first week we have already seen an increase of 500 stalls for a total of 2,200 stalls rented on-property,” said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO, HITS, Inc. “We expect that trend to continue the rest of the circuit, putting us on pace to grow by 30% this year, surpassing our previous entry records.”

A Staple Winter Circuit Returns

Having grown from a five-week circuit at its inception to the current 12-week schedule that runs from December through March each year, the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit offers USEF National- and Premier-Rated Hunter competition, and 4*, 5*, and 6* Jumper competition.  Eight of the shows boast the highest Hunter Rating of Premier, and increased Grand Prix prize money has raised the number of shows with a 6* Jumper rating to seven.

These highly-rated USEF shows offer exhibitors at HITS Ocala valuable qualifying points for the prestigious “Indoor” horse shows, a number of National Medal and Horsemanship finals, and several USHJA programs.  In addition, points earned and money won throughout the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit count toward USEF Horse of the Year National and Zone Awards.

HITS continues to stay at the forefront of equestrian sport by offering a range of classes for every level of horse and rider, from Leadline to Grand Prix.  With over 450 classes offered each week, HITS promotes one of the most marvelous aspects of show jumping – where a child at his or her very first show may be seen at the competition ring standing next to an Olympic athlete.

This may be never truer than what this year’s circuit will see, where myriad upgrades and unique offerings at HITS Post Time Farm have attracted top riders from around the world.  These riders include half a dozen Olympic athletes and represent at least a dozen countries.  The richest purse in show jumping, the seventh annual Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, will be the ultimate showcase for these riders to cap off the circuit on March 22.

HITS Post Time Farm is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 8 am to 4 pm, from January 15 to March 22. Admission is free every day except Sunday, which is $10 per adult admission ticket for the Grand Prix. HITS Season Passes are also available for $20 and grant access to all ten Sunday Grand Prix. Children 12 and under are free and parking is free. Snack Bar and grandstand seating available. For more information, tickets, and Day VIP opportunities for the Great American Million, please contact the show office at 352.620.2275 or visit HITSShows.com.