Category Archives: HITS

Horseshows In The Sun

Brooke Kemper and Sara Taylor Capture Featured Class Wins at Culpeper Finals

Brooke Kemper and CLASSIFIED. ESI Photography.

The HITS Culpeper Summer Series at HITS Commonwealth Park has come and gone for 2018. It was a beautiful week to close out the season in the Heart of Virginia’s Horse Country with great weather, blue ribbons and the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Champion awards claimed at the Culpeper Finals.

The featured classes in the Grand Prix Ring kicked off with the $5,000 Open Welcome where Tracy Magness would start her week with a win aboard INTENZ VAN HD. Magness and “Candy” crossed the timers in 35.043, over a full second faster than the second place recipient.

Magness’ victory put an exclamation mark on her season at HITS Culpeper, marking her eighth blue ribbon in a featured Open Jumper class, and securing the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Championship in the Open 1.40m Jumpers. Jumping to second place would be Jennifer Brennan aboard MAC, finishing in a four-fault time of 34.024. Third place would be awarded to Cian McDermott, taking the reins aboard NEWCASTLE in a four-fault time of 35.565. Danny Mahon would take home the fourth place award aboard CHOPPER 5, followed by Randy Johnson in fifth aboard his own CAMPARO.

A field of 21 would take to the course Friday afternoon in the $10,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Prix. Top honors would be awarded to Marylisa Leffler aboard LUMINOUS, soaring to the finish in 31.147. Second place would be awarded to Magness and INTENZ VAN HD in a time of 31.276, followed by Johnson and JADE VAN DE START with a time of 32.872 to claim the yellow ribbon. Jason Berry would capture the fourth place ribbon aboard QUANTOS in a time of 33.598. Rounding out the top five in the Prix would be Tamara Morse and RAVENNA ADELHEID Z in a time of 34.135.

Top honors in the $2,000 Marshall & Sterling Children’s and Adult Jumper Classic was Wendy Libert and PAPILLION PEANUT.

Bari Michelle Friedman and CAPITOL II would take home top honors in the $2,500 Pyranha Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur 1.20m Jumper Classic.

Taking home top honors in the $5,000 Summit Joint Performance Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur 1.30m Jumper Classic was Ginny Gale and EVENSONG. Gale and EVENSONG also captured the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Championship in the Jr/A-O/Am 1.30m.

Tamara Morse and RAVENNA ADELHEID Z would soar to a blue ribbon finish in the $7,500 Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur 1.40m Jumper Classic. This dynamic duo would also take home the Horseware Ireland Reserve Grand Championship in the Jr/A-O/Am 1.30m Jumpers and Champion in the Jr/A-O/Am 1.40m Jumpers.

The excitement of the featured jumper classes at the HITS Culpeper Finals would continue on Sunday with the $20,000 HITS Open Prix. Taking home top honors, by over a full four seconds, would be Brooke Kemper and CLASSIFIED. Soaring through the timers in a fault-free time of 34.442 would secure the win in the final Open Prix of the HITS Culpeper Summer Series. Riding home with the second place ribbon would be Ashley Foster and DALIANTE M in a time of 39.612. Marylisa Leffler and LUMINOUS would take home the third place ribbon for their jump-off rider, finishing with a four-fault time of 38.340. Taking home the fourth place ribbon would be Magness and INTENZ VAN HD, followed by Laura Gaither and GARDA in fifth.

In the Hunter Rings, riders competed for blue ribbons and points toward the Hunter Prix Finals at the 2019 HITS Championships, in Saugerties, New York. The Devoucoux serves as the qualifying class for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Finals and similarly the Platinum Performance serves as the qualifying class for the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Finals.

First up in the Main Hunter Ring on Saturday afternoon were those competing in the Devoucoux Hunter Prix. Taking home the blue ribbon and lion’s share of the $1,500 purse was Sara Taylor aboard CARLOTTA. Taylor rode to scores of 88 and 86 for a total of 174 between her two rounds. Riding to second place was Megan Bennett aboard MARGO with scores of 82 and 83 for a two round total of 165. Taking home the third place ribbon was Katie McAfee for her ride aboard CAPPUCCINO with scores of 68 and 70 for a two round total of 138.

Junior and Amateur riders took the stage next for the $1,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Taking home top honors would be Carley Gray aboard her own UNIQUE CAR. Chelsea Director and her own URBAN would follow to be awarded the second place ribbon.

The Constitution Classic also featured the Culpeper Equitation Classic where Junior and Amateur riders have the option to compete at either the 3′ or 3’6″ fence height.

Taking home top honors was Madison Smyth whose trip was described by the judge as “smooth as silk.” As first to go in the class, she put the pressure on the following riders. In second place was Jacqui Needle, followed by Lauren Miller to take home third place.

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Final Week Wraps Up at HITS Ocala for 2018

Photo: David Raposa and Iliona.

“It’s not goodbye; it’s see you soon!” is what many people were saying this week during the Ocala Championship, as the final week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit came to a close. Week X proved to be one of the most exciting weeks yet, with high stakes classes for both hunters and jumpers, including the fifth annual Great American $1 Million Grand Prix.

The week kicked off with the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome and a victory by Michael Hutchinson and RONALDO DE LA POMME with a jump-off time of 35.850. In second was Taylor Land and FALCO V with a jump-off time of 37.973. Devin Ryan came in third aboard FLORIDA with a jump-off time of 38.342. Fourth place was Rachel Schnurr and PRINCE GARBO with a jump-off time of 38.528, while Tracy Magness rounded out the top five aboard INTENZ VAN HD with a jump-off time of 39.045.

On Thursday, the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix took place once again. This week, David Raposa took the top spot aboard ILIONA with a jump-off time of 40.620. Newcomer to the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium, Jamie Barge, took second aboard LUEBBO with a jump-off time of 41.498. Sharn Wordley was third with CASPER in a jump-off time of 41.530 and three time $1 Million Grand Prix winner, Andre Thieme, was fourth aboard ARETINO 13 with a jump-off time of 41.936. Week VII $50,000 HITS Grand Prix winner, Callan Solem, took fifth aboard DAVIDSON with a jump-off time of 42.887.

Friday afternoon, the $10,000 Open Prix took place, with $265,000 Longines Grand Prix winner (Week V), Rowan Willis, taking the win aboard SHARK with a jump-off time of 31.672. In second was Wordley aboard RYE VAL DE MAI with a jump-off time of 32.611, while Lisa Goldman was third aboard her well-known mount CENTURION B with a jump-off time of 34.859. Emanuel Andrade continued to impress, taking fourth aboard JOLI JUMPER with a jump-off time of 34.993 and fifth was Lillie Keenan and CHACCOLETTE with a jump-off time of 35.748.

Friday evening, the HITS Equitation Championships took place, giving young riders a chance to shine in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. Madeline Schaefer was awarded first place aboard CORRENDO with a two-round score of 178. Brian Moggre was second aboard MTM GEM with a two-round score of 174. Only one point behind was Sophee Steckbeck and CURT Z with a two-round score of 173. Fourth was awarded to C. Blair Spencer aboard WASSINI with a two-round score of 169. Rounding out the top five was Danny Mahon and CHOPPER 5 with a two-round score of 161.5.

Saturday was an exciting day, with several jumper classics taking place, as well as the $25,000 USHJA International Derby. Starting the day off was the $10,000 KindredBio 1.30m Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur Jumper Classic. Kady Abrahamson took first place aboard BASCO H2 with a jump-off time of 35.372. Moggre was second aboard TOUR EIFFEL with a jump-off time of 36.431. In third was Quinn Larimer and LIMBOY VON WORRENBERG with a jump-off time of 37.020 and Nicole Loochtan was fourth aboard CAIMAN DES SEQUOIAS with a jump-off time of 43.423. Fifth was Darby Toben aboard D’ARTAGNAN with a jump-off time of 45.920.

In the $10,000 1.35 Classic, Hutchinson again took the win aboard RONALDO DE LA POMME with a jump-off time of 41.835. Second was Jennifer Ann Smith and LAISSEZ FAIRE 3E with a jump-off time of 46.715. Wordley, took another top five placing aboard RYE VAL DE MAI, placing third with a four-fault jump-off time of 40.853. Fourth was Ryan aboard FLORIDA with a four-fault jump-off time of 41.209 and Jennifer Brennan was fifth aboard MAC with a four-fault jump-off time of 42.724.

In the $25,000 U-Dump Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, Callie Smith and Tamara Morse battled it out in the jump-off as the only two clears from the first round. Smith came out on top with one time-fault in the jump-off in 48.575 aboard FLOYD W. Tamara Morse was second aboard RAVENNA ALDEHEID Z with a rail and one time fault in a time of 48.623. Third was Nicole Belissimo and HARLEY DAVID as the fastest of the four-faulters in round-one with a time of 70.268. Just a second behind her was Kady Abrahamson and CHARLINE 28 with a four-fault score in 71.358 and Bryn Sadler was fifth aboard CEZARRO with a four-fault time of 74.420.

Kate Taylor and CHACCA BLUE took the win in the $25,000 Marshall & Sterling Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic with a jump-off time of 31.257. Grace Debney was second aboard BYOLGA with a jump-off time of 31.736. In third was Alyson Gurney and BLACK FRIDAY with a jump-off time of 33.550 and Sherri Jamison took fourth place with MAY’S NEWS in a jump-off time of 34.364. Fifth was Joy Slater aboard OILEAN UNO with a jump-off time of 34.648.

Saturday evening, the second $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby of the circuit took place in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. Holly Shepherd was awarded first place after two beautiful rounds and a total score of 370. Shepherd rode her gelding KODACHROME, securing first place and $7,500 in prize money after masterfully maneuvering through both rounds. Samantha Schaefer was second aboard IN THE KNOW with a two-round score of 364. Third place was Hunt Tosh and FLAMINGO-K with a two score of 362.75. ATTENTION PLEASE and David Jennings were fourth with a two-round score of 355.5. Cassandra Kahle rounded out the top five aboard DIADORA with a two-round score of 354.5.

On Sunday, the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Champions and Tack Warehouse Second-Half Circuit Champions made their way into the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium for the Parade of Champions and recognition of their season-long achievements. Several Special awards were also presented, including the following:

Kindred Bio Leading Rider: Brian Moggre
Laura Pickett Grand Junior Hunter Champion: Rockette, Kaitlyn Williams
Farm Credit Tackroom Award: Sapphire Riding Academy, trainer Doug Boyd
Absorbine Groom’s Award: Robert Buniowski, groom for Grand Prix Rider Rowan Willis of Australia

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Junior and Children’s Nation Cup Is a Success

Photo: Claudia Villamil aboard QUITE CLOSE VD SMIS.

For the first time, HITS Post Time Farm hosted a Nations Cup style event for both Junior and Children’s riders.  Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, and the USA were represented and classes for each were held throughout the week with the Nations Cup style event on Saturday. These talented young riders made the competition exciting to watch for both their fellow competitors and spectators.

Thursday marked the start of the Junior and Children’s Classes. In the $1,000 Welcome Classic-Junior, Claudia Villamil, riding for Puerto Rico, took home the first place award aboard QUITE CLOSE VD SMIS with a jump-off time of 30.90. In second place, Faith Davis (USA) followed with DA VINCI and a jump-off time of 38.09.  Third place went to Nicole Meyer Robredo (Mexico) aboard CHANEL with a four-fault first-round time of 64.16.

The Welcome Classic – Children’s also took place on Thursday.  Daniel Kerins, representing Ireland, came in first aboard ELWOOD with a jump-off time of 30.80. Less than one half of a second behind him was Natalie Pedley (Puerto Rico) and TRUE BLUE MATE, taking home the second place award. In third place was Francis Derwin (Ireland) and STAND BY ME with a jump-off time of 31.81, just one second behind Pedley.

On Friday, the day began in Ocala Horse Properties Stadium with the $5,000 City of Ocala Grand Prix – Junior. Carolina Villanueva Suarez (Mexico) rode to the first place finish aboard ZABEL D with no jumping faults and just two time faults in 90.60. Second place was awarded to Villamil and QUITE CLOSE VD SMIS with a four-fault score in a time of 77.04. Davis and DA VINCI came in third place with a four-fault round-one time of 81.63.

Following the Junior class was the City of Ocala Grand Prix – Children’s. Once again, Kerins came out on top, taking the first place award aboard ELWOOD with a jump-off time of 32.56. Rhys Williams (Ireland) and MALBAY DREAMER were awarded second place with a jump-off time of 34.15. Just behind him, third place went to Pedley aboard TRUE BLUE MATE with a jump-off time of 34.40.

Excitement was at an all time high on Saturday morning, as riders prepared for the Nations Cup style class, which would consist of two rounds and a possible jump-off.

The $5,000 FEI International Invitational Team Competition – Junior had two teams: the Aztecs, consisting of four riders representing Mexico and Chef D’Equipe Stanny van Paesschen, and the Stars and Stripes, which consisted of three riders, two American, and one Puerto Rican, and Chef D’Equipe Diann Langer. In round one, two riders from each team went clear, leaving the Aztecs with four faults and the Stars and Stripes with twelve faults. In round two, both Luciana Gonzalez Guerra aboard CHARLOTTA and Carlos Rodolfo Molina Gordilla aboard TREBON DE LA NUTRIA went clear for the Aztecs, which led them to a Gold Medal finish with a two-round total of eight faults. The Stars and Stripes were awarded the Silver Medal with a two-round score of twenty-eight faults.

The FEI International Invitational Team Competition – Children’s included three teams. The Americas, a team of three, consisted of two American riders, one Puerto Rican rider, and their Chef D’Equipe Diann Langer. Eire consisted of four Irish riders and Chef D’Equipe Michael Blake. The Stars and Stripes Children’s consisted of four American riders and Chef D’Equipe Diann Langer. The course was a challenge for some, but after round one, seven riders had jumped clear rounds, putting Team Americas in the lead.

In round two, all but three riders went clear, creating a three-way tie and jump-off. Natalie Pedley and TRUE BLUE MATE had an incredible jump-off time of 37.88, which gave Americas the Gold Medal. Eire was awarded the Silver Medal with Francis Derwin’s jump-off time of 39.14. Ansgar Holtgers Jr. earned an eight-fault jump-off time of 51.68, earning Team Stars and Stripes Children’s the Bronze Medal.

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HITS Culpeper Opening Day

Tracy Magness & IBENZ VAN HD | ESI Photography.

HITS Culpeper Showday National at Commonwealth Park, Virginia opened on Wednesday, July 5th to kick off two consecutive weeks of Horse Shows.

The venue greeted exhibitors with refreshed footing in the showing rings and schooling areas, and altogether revitalized grounds to compliment the experience that is unique to competing in the heart of Virginia Horse Country.

Showday National has drawn Exhibitors from afar such as Britt McCormick, head trainer at Elmstead Farm in Plano, Texas, who hadn’t been to Culpeper in several years. He noted, “The place looks great. The footing and rings are good, and everything is super.” McCormick has successfully trained horses for over 25 years, and he is a USEF licensed R judge, and USEF licensed R course designer.

The opening day Jumper ring highlight, the $5,000 1.40m Open Welcome, featured an inviting course designed by Sergio Lopez from Colombia, South America. Tracy Magness, the head trainer/rider at Lake View Farm in Hughesville, Maryland, collected the top honors atop IBENZ VAN HD. The pair was one of only two double clear rounds. Magness said that some of the lines posed tricky and technical questions, but not unfair. “I thought it was a good course, and the footing was nice.”

IBENZ VAN HD, also known as CANDY around the barn, is a nine-year-old mare owned by Mr. & Mrs. John Bartko.  Magness said she imported the mare in August of last year from Belgium. “I think it takes a year to really get to know a horse totally, but we kind of hit it off right away,” remarked Magness. “I’ve just been learning her, and what works best for her, but she is quite consistent and we’ve had some pretty good placings.” New York-based Debbie McCarthy Connor placed second on ZIM.

Since turning professional in 2001, Magness has won over 30 Grand Prix classes, represented the United States in Europe, and won over $600,000 in Grand Prix earnings alone. She is a 3-time leading Grand Prix Rider in HITS Ocala, and in 2009 she was the leading rider of the United States Grand Prix League.

Patty Foster and her sister Mary Lisa Leffler, of Rolling Acres Show Stables in Brookeville, Maryland, dominated the Green and Performance Hunter Divisions collecting wins with CLASSIC, CHARMING, INCOGNITO, and WHISPER WIND. But even more meaningful than blue ribbons, Foster was delighted to have her sister “back in the ring”. On March 1st, Leffler had broken her leg so badly that it placed her future riding ability in jeopardy. Foster noted, “The doctors put a rod in, and they said it’s amazing how good she looks.”

On Tuesday, Ken Krome arrived in Culpeper where rainstorms had soaked the grounds. “I saw the drain tiles flowing at the edge of the rings and everything looked great,” he noted. After he settled in, all of his horses were schooled in the new footing which deterred the water so well. “The horses were confident jumping, and they’ve all done well for us — everything has been made more comfortable for the horses.”

EGO, ridden by Krome for owner Chelsea Director, earned the tri-color Reserve Championship in the Green Hunter 3’ Division on Opening Day. Krome is quite fond of Ego. “He’s just a cool horse, who is very attentive and really loves what he does. He wants to do everything right,” praised Krome. “Ego is a special horse, and I just really appreciate a horse that wants to do what you want to do and he’s great to work with. He’s fun.”

Krome is the head Trainer/Rider at K2 Show Stables in Brookeville, Maryland. He is credentialed as an FEI-3 rated Course Designer and a USEF “R” rated Judge and Course Designer.

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HITS Ocala Winter Circuit Week X Round-Up

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Hunter Holloway and Any Given Sunday.

Ocala, FL (March 30, 2017): The Ocala Winter Circuit came to a close last week in Week X at HITS Post Time Farm. The Ocala Winter Circuit will return next year in 2018 with the same schedule. Great American Insurance Group will again sponsor the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix for what will be the fifth consecutive year.

Hunter Holloway Captures Win in $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in Ocala

The final week of the 2017 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit drew to an end last weekend as an eager crowd gathered to witness 28 riders and their elegant mounts compete for one of the most prestigious hunter victories, the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.

Last week’s hunter event marked the second USHJA Hunter Derby at HITS Ocala this winter season. It was a big class that carries very prestigious honor, and the top placings were stacked with young, talented equestrians.

The top contenders were all competitive and accomplished jumper riders in the junior/amateur-owner divisions as well as several Grand Prix winners – but this day was all about the hunters, and these stellar performances did not disappoint the crowd.

Hunter Holloway of Topeka, Kansas walked away with the blue-ribbon victory aboard Any Given Sunday, owned by Hays Investment Corp. In the Week IV Hunter Derby, Holloway and Any Given Sunday received the second place prize, but this time, they were picked to sit at the top of the leaderboard.

Second place went to Personalized, owned by Further Lane Farm, and ridden by Brian Moggre. Moggre has shown tremendous success in the jumper ring, including a huge win in last year’s $250,000 Black Barn Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Final at the HITS Championship in Saugerties.

Moggre and his beautiful mount stepped up to the plate in Saturday’s derby to walk away with the red ribbon.

Cassandra Kahle, also a seasoned Grand Prix rider, took home third place piloting Baranus, owned by Redfield Farm. Kahle has won several Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS’ Shows and a tremendous amount of ribbons at HITS. The Canadian equestrian also took home fifth place in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final last September in Saugerties.

Tracy Fenney rode MTM Outbid, owned by MTM Farm, to the fourth place spot. Fenney is also a winner of many Grand Prix at HITS Ocala and, like Kahle, took home a ribbon in the top five in the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix last year with third place. Fifth place in last week’s Derby went to Cassius, ridden by Caitlyn Shiels and owned by Don Stewart.

The enchanting stage was set for the field of top-caliber contenders with a lovely course designed by Tim Hott of Cumming, Iowa.

Unique to the derby format, in addition to the base score, two judging panels awarded an Option Bonus Score consisting of one additional point for every higher height option fence jumped. As 12 returned for the second round, judges awarded a Base Score, Option Bonus Score and a Handy Bonus Score, assessing the handiness of the round.

The top twelve returned for the second round of the two-round derby.  Holloway and Any Given Sunday entered the second round sitting in third place. They opted for two height options, and earned a total that moved them ahead in the pack for the eventual win thanks to their total of 19 handy bonus points. They earned a high second-round total score of 204, combined with a first-round total score of 175 for a very high overall score of 379.

Moggre and Personalized came into the second round sitting in fourth place tie with the eventual sixth place, Robert Lee and Intrepid. After a first-round score of 172, the pair made a major comeback, opting for two height options to step into second place with their second-round total of 194 for an overall score of 366.

Cassandra Kahle was behind in the pack with a first-round score of 160, they made a major comeback in the second round, opting for all four height options to garner a second-round score of 200, boosting their overall total to 360 for third place.

Fenney’s fourth place ride aboard MTM Outbid was second place coming into the second round after a first-round total of 179. Combined with their second-round score of 167, that gave them an overall total of 346.

Caitlyn Shiels and her fifth place mount, Cassius, earned a first round score of 165 combined with their second-round score of 166; they finished the class with an overall score of 331 for the final spot in the top five.

Adelaide Toensing Tops the Field in HITS Equitation Championship

The lights of the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium gleamed down on competitors for the return of the HITS Equitation Championship. Adelaide Toensing took home the evening’s top honors in Ocala, Florida.

After ten weeks of qualifying opportunities throughout the HITS Ocala Winter Show Circuit, thirty-two juniors took their chance at the technical course, set at 3’6”, designed by Tim Hott of Cumming, Iowa.  Competitors were judged by two sets of officials who evaluated their abilities as emerging horsemen and women. The course tested not only their competence in the ring, but also their efforts in the schooling area, as all riders turned in their cell phones and left their trainers in the stands.

A warm-up judge was solely assigned to evaluate how efficiently the riders utilized their time in the warm-up ring and their effectiveness in schooling their horses. Riders banded together as they walked the courses, warmed up and competed all on their own, forming a sense of camaraderie among opponents.

© ESI Photography. Adelaide Toensing

The course included gymnastics, trot fences, oxers, verticals and combinations in the first round, with the second round displaying a more technical, jumper-style course, including an open water element as an option fence.

As the top 12 returned to contend for the blue in the two-round championship, Toensing was feeling confident after sealing the second-highest score of the first round, an 84, to continue into the second round. Toensing earned an 85 in the second round, keeping their scores consistent throughout each challenge. The combined scores produced a winning total of 169.

Coming in behind Toensing for second place was Briley Koerner. She received a 78 in the first round, improving to an 88 in the second round, the highest of the second-round course, to produce a total of 166.

Third in the ribbons was Abigail Lefkowitz with a total score of 163.5 – comprised of her first-round score of 77.5 and improved second-round score of 86.

Todd Minikus Takes the Blue in $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix during Final Week at HITS Ocala

Competition continued during the final week of the Ocala Winter Circuit with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

The order of go was stacked with talent, including Florida equestrian Todd Minikus, who would eventually win the class, young star Lillie Keenan, who rode in the FEI Nations Cup™ Ocala for Team USA, and Irishman Cian O’Connor, who placed third in last weekend’s AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Coachella.

Thirty-three challengers turned out for their shot at the top prize, and nine went clear to advance to the jump-off course set by Werner Deeg of Germany.

Four jumped clear over the shortened course in a race for the win, where it all came down to speed and agility.

Minikus rode Valinski S, owned by Michael Dorman & Wyndmont, Inc., to the win, going sixth in the order in the jump-off. They stopped the clock in a cool, fault-free finish in 33.348, two seconds ahead of the eventual second placer.

Tracy Fenney, a force to be reckoned with in the Grand Prix at HITS Ocala, took home the red ribbon and second place prize aboard MTM Como No, owned by MTM Farm. They passed the timers in 35.637 for the ultimate second place spot on the leaderboard.

Venezuelan equestrian, Emanuel Andrade, is a speedy rider and has laid down numerous quick and competitive rounds in the Grand Prix. Andrade rode for Team Venezuela in the FEI Nations Cup™ Ocala and placed highly all weekend.

Andrade piloted Reus De La Nutria to a 35.983-second finish, just three-tenths of a second behind Fenney for the third place prize.

Fourth in the ribbons was Isabelle LaPierre of Canada and her own Cesha M. LaPierre and Cesha M have been consistent contenders in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Ocala this season, including a win in the Week IV $50,000 HITS Grand Prix. Their clean time of 37.073 earned them their spot in the top five when the class was finished.

Rounding out the top five was Lillie Keenan riding Be Gentle, owned by Chansonette Farm, LLC. They powered through the course but an unfortunate rail would give them four faults as they crossed the finish. Their quick time of 35.365, however, would settle them with the fifth place prize.

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Lauren Hough and Ohlala Are Victorious in Great American $1 Million Grand Prix

(C) ESI Photography. Lauren Hough and Ohlala.

Ocala, FL (March 27, 2017): Spectators filed into the grandstand at HITS Post Time Farm to witness a world-class line-up of national and international riders battle for the blue in the fourth annual Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, sponsored by Great American Insurance Group. Just one week after the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal, California, the richest prize purse in show jumping returned to the Horse Capital of the World in Ocala, Florida.

With a bustling grandstand, thousands watching from a live webcast on HITS TV, two sold out VIP tents, and the grass berm surrounding the stadium filled to capacity, it was a day packed with family-friendly fun and world-class show jumping competition.

The final lineup was stacked with previous HITS $1 Million Grand Prix winners, but the team to beat was USA equestrian Lauren Hough and Ohlala, owned by The Ohlala Group. Hough returned to HITS Ocala after competing for Team USA at the FEI Nations Cup™ earlier in February. Hough also placed fourth in the Great American Million in 2015 and 2016. They topped the leaderboard, and 49 other show jumping stars, to take home the day’s top honor by less than a one-second margin over second place finisher Aaron Vale and Finou 4, owned by Thinkslikeahorse and Don Stewart.

“I was lucky enough to come back to Ocala after the Nations Cup, and I was so impressed with how the footing was,” said Hough. “My horse is happier here, and so I really made coming back a priority in my schedule.”

Coming back to HITS Ocala certainly paid off for the decorated equestrian of Wellington, Florida. Hough’s round held up over the 14-horse jump-off, going seventh in the order, right in the middle of the pack. Vale was not far behind, finishing less than one-second behind Hough for second place.

“Everything I did with my horse this winter was aimed at this class,” said Vale. “This second place finish is worth more money than any win I’ve ever had, so I’d say it was a pretty good day!”

Third place went to Germany’s Andre Thieme, winner of the inaugural 2014 edition of the Great American Million.

“This Million dollar class is a very good thing that HITS does for our sport,” said Thieme.  Thieme also won the 2011 Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix.

Thieme rode Conthendrix to the third-place prize in just one second behind Vale for the yellow ribbon and his slice of the million dollar pie.

Forty-nine riders, including World Cup champions, Olympic Gold Medalists and Grand Prix stars tested a course of 17 fences set at up to 1.60 meters. The meticulously decorated course, designed by Werner Deeg of Germany would yield 14 clear rounds ensuring a competitive jump-off.

“Here in Ocala we have the best footing, and it’s amazing how well the horses jump here,” said Deeg. “We had some top riders here, like the ones sitting next to me [at the press conference]. We also had some less-experienced riders at this level, so I built this course being aware of everybody.”

First of the top five to challenge the shortened course was Great Britain equestrian, Ben Maher, piloting Don Vito, owned by Poden Farms. They set down a fault-free trip in 50.874, which would ultimately slide them into fourth place.

American rider, McLain Ward, was next to try his luck in the jump-off riding HH Callus, owned by Double H Farm. Ward, a two-time HITS Million Grand Prix winner, competed alongside Hough in the FEI Nations Cup™ Ocala earlier this season, and both were a part of the winning Team USA at Nations Cup Ocala last year.

Ward steered his mount through the course with precision and skill. To the sound of cheers from the crowd, they crossed the timers clear in 51.379, eventually settling them in the final spot of the top five for the fifth-place prize.

Hough and Ohlala followed Ward. They took to the course at an all-out gallop, zipping through the turns.  The excitement from the crowd grew throughout the round and cheers erupted as they crossed the timers in a blazing fast 48.966, setting the Great American Time to Beat and topping the rankings, where they would remain for the eventual win, an impressive feat going in the middle of the order of 14 challengers.

“I was not feeling very confident in actually winning the class, because there were seven more behind me [in the jump-off],” said Hough in the post-victory press conference. “I rode the fastest round that I could with [Ohlala], and tried to keep the pressure on the ones to follow – and of course, you always hope to have a bit of luck on your side at events like this. I had all of the above.”

Andre Thieme was next of the top five to complete his jump-off round. He and Conthendrix valiantly fought for speed towards the finish. As they crossed the timers in a cool, clear 50.086, they stepped up the leaderboard over Ward, but were not quite quick enough to overtake Hough.

“I watched Lauren’s round at the gate, and I knew her horse was very fast, and my horse is not so quick across the ground,” said Thieme. “He’s an amazing horse and partner, but I know him well enough that if the jump-off starts to get really quick, I will probably not win it. So with that in mind, I did everything that I could and am very happy with this result.”

(C) ESI Photography. Aaron Vale and Finou 4

When hometown hero, Aaron Vale, stepped into the ring with Finou 4, he had his eyes on the prize. He laid down a speedy ride through the jump-off course, galloping at every opportunity to shave time off the clock. The talented pair crossed the timers clean, but they were unable to catch Hough’s time as they finished in 49.442, good enough for the coveted, second-place payout.

“Following Lauren, I got to watch the first seven go, so I had an idea of what my horse could do,” said Vale of his jump-off round. “I was hoping to get one less stride from the first fence to the second, which I did, and I almost got exactly what I wanted the whole way, aside from one extra stride in the middle. I felt like I made up for it in the turn to the last line, and leaving out a stride to the last jump. I got the best round that I think I could have, it just wasn’t quite good enough today.”

Several big contenders followed in the jump-off including Todd Minikus, winner of the 2014 Saugerties Million riding Valinski S, owned by Michael Dorman and Wyndmont, Inc.  Although he had the fastest time in the jump-off, 46.660, a rail and four faults earned him in sixth.

Last to go in the jump-off was last weekend’s AIG $1 Million Grand Prix winner, Mandy Porter and Milano, owned by Abigail Weese.  As she started the course, it looked like she might be the first back-to-back Million Grand Prix winner, and she carried a clean round all the way to the last fence getting the crowd to their feet to cheer. The stadium let out a collective sigh as the last rail came down for four faults, giving Porter the purple ribbon for seventh.

It was unanimous amongst the top finishers that the prize purses offered by HITS are remarkable and HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri gave full credit to the event’s title sponsor.

“We’re fortunate to have one of the best sponsors in the world, Great American [Insurance Group], and lucky to have them again for the fourth consecutive year,” said Struzzieri. “The fact that we can host two $1 Million classes back to back, for several years in a row, speaks volumes as to what HITS does, and that caliber of competition will certainly carry into the future.”

As ten weeks of show jumping competition at HITS Ocala came to a close with a $1 Million Grand Prix to remember, riders are already looking ahead to the HITS Championship in Saugerties, New York later this year. Boasting the richest weekend in show jumping and with the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix returning as an FEI CSI-5* class, riders from around the globe await another opportunity for their chance at international bragging rights and the quintessential prize purse.

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David Beisel Wins First and Fourth in $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix at HITS Ocala

(C) ESI Photography. David Beisel and Ammeretto.

Ocala, FL (March 18, 2017): Week IX at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit continued on Thursday with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium at HITS Post Time Farm.

David Beisel has been quite successful in Grand Prix this season at HITS Ocala, including two wins so far $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, making this week’s victory his third of 2017. Beisel rode Ammeretto, owned by Equine Holdings LLC., to the win in a 12-horse jump-off, where seven would go clear in contingency for the blue.

Beisel would take hold of lead going eighth in the order over the shortened course designed by Anderson Lima of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Beisel also garnered the fourth place ribbon with Call Me Hannes, owned by Harlow investment Enterprises, LLC.

First to claim a clear round in the jump-off was Emanuel Andrade riding Bon Jovi. They clocked in with a fault-free 35.898-second round right out of the gate, and their round would eventually settle them in third place. Andrade would also claim second place in the class aboard Reus De La Nutria with a thrilling ride as the second-to-last in the order.

The next clear round came third in the order with Hyde Moffatt of Canada and Granturo, owned by Western Sales & Development. They valiantly chased Andrade’s temporary lead, stopping the clock in 39.892, which would ultimately settle them into fifth place.

A few rounds would pass before another fault-free trip was delivered by Kelley Robinson, also of Canada, entered with Blue’s Yer Daddy seventh in the order. They snagged a clear round, but their time of 40.349 could not edge out the rest of the pack, putting them in seventh.

Following Robinson were the victors David Beisel and Ammeretto. They stormed through the course, taking each fence with force. The crowd cheered as they passed the timers in a cool, clear 34.755, a full second ahead of the leading time, where the lead would remain.

Melissa Rudershausen followed with Charmeur Ask for another clear round, and their time of 40.239 put them ahead of Robinson for the ultimate sixth place position.

There were only two left in the starting order, but only one chance to take the win away from Beisel, as he had one more horse left to show.

It was all down to the battle of the quickest between Andrade and Beisel. Andrade went first with his second mount of the jump-off, Reus De La Nutria. They came in hot, stopping the clock in 35.607 to step into second place.

The win was Beisel’s, but he still had one more ride. He followed with Call Me Hannes, putting in a clear round, but their time of 37.213 was not enough to overtake Andrade’s second and third place trips, settling them into fourth place for the white ribbon.

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Aaron Vale Flies to the Win in the $41,200 HITS Jumper Classic

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Aaron Vale and Quality on Top.

Ocala, FL (February 19, 2017): The CSIO4* Week continued at HITS Post Time Farm on Saturday with the $41,200 HITS Jumper Classic. Riders from several countries, including USA, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, El Salvador, Colombia and the recent winners of the $100,000 FEI Nations Cup™, Ireland, took their turn over the course set by Marina Azevedo of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The rider to beat would be hometown hero, Aaron Vale riding Quality on Top, owned by North Face Farm. They would indeed finish on top by an impressive three seconds. Third place rider from Venezuela, Pablo Barrios, made Vale work for it though, entering immediately before Vale in the jump-off order, setting down a time Vale had to chase.

“My horses have jumped great all circuit; I just haven’t had luck on my side. Today, it was,” said Vale. “This was this horse’s first ribbon in an FEI class, and for it to be a blue one is pretty special.”

The course was winding and included two roll-back turns and two exciting galloping points that riders could hustle across the ring to shave the seconds off of the clock.

First to return to the shortened course was McLain Ward riding Quinta, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare he co-owns with Francois Mathy. They laid down a clear round right out of the gate, clocking in at 42.48 to set the tone for the class. The trip would ultimately settle them in sixth place, with the remaining contenders, aside from Vale, all finishing within a few fractions of a second of each other.

Pablo Barrios grabbed the next clear round of the eventual top five placings, going fourth in the jump-off order aboard Zara Leandra, owned by ZL Group, Inc. Cheers rang out from the Venezuelan team supporters as they watched them laid down a cool, clear round in 41.17.  They’d ultimately take home the third-place prize.

Vale followed next, taking care to ensure the lead did not stay in Barrios’ hands for long. Vale and Quality on Top powered through the course, flying across the arena from the fifth fence on course to the combination, which required riders to gallop to the opposite end of the ring then change direction.

“I got to watch McLain go, and I thought he was quite fast so I knew I had to be especially quick,” said Vale. “There were a couple of spots early in the course where I could have been faster, but I wanted to be careful too.”

The crowd gasped as they zoomed toward the finish, the lead imminent by their quick speed. They passed the timers in 38.43, a time no other could catch.

“We had a rub in the combination and I actually thought we had had a rail down.  I looked up at the scoreboard a couple of times waiting for the 4 [faults] to come up, but it didn’t – so then I just went as fast as I could to the last few jumps.  My horse is fairly quick-footed, so that really paid off.

Emanuel Andrade and Mattias Tromp both put in valiant efforts to catch Vale. Andrade, another speedy Venezuelan rider, powered home to a fault-free 41.33-second ride for the eventual fourth place, riding his bay gelding, U.

Tromp, entered behind Andrade in the order piloting Avon, owned by Swede Ventures, LLC. They put the pedal to the metal in the course, trying with all of their might to catch Vale’s leading time. Their finish in 40.33 would settle them in second place.

Ali Wolff would round out the top five riding Quirie, co-owned with John Wolff. They put in a clear round in 41.90 for fifth place.

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Isabelle Lapierre and Cesha M Win $50,000 HITS Grand Prix

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Isabelle Lapierre and Cesha M.

Ocala, FL (February 14, 2017): Week IV at HITS Post Time Farm included plenty of excitement and riders and horses of all ages, levels and states gathered to compete. The week culminated with the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix on Sunday.

$50,000 HITS Grand Prix

Canadian equestrian Isabelle Lapierre took home the blue-ribbon title in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix in Ocala riding her own mare, Cesha M. Interestingly, Lapierre and Cesha M took home the exact same title last year during Week IV of the Ocala Winter Circuit – first place in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix.

Lapierre and Cesha M returned to stake claim to their title in a lightning-fast jump-off round, where they took the top spot on the leaderboard with a three-second lead. The pair was third in the order of the nine-horse jump-off, and their fault-free time of 40.763 held up through the rest of the field.

Many of the contenders in Sunday’s Grand Prix have been competing against each other for the entirety of the Ocala Winter Circuit, and the order of go was stacked with talent – it was a class of veteran Grand Prix riders no doubt, with some fresh faces in the top 12 as well.

Scott Keach was the seventh in the order to challenge the abbreviated course piloting Chicco W, owned by Edith Rameika. The Australian equestrian and his mount sped through the course, stopping the clock in 43.065 for the eventual second-place finish.

The last contestant in the jump-off was Kim Farlinger aboard Caprice Van De Brouwershoeve, owned by Kim Farlinger Stables, Ltd. They chased Lapierre’s leading time and zoomed through the course, taking each fence by storm and leaving the rails up. They finished in 43.074, only one-hundredth of a second behind Keach’s round, settling them into third place.

Devin Ryan took home the fourth place prize with Cooper as the quickest four-fault jump-off round in 39.122. Rounding out the top five was Mattias Tromp piloting Avon, owned by Swede Ventures, LLC. They too would be foiled by a single rail to finish the course with four faults in 40.497.

Hayley Waters Wins the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

Local rider Hayley Waters took home both first and third place in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix during Week IV of the Ocala Winter Circuit, marking her second Grand Prix victory at HITS Ocala this season.

(C) ESI Photography. Hayley Waters and Dorella

The twenty-year-old equestrian took home the prestigious placings in contention for the win among a field of seasoned Grand Prix riders, including Aaron Vale, Tracy Fenney and many more. Not to squander Waters’ fire, the young talent has seen the victory circle in many Grand Prix at HITS Ocala and HITS Saugerties, including a blue-ribbon in the $250,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Classic at the HITS Championship in 2015.

Waters took home the first $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix win this year during Week I at HITS Ocala, and there seems to be no sign of slowing her down. Week IV’s victory came aboard Dorella, owned by Seth Vallhonrat. The third-place prize was with Qurint, owned by Chuck and Dana Waters.

In a four-horse jump-off, there were no clear rounds to be seen. Waters would have the only round with all of the rails intact with two time faults, clocking in with a time of 46.560.

Second-place Devin Ryan and Cooper were the quickest of the four-fault rides with a time of 37.718. Following Ryan in the placings was Waters’ and Qurint. They too would finish with only one rail in a time of 40.029.

Scott Keach was the final rider to place of the jump-off rounds, in fourth, with Chicco W, owned by Edith Rameika. Rounding out the top five was Lisa Goldman riding Sovereign, owned by Barbara Disko. They were the quickest of the four-faulters in the first round to secure fifth place.

$1,500 Platinum Performance

Junior and Amateur riders were able to show in the big Ocala Horse Properties Stadium at HITS Post Time Farm for the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix during Week IV of the Ocala Winter Circuit.

Holly French would be the rider to beat aboard Chestnut Hill, owned by Marissa Dolan. The two captured the highest scores in both rounds, a consistent 82 for a grand total of 164 and the winning title.

Second in the ribbons went to Leigh Gallagher riding Eternity, owned by Tibri, LLC. They were awarded a first-round score of 81, followed by an 80 in the second round to total 161.

MacKensie Bowles and Bittersweet Symphony were third among their peers, garnering an 80.5 in the first round, combined with their second-round score of 77 for a total of 157.5.

Fourth place went home with Annie Walsh and Erosmith. Walsh and Erosmith moved up the ranking from a fifth-place finish last week. They earned scores of 77 and 79, respectively, for a total of 156.

Rounding out the top five was Rachel Griffin and Jasmin De Bornival 2, owned by Nelson Pessoa. The pair was awarded a score of 77 in the first round and a score of 79 in the second round.

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Ocala Hunters Take It to the Top in Week III

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Hunt Tosh and Casanova.

Ocala, FL (February 8, 2017): Horses and riders descended on HITS Post Time Farm for a shot at winning the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix or the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. It was the third week of competition at HITS Ocala and riders were hungry to place atop the best of the best.

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

Hunt Tosh of Alpharetta, Georgia grabbed his second win in the Devoucoux Hunter Prix of the 2017 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Last week, Tosh won the class aboard Gotham, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, in addition to a third place prize with Wiser, owned by Ceil and Kenny Wheeler.

This week, Tosh claimed the victory with Casanova, another winning ride owned by Dr. Betsee Parker. They won the class with scores of 86 and 89 for a total of 175. Tosh would claim another ribbon with Wiser, this week in sixth place.

Second in the ribbons went to Amanda Steege of Bedminster, New Jersey riding Loxley, owned by Finale Partners, LLC. They were awarded a first-round score of 87 and a second-round score of 85 for a total of 172. Steege also took home fifth place with Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh.

Aiken, South Carolina equestrian Daniel Geitner brought home the third-place prize riding Sky Pilot, owned by Allison Wolfe Mills. The judges gave the pair scores of 84 and 85, respectively, for a total of 169.

Fourth place was Caitlyn Shiels of Hampshire, Illinois riding Cassius, owned by Don Stewart. They earned scores of 84 and to secure a total of 167.

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

A supremely talented crop of riders turned out to challenge the course and prove who the ultimate in hunter style was.

(C) ESI Photography. Melissa Marshall and Valiant

Melissa Marshall of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania won aboard her own mount, Valiant. The pair received eighth place in the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix during Week II and they jumped their way up the standings to claim the blue ribbon victory in Week III.

Marshall and Valiant took the lead in the first round with a score of 83; combined by a second-round score of 79, they brought the win home with a total of 162.

The second-place prize belonged to Lauren Lindner of Warren, New Jersey and Quantonius, owned by Nicole Peterson. They earned a 79 in the first round, improving to an 81 in the second round to total 160.

Williston, Florida equestrian Samantha Perlman piloted Willow Bay, owned by Ann Cohen Farm, to the fourth place ribbon. The earned a total of 159, combined by scores of 80 and 79, settling them just behind Lindner.

Fifth place belonged to Grafite, owned and ridden by Madison Pan-kita. Their scores of 80 and 77.5 earned them a total of 157.5 to round out the top five.

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