Category Archives: HITS

Horseshows In The Sun

Hunters Go Big in the Final Week of the Ocala Winter Circuit

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Aaron Vale and Dress Balou.

Ocala, FL (March 29, 2016): Riders vied for the top spot and a slice of the prize purse in the 2016 Ocala Winter Circuit’s last qualifying opportunities for the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix and the $250,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Finals at the HITS Championship in September in Saugerties, New York.

Aaron Vale and Dress Balou score another big win in the $25,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

Devoucoux has sponsored a Hunter Prix nearly every week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit and Week X’s Devoucoux Hunter Prix featured a $25,000 prize purse held in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida scored a trifecta by collecting first, second and third place finishes, adding to his already impressive resume. He earned the win on Don Stewart’s Dress Balou, a two time winner of the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final at HITS Saugerties, for which the Devoucoux Hunter Prix are qualifiers.

Thirty-nine competitors had the opportunity to compete over the first round course of twelve fences designed by Tim Hott from Cumming, Iowa.

“The course was a traditional hunter course in a big ring, where the jumps were spread out with some long bending lines, and just a few lines with related distances,” said Vale in regard to the course. “There was a lot of additional greenery, which was nice to impress the horses a bit this late in the circuit.”

The top twelve riders returned for a second round with scores ranging from 80.5 to 89 from their first rounds carrying over to their second.

Vale and Dress Balou, owned by Don Stewart, had the high score of 89 from the first round and returned as the final competitor in the second round. They improved upon their first round, scoring a 92 for a total of 181 for the win.

“Dress Balou is seven this year, and he has shown a few times this season,” said Vale of his winning horse. “He won the [$10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix in Week IV] and I don’t think we’ve shown him since then. He really suits these big arenas where he can just pick up a rhythm and he jumps really well.”

Vale also had the second highest score in round one aboard Madewell, owned by the Aberdeen Ventures. His score of 87 in the first round and 89 in the second round, combined for a total of 176 to take second place.

“My assistant showed Madewell last year in the pre-greens, and I took over the ride this season and have been doing him in the Hunter Prix,” said Vale.  “He has had a couple weeks where he was really good in the first round then had an unlucky rail or something in the second, so this is a really impressive ribbon to be just behind Dress Balou, the two time Finals winner.”

Vale garnered the third place prize with Spalding, owned by Don Stewart and Brooke Ventos.

“I’ve never sat on him before this class, Don just threw me up on him,” said Vale of Spalding. In a testament to Vale’s skill, his first round score with his new mount of 84.5 combined with a second round score of 86 gave him a total of 170.5 to take third place.

Harold Chopping from Southern Pines, North Carolina, riding Caramo, owned by Caroline Russell Howe, scored an 86 in round one, but Caramo uncharacteristically spooked in round 2 and his score of 81.5 dropped him to sixth place overall with a total score of 167.5.

Cassandre Kahle of Langley, British Columbia, riding Diario for Redfield Farm, improved upon her first round score of 82.5 with an 87 in the second round to move into fourth place overall with a 169.5.

Skyler Fields and Echo win the $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Skyler Fields of Wellesly, Massachusetts put in two consistent rounds with her horse Echo to win the $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix over courses designed by Manuel Esparza of Mexico. Twelve returned for the second round with scores ranging from 75 to 88, but the second round proved to be the deciding factor as placings shuffled based on second round scores.

(C) ESI Photography. Skyler Fields and Echo
(C) ESI Photography. Skyler Fields and Echo

Fields returned for the second round in the temporary fourth position with an 84.5, but her consistency in the second round earned her an 85.5 for an overall total of 170 for the win. Fields also qualified her second horse, earning seventh place with Cornet’s Finale with a two round total of 158.

“I left out a stride with my other horse in the second round so I wanted to be sure I didn’t do that with Echo. We are trying to qualify for the Finals in Saugerties and have been placing in the top three consistently, but today was the last week and I really wanted to win.”

Raegan Landrum from Winter Park, Florida, riding Contano, returned in fifth position with an 84, improving to an 85 in the second round to earn second place with an overall total of 169, just a point behind Fields.

Allison Joyce from Medway, Massachusetts, riding Chestnut Hill, owned by Marissa Dolan, came back in third place with an 85 and scored an 83 for in the second round to stay third overall with a 168 total score.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Ocala Week IX Sunday Jumper Round-Up

(C) ESI Photography. Brian Moggre and MTM Flutterby on their way to a $7,500 U-Dump Jr/A-O Jumper Classic win.

Ocala, FL (March 24, 2016): The countdown to the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Post Time Farm on March 27 is on, but there was plenty excitement, not to mention big money opportunities in store for jumper exhibitors during Week IX of the Ocala Winter Circuit.

$100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix

The crowds turned out to see a field of 43 exhibitors compete for $100,000 in prize money sponsored by Sullivan GMC Trucks at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala on Sunday. In the final Sunday Grand Prix before this weekend’s Great American Million, everyone brought their A-game as many riders had multiple rides to try to claim the victory.

HITS Ocala’s “hometown hero” Aaron Vale had four rides, Amanda Flint had two, and Hayley Waters had two. Kevin Babington, Michael Hughes and Kristen Van Der Veen also came to battle for the blue.

Mathew Williams from Wellington, Florida, riding Valinski S, owned by Michael Dorman and Wyndmont, Inc., scored their first Grand Prix victory together with a double clear round in 43.744.

“He’s been in the top five in his last eight Grand Prix; [Valinski S] jumps so well and tries so hard. He was third in the World Cup in Vegas and has had top ribbons, and he’s very consistent,” said Williams. “We are planning on competing in the Great American Million next week.

Williams was one of seven riders to jump clean first rounds over a 1.55 meter course of 16 efforts designed by Marina Azevedo of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Williams continued, “I love jumping Marina’s courses. It was tough enough and technical enough, with just the right amount of clears. It was just the right course for this amount of prize money.”

The jump-off course started with a line down the outside, which could be done in six or seven strides. It included two rollback turns and continued to a combination with a gallop to the last vertical in seven or eight strides.

First to return for the jump-off was Kristen Van Der Veen of St. Charles, Illinois on Bull Run’s Holy Smokes. They had two unfortunate rails, finishing in a time of 41.194 with eight faults to finish sixth.

Next to go was Aaron Vale from Williston, Florida riding Bonzini S, owned by Thinkslikeahorse. Generally considered tough to beat in the jump-off, he took to the course with speed and power, but a rail at 12A of the combination, and a heart-breaker at the last fence earned them eight faults as they clocked in at 40.099.  Faster than Van Der Veen, they eventually earned the fifth place prize.

Juan Manuel Gallego of Morriston, Florida, followed Vale riding his Goulash van De Broy Z. They jumped clear in a time of 44.922 to take the lead and set the Great American Time to Beat.

Brandy Holloway, another consistent performer this circuit with multiple ribbons to her credit, jumped next with Lucky Strike. The Topeka, Kansas native had a rail at 12A, and with a time of 42.059 she eventually finished fourth.

Bryn Sadler of Sante Fe, New Mexico and her veteran Bon Giorno followed with a clear round. They did seven strides up the first line and rode carefully to the finish fault-free in 46.401, putting them in temporary second.

Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania showed next on Mark Q. They went for the win, but after a rail mid-course, they would not recover, with two additional rails to finish seventh of 40.907.

Last but certainly not least to contest the shortened course was Williams and Valinski S. “This is the first time I haven’t gone first in the jump-off, so I actually had a plan. I planned the six up the first line and everything came up just the way I wanted it to,” said Williams. They crossed the timers clear in 43.744 to take over first place.

“I did one more across the middle, but I knew if I left the jumps up I would still be in front because I turned so tight to the last line. I’m so lucky to have a horse like that and to have two people that trust me and help me on the ground, Michael Dorman and Ronnie Beard.”

$7,500 U-Dump High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic

Brian Moggre aboard MTM Flutterby rode to a win in the $7,500 U Dump Junior/ Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.45m Classic for the third time this season at HITS Ocala. At only fourteen years of age, Moggre rides like a highly seasoned competitor, and paired with MTM Flutterby, he is a formidable opponent.

Sunday’s competitors tackled Marina Azevedo’s 16-effort course set at 1.45 meters. First to go in the jump-off was Olivia Dorey from Sudbury, Massachusetts riding Barsa. The shortened course consisted of two rollback turns, one to a Liverpool and one to a double combination. The course finished with a final oxer at either 7 or 8 strides out. Dorey had rails at both fences in the combination for a score of eight faults in a quick time of 40.183

Next up was Acanto 7 with Kate Mulligan from Frenchtown, New Jersey. The big bay had a rail down at fence three, then unexpectedly stopped at the final fence, unseating Mulligan, and putting them in third place.

Moggre from Flower Mound, Texas was the final rider to test the jump-off. “Obviously I wanted to go double clean but if I did have two rails I still wanted to be fast, so I cut inside to fence three so I could be quick and efficient,” he said. They flew past the timers in 40.218 for the win.

“My plan was to do seven in the final line, like the first rider, but I added the step because [MTM Flutterby] is more comfortable with it and she was more likely to jump it clean.”

Moggre plans to up the ante in the final week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit with Week X’s $25,000 Marshall and Sterling/Team Barber Child-Adult Jumper Classic.

“Next week I will do both of my horses in the $25,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner 1.45m Classic, and hopefully that will go just as well as today,” said Moggre.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

McLain Ward and Rothchild Take Home the Blue in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. McLain Ward and Rothchild.

Thermal, CA (March 22, 2016): Two-time Olympic gold medalist, McLain Ward, and Sagamore Farms’ Rothchild rose to challenge a top-notch field of thirty-three riders, including Ocala’s 2015 Great American Million winner Charlie Jayne, to claim a prestigious victory by going double-clear on a challenging course in the first Jewel in the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping, the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix. This is Ward’s third HITS Million Grand Prix win, the first with his long-time partner Sapphire in Saugerties in 2010 and the second 2 years later on Antares F.

The 2016 HITS Desert Circuit was in its final week of the season as an electric crowd descended upon HITS Desert Horse Park to witness the grand finale of the winter show circuit. A large spectator crowd filled the grandstand. Complete with a sold-out VIP club and thousands viewing a live United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Network webcast, featured on HITS TV, competitors did not disappoint their fans as the showdown for an AIG $1 Million Grand Prix win unfolded.

“I try to be fair to everyone, and a Grand Prix of this magnitude should have a sense of achievement,” said course designer Alan Wade of Ireland in regards to his 17-effort course built for both the seasoned competitor and Million newcomer. “The distances for the most part are straight forward but whether you jumped clear or had a rail, I want riders to walk away feeling like they learned something or their horse learned something.”

“The course shows what a genius Alan is; it was straightforward in some areas and tricky in others,” said Ward after winning the class. “I think all riders would agree that [HITS President and CEO] Tom Struzzieri, the HITS team and their sponsors put on a phenomenal production. HITS always has new and innovative jump material every year, it keeps the sport interesting and keeps the horses’ and spectators’ interest levels up – I love coming out here to show at HITS Thermal; it was a great crowd today.”

Faults were spread evenly throughout the first round with both a tight time allowed of 87 seconds and a few navigational tests on course. A combination near the in-gate ending with a wide oxer followed by a left turn that came up quick to another oxer provided many faults as well as the last jump, the tall AIG liverpool heading toward the in-gate. Only three in the talented field would go clear to advance to the jump-off.

Eric Navet, riding out of Panileuse, California, narrowly missed a ticket to the jump-off with one heart-breaking time fault, ultimately placing his 87.076-second round in fourth. Germany’s Andre Thieme, a two-time Million Grand Prix winner, also felt the pressure of the clock, coming in just behind Navet in 87.817 with one time fault for the eventual fifth place.

The stands were anxious as the three-horse jump-off got underway, with McLain Ward and Rothchild, Charlie Jayne and Chill RZ, and Jonathan McCrea and Aristoteles V all jumping clear to advance to the final battle for the blue.  As Ward, the eventual winner would say, the course “really proved just right,” with three making it to the jump-off.

First to return for the jump-off was 2015 Great American Million Grand Prix winner Charlie Jayne of Elgin, Illinois and the big-strided Chill RZ owned by Maura Thatcher and Alex Jayne. Jayne placed third in the 2015 AIG Million in Thermal, California, and with a 2015 Great American Million victory in Florida under his belt, he was looking to seal a Million win on the West coast. Jayne and Chill RZ soared through the course, jumping clear, but unable to leave out a stride in two of the option lines.  They put down a quick, fault-free round in 39.829 to set the tone.

“I’ve been in the up position a few times before and I knew I needed to be quick with McLain following me; he’s a fast rider and has a faster horse,” said Jayne of his jump-off strategy. “Things didn’t go exactly according to plan; I was planning six strides from jump two to three, but I caught the angle and had a bit of a shift. I just had to put the pressure on being fast.”

Next in the order was Ward and Rothchild, eager for a “bit of revenge,” as McLain would later say after coming in second to Jayne in last year’s Great American Million in Ocala, Florida. He and “Bongo” took the challenge as the fiery chestnut zoomed through course at his naturally fast pace.  They clocked in with a blazing, fault-free 37.648 to steal the lead from Jayne by nearly two full seconds, pushing him to second.

“I’ve made the mistake with [Rothchild] before where I hold back and try to ride more conservatively to back into the win,” said McLain of his jump-off ride. “I knew Charlie wasn’t as fast as he could be and a few of his stride options didn’t show up, so my plan was to ride a quick round without taking massive risks.”

With Ward topping the leaderboard, Jonathan McCrea, riding out of East Windsor, Connecticut, and Aristoteles V, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables, had one last chance to etch their spot in the placings as the final rider in the jump-off.

“I knew I had two very fast riders in front of me,” said McCrea. “Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the jump-off and it cost me, but overall my horse jumped very well.”  McCrea was on his way to besting Ward’s time, until his horse spooked at a decorative obstacle on his way to the last line that cost him valuable seconds.

McCrea and Aristoteles V clocked in fault-free, but their time of 40.410 was not fast enough to edge out Jayne and Ward on the leaderboard, giving them a third place for their efforts.

“It was a great class, and we of course have the super sponsor AIG for four years in a row now which is extraordinary, and we thank them for that amazing support,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “It was a great way for us to finish the Desert Circuit.”

All of the top three victors in the winner’s circle will travel to Ocala, Florida next week for the second jewel of the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix in Ocala, Florida on Sunday March 27 at 2pm.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Grand Prix Riders Battle for the Blue in Week IX at HITS Ocala

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. David Beisel and Cumana.

Ocala, FL (March 19, 2016): Riders went head-to-head for a shot at the winning title and the lion’s share in Ocala Week IX’s $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome and $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix.

$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome

David Beisel of Goshen, Ohio gave a lesson in turning and burning on his way to victory in the $1,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome to kick off the penultimate week at HITS Ocala.  Beisel and Cumana, owned by Kara Cooke, blasted the competition by a full second over his nearest competitor.

Course Designer Marina Azevedo of Sao Paulo, Brazil set a 1.45-meter course of 17 efforts for the 39 starters, many of whom are preparing for the $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix this weekend and the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix next week on March 27. With a class chock-full of talented competitors, including Brook Ledge Leading Rider, Aaron Vale, and returning Week VI Brook Ledge winner Matthias Tromp, the battle for the blue was on.

Twelve horses jumped first round clears and nine jumped clean over the shortened course, which started  a serpentine pattern from the first oxer to a vertical, then another oxer, followed by a to the outside line. The course finished with a left turn to a final oxer.

First to jump double-clear was Derek Petersen from Archer, Florida riding his own Diamant’s Legacy. Putting down an impressive, tone-setting round, they sliced each turn and angled across every jump to set a Great American time to Beat of 28.539. They held on to the top spot through the next 16 competitors, but would ultimately place fourth in the ribbons.

Hyde Moffat of Brantford, Ontario, riding Egor, owned by Martha Younger, was the next to jump double clear, but his time of 30.614 was two-seconds shy of capturing the lead, eventually placing fifth.

Next to contest the shortened course was Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida aboard Carlo, owned by Amatoville Enterprises. Vale was a man on a mission as he angled the first jump at a gallop. He and Carlo sliced and diced their way to a time of 28.426, edging out Petersen by a fraction of a second to garner the lead. Their round would eventually land them the third place prize.

Twenty-third in the order was winner David Beisel riding Cumana. Beisel set up his first round course to prepare for the jump-off, with tight, snug turns that beckoned cheers from the crowd.

As Beisel jumped the first fence in the jump-off, it was apparent that he was going to go all out for the win. They took a speedy turn from one to two, opting for five strides between the jumps. Flattening the serpentine pattern, they angled hard and cut back to the mid-course oxer. The win was just on the horizon as the pair flew through the timers in a blazing fast 25.841-seconds

“What fun – Cumana lives to turn and burn,” said Beisel after setting the jump-off ring ablaze. “I think he had as much fun as I did!”

Matthias Tromp, winner of the Brook Ledge Welcome in Week VI, and KM Whatever RV, owned by the Beyaert Farm, gave Beisel a run for the money, riding the serpentine pattern as straight as possible.  Early in the course it looked like Tromp might steal the lead, but a final time of 26.945 put him in second.

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

The 2016 Ocala Winter Circuit is building steam to its grand finale with the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 27. A class full of this circuit’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix winners competed for another title, but it was Hunter Holloway from Topeka, Kansas and VDL Bravo S, owned by Hays Investment Corporation, who claimed the blue after knocking on the door all season.

(C) ESI Photography. Hunter Holloway and VDL Bravo S
(C) ESI Photography. Hunter Holloway and VDL Bravo S

Holloway finished Thursday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix with a win with VDL Bravo S to head into the weekend’s $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix on a high note. Winner of Last week’s $50,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix, Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas, had a strong second place performance with MTM Reve Du Paradis.

Course designer Marina Azevedo from Sao Paulo, Brazil set a challenging track of 16 efforts that “tested the ride-ability and the scope of the horses,” according to Holloway.

Thirty-six starters took on the challenge with six jumping clear within the time allowed to move on to the jump-off.

The jump-off course started by heading toward the in-gate over an oxer, rolling back and away over a five stride line. The course continued with a bending line to a mid-course oxer, back around over the combination at 9A and B and finished with a right rollback over the final vertical.

First to go in the jump-off was Matt Hollberg of Middleburg, Virginia and Viriato, owned by the Southern Cross Equestrian Center. They sailed around the course, setting the Great American Time to Beat as they crossed the timers in a fault-free 34.131.

Next to contest the shortened course was Mathew Williams of Wellington, Florida aboard Valinski S, owned by Michael Dorman and Wyndmont Farm. They finished just a tick slower in 34.403.

Amanda Flint from Long Valley, New Jersey jumped next on her VDL Wittinger, a winner in this class just three weeks ago. An unfortunate rail at the mid-course oxer would eventually earn them sixth place as they crossed the markers in 37.420 with four faults.

Fenney and MTM Reve du Paradis followed Flint, opting to leave out a stride in the bending line to the mid-course oxer, they clocked in at 32.778 to claim the lead from Hollberg.

Devin Ryan, also from Long Valley, New Jersey, jumped a clean trip on his mount Liratus and also opted to leave out a stride in the bending line to the oxer; his time of 33.884 was not enough to steal the lead from Fenney.

The final rider to contest the jump off was Holloway on Hayes Investment Corporation’s VDL Bravo S.

Holloway also followed Fenney’s lead, opting to leave out a stride to the oxer. They squeaked past Fenney to top the leaderboard with a time of 32.471, dropping Fenney to second and Ryan to third.

“Today in the jump-off, almost everyone was double clear, so my mom [and trainer Brandie Holloway] told me to just get out there and go for it,” said Holloway. “[VDL Bravo S] was with me every step of the way and really showed up for the party.”

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Haley Gassel Brings Home the Blue in the Ocala Week VIII $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

(C) ESI Photography. Haley Gassel and Quite Dark 2.

Twenty-three-year-old Hayley Gassel of Lenoir City, Tennessee, riding her own Quite Dark 2, with the expert guidance of trainer David Jennings, executed her plan perfectly to win against a jump-off field of 18 riders, capturing her first Grand Prix career win in Thursday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix.

“When I started coming to [HITS Ocala] and doing the Junior Hunters, it was a dream of mine to ride in the Grand Prix,” said Gassel. “To actually win one here is totally mind boggling.”

The impressive group of jump-off riders included Aaron Vale with two rides along with Great American Million Winner Andre Thieme and multiple Grand Prix winners Marilyn Little and Tracey Fenney.

Florencio Hernandez of Mexico designed a first round course of fifteen jumping efforts for the field of thirty-six starters. Eighteen of the thirty-six jumped clear first rounds, setting up a mad dash for the cash in the jump-off. Ten jumped clear rounds in the jump-off and every possible option was tried to find the fastest route that could lead to the blue ribbon.

First to go clear in the jump-off was Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida riding Bonzini S, owned by Thinkslikeahorse. The young horse stepped up to the challenge as he galloped gamely down the first line to the combination in eight strides, rolled back tightly to the oxer, did six forward strides to another oxer and five to the tall vertical, with a split time of 21 seconds,

Vale rolled back to the matching red vertical and galloped home in ten really open strides to the final oxer. They finished with a clean round in 33.759, setting the Great American Time to Beat. Later, Vale would go even faster on Quidam’s Good Luck, owned by Troy Glaus, to finish second, and move Bonzini S to third.

Daniel Geitner of Aiken, South Carolina proved that Vale’s time was beatable by doing nine strides down the final line to finish in 33.329 on Kenwood, but crossed the timers with an unfortunate four faults, out of the top five.

Gassel and her huge-strided mount, Quite Dark 2, followed Geitner with their eyes on the prize. Their blazing fast time of 32.605 seconds topped the leaderboard for the eventual win.

“Our plan took a lot of guts; we changed our original plan after watching two or three [trips]. There was just no way to leave out a stride to the combination and still be able to jump out of it, so we did the eight there,” said Gassel. “David told me that the only way we could beat Aaron was to do the six to the five and finish out in nine instead of ten. We also did only seven in the rollback even though I had planned eight. Going to the final fence my helmet was sliding down over my eyes and I was just counting while I tried to flip it back into place.”

Andrea Torres Guerreiro and her Fifty Shades of Grey was the next to jump clear. They clocked in at 34.158 to ultimately finish fifth.

Marilyn Little of Frederick, Maryland, riding Clear Water, owned by Karen O’Connor, did seven to five and finished in ten strides. They were fast across the ground to stop the clock in 33.926 for a final fourth place finish.

Gassel has won other big classes on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit this season, including top five finishes the $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Ocala Week VII Goes Out with a Bang with Sunday Jumpers

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Harold Chopping and Basje.

Ocala, FL (March 8, 2016): As the curtains closed on Ocala Week VII, jumpers competed for a blue-ribbon victory in Sunday’s $50,000 Ring Power Grand Prix, $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic and $1,000 S.A. Comunale Adult Jumper Classic.

$50,000 Ring Power Grand Prix

In an exciting ten-horse jump-off, Harold Chopping from Southern Pines, North Carolina, riding Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington, scored the win in Sunday’s $50,000 Ring Power Grand Prix in Ocala Horse Properties Stadium, by out-galloping and turning the strong competition. Less than four-tenths of a second separated the top four contestants in a nail-biter of a jump-off that had spectators on the edge of their seats.

A group of forty-four prestigious competitors challenged the 15-effort 1.50-meter course designed by Bernardo Cabral from Lisbon, Portugal. The first round course included a difficult triple combination and a double, but ten still managed to jump clear first rounds.

The jump off started with a gallop away from the in-gate, included a rollback to a triple bar followed by a vertical, and a gallop between jumps to the two final oxers, with several turn and striding options for the route. Five of the ten in the jump-off managed double clears with mere fractions of a second separating the top four.

First to go in the jump-off was Christoph Schroeder of Wellington, Florida riding his own Catungee. Schroeder set a blistering pace right out of the box knowing that nine fast horses followed him. He jumped clear and set the Great American Time to beat of 37.808 that held on through the next five challengers and landed him in second place when the class was done.

Following Schroeder was owner and rider Christi Israel of Ocala aboard Clouseau. They had two rails for eight faults and a time of 40.263 to finish tenth. Isabelle LaPierre of Levis, Quebec came next to contest the shortened course riding Cescha M. They gave Schroeder a run for the money, finishing in a fault-free 38.00. She stepped into the temporary second place and would eventually take home fourth.

Next up was Andre Thieme of Plau Am See, Germany riding his horse, Conthendrix. Their time of 37.882 edged out La Pierre to squeak into the second place spot behind Schroeder. It was good enough for a third place finish.

Devin Ryan of Long Valley, New Jersey and Liratus had four faults in 38.776 to take ninth place. Next up was Brandi Holloway of Topeka, Kansas riding Lucky Strike, owned by Hays Investment Corporation. As one of the most consistent performers this circuit, they turned in another great round, finishing as the fastest of the four-faulters to finish sixth in 33.677.

Returning to the ring next was Chopping on Basje. They stopped the clock at 37.639 to edge Schroder out of the top spot by a blink of an eye, .169 seconds to be exact. No one would beat them.

“By the time I went in the Order, the pace and the route had already been established,” said Chopping. “Some people did one less stride to the final jump; I just try to do what my horse is capable of doing – last week I got too aggressive at the end. People in front of me and after me were very strong. Basje is very quick on his own and I have to keep reminding myself not to try to be fast for him.”

Both Tracy Fenney riding MTM Reve Du Paradis and Manuel Torres riding Christofolini H had the times to beat Chopping, but each had four faults to finish seventh and eighth, respectively.

The final rider to jump off was Sharn Woodley of Ocala, Florida riding Barnetta for the Skye Group. He opted for a safe, clear track to finish in fifth.

“He has been brilliant this circuit and always jumps in textbook form,” said Chopping of Basje. “This is our first Grand Prix win this season, but he has been second and in the ribbons multiple times. I feel lucky to be riding him for Kendra; she has owned him since he was a seven-year-old. Now he is ten and really coming in to his own.”

$7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic

Week VII at HITS Post Time Farm brought a talented group of competitors anxious for a win in Sunday’s $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.45-meter Classic in Ocala Horse Properties Stadium

(C) ESI Photography. Jared Petersen and Titus 2:11
(C) ESI Photography. Jared Petersen and Titus 2:11

Both Jared Petersen of Archer, Florida and Brian Moggre of Flower Mound, Texas had two in the top six placings. Petersen was first with Titus 2:11 and sixth with Cornerstone. Both are owned by Jared’s father Derek Petersen. Moggre was second on MTM Flutterby and fifth with MTM Ace of Spades, both owned by Major Wager, LLC.

Six horses jumped clean first rounds over a 1.45-meter course designed by Bernardo Cabral of Lisbon, Portugal. The first-round course looped around the stadium and across the diagonal to a triple combination before rolling back to finish with a double. The jump-off started at the far end over a triple bar, rolling back over the C element of the triple and included a double combination and a final oxer not jumped in the first round.

First to jump-off was Petersen on Cornerstone. They had four faults at the combination in the jump-off in a time of 33.962. That would be good for the eventual sixth place.

“The course was fairly technical for our horses that have such big strides, because it had a lot of tight lines,” said Petersen.

Following Petersen to jump-off was Brian Moggre and MTM Flutterby. The chestnut mare, bred by Tracey Fenney, has been the one to beat in the classic week after week, with two $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic victories so far. They raced to the finish, crossing the timers in 32.278, setting the Great American Time to Beat. They would end up second when the class was done.

Next to contend the shortened course was Carolina Ramelli Barrera of Medelin, Colombia and her own Zoran de Saulieu. They clocked in at a fault-free 33.048, just a hair behind Moggre, earning the ultimate third place.

Elisa Uribe Gutierrez also of Medelin, riding Havana De La Lande, finished clear in 33.528, giving her a fourth place finish, and Moggre on MTM Ace of Spades finished in 33.636 with no faults for fifth place.

Last, but certainly not least, to go in the jump-off was Petersen and Titus 2:11. Petersen showed that he learned from his first ride in the jump-off. The big bay galloped through the timers in 31.368 to capture the lead and take home the blue ribbon.

“Going last in the jump-off, we knew we had to go for it because Brian [Moggre] was really fast,” said owner Derek Petersen. “It really helped to have Cornerstone go first because their strides are so similar. Jared just tried to ride it as smooth as he could, and his bigger stride using the same track was just enough for the win. We were really happy with Titus’ performance today; he is just starting to come back to form after six months of rest.”

$1,000 S.A. Comunale Low Adult Jumper Classic

Megan Manubay of Bear, Delaware, riding Don Stewart’s Okla Homa, topped the field to win the $1,000 S.A. Comunale Low Adult Jumper Classic held in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium on Sunday.

“It was so much fun to have a chance to show in the Stadium,” said Manubay. “After watching so many world-class horses show in that ring, it was really cool to have a chance to show there myself. The footing is amazing and the jumps are beautiful – I can understand why so many top riders love showing here.”

Portugal’s Bernardo Cabral designed the .90-meter course, which was run with an immediate jump-off. Sixteen riders jumped clear first rounds and fourteen jumped clear in the jump-off so time became the winning factor.

Manubay and Okla Homa went third in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 32.642 seconds, which held on throughout the class for the win.

“I went very early in the class, so I planned to go neat everywhere with a little speed. My horse felt great this morning so we were able to stick with the plan,” said Manubay. “I am very fortunate that my time held up. There were some very quick horses that went after me. We did an inside turn from 1 to 2 and everyone pretty much took the same track but my horse is quick across the ground, so we could save a little time in certain spots.”

Katie Holt of Melborne Beach, Florida, riding Charmeur D’Uno V, owned by Whisper Group, Inc., jumped into second place with only three left to go in a time of 33.529.

The final horse to test the shortened course was True Contender, owned and ridden by Colby Hernandez of Morriston, Florida. Their time of 33.530 earned them third place.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Ocala Week VII Hunter Exhibitors Compete for the Blue

(C) ESI Photography. Devin Seek and Caleche.

Ocala, FL (March 7, 2016): The weekend held big opportunities for competitors vying for a prestigious hunter win in Week VII of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Riders descended upon HITS Post Time Farm to compete for the money in the $5,000 Pony Hunter Prix, unique to Week VII’s classes. Qualifying opportunities were also up for grabs with the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, a qualifier for the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix and the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, a qualifier for the $250,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Final – both to be held at the HITS Championship in September.

$5,000 Pony Hunter Prix

Junior riders took to the course in Friday’s $5,000 Pony Hunter Prix to prove who was the ultimate in finesse and style. The team to beat was Devin Seek of Ocala, Florida and Caleche, owned by Laura Barrett-Gurtis. Seek piloted the large, liver chestnut pony to earn a consistent score of 84 in both rounds to garner the victory with a total score of 168.

Charlestown, Rhode Island equestrian Abigail Brayman took home second place with Hillcrest Songbird, owned by Canterbury Farm. Their first-round score of 74, combined with an improved second-round score of 81 gave them a total of 155 for their efforts. Brayman also placed fourth, sealing two spots in the top five aboard By Jove, owned by GC Ponies.

Also in the ribbons was Izzy Beisel of Goshen, Ohio aboard Weebiscuit, owned by David Gochman. They came in just behind Brayman with a total of 154, after earning scores of 77 in both rounds for third place.

Rounding out the top five was Casey Oliver, also from Ocala, Florida, and Posh Ponytail Ribbons, owned by Lola Head. They earned a first-round score of 75 combined with a second-round score of 65 for a total of 140, earning them the fifth spot.

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

Thirty exhibitors competed in Saturday’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix in the prestigious Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. A new name emerged at the top of the leaderboard as the top twelve returned for a second round to vie for the win and other top finishing spots.

The top five places were separated by mere half-points, but it was Ocala’s own Emily Williams who piloted UpCountry Charmer, owned by Jamie Stryker, to the winning title as well as an additional spot in the top five.

Eleventh in the Order-of-Go, UpCountry Charmer flowed through the course to earn a second-round score of 87, which combined with their first-round score 86 earned them a total of 173 for the victory.

Placing just behind Williams for second was Amanda Steege of Bedminster, New Jersey and Calvary, owned by Jessica Tindley. They earned the highest first-round score of 86.5 and a second-round score of 86, which totaled 172.5 for their efforts, only one half-point behind the winner.

Third in the ribbons riding out of Southern Pines, North Carolina was Harold Chopping. Chopping and Caramo, owned by Caroline Russell Howe, were awarded scores of 85, improving to an 86 in the second round, for a total of 171.

Williams earned her second spot in the top five with Tybee, owned by Helen Brown. They received a first-round score of 85.5 and a second-round score of 85, totaling 170.5 for fourth place.

Rounding out the top five was Melissa Feller of Lincoln Park, New Jersey aboard Serafino, owned by Elisabeth McFadden. Feller and Serafino earned a first-round score of 83.5 and an improved second-round score of 84 for a total of 167.5 for fifth place.

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Riders had another chance to show in the ring where the best of the best have competed, Ocala Horse Properties Stadium, in Saturday’s $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix.

Roanoke, Virginia equestrian Elizabeth Bailey and her own Acido 7 took home the blue in the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Bailey and Acido 7 were the team to beat out of the 12 returning horses and riders in the two-round classic. They earned a second-round score of 84, which combined with their first-round score of 83, gave them a total of 167 for the win.

Echo, owned and ridden by Skyler Fields of Wellesley, Massachusetts, earned second place. Their first-round score of 85 and second-round score of 74 awarded them an overall total of 159.

Cynthia Boudreau of Hingham, Massachusetts and Church Road came in third place with scores of 79 and 78, for a total of 157 to seal their spot in the ribbons.

Coming in just behind Boudreau in fourth place was another Massachusetts equestrian Corinne Milbury of Boston aboard Parker, owned by Saddle Ridge, LLC.

Jess Lusty of York, Maine rounded out the top five aboard Anucci. They earned a first-round score of 80, which combined with their second-round score of 73, gave them a total of 173 for fifth place.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Ocala Winter Circuit Continues with $2,500 Brook Ledge Welcome and $25k SmartPak Grand Prix

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Aaron Vale and Carlo.

Ocala, FL (March 5, 2016): Week VII of the Ocala Winter Circuit kicked off with the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome and the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix.

$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome

Williston’s own Aaron Vale, riding Carlo, owned by Amatoville Enterprises, topped the leaderboard in Wednesday’s $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome with a double clear round in a blazing fast 33.220 seconds. Course designer Bernardo Cabral from Lisbon, Portugal challenged the thirty-three competitors with a technical course set at 1.40 meters.

Only six were able to jump clean in the first round to advance to the jump-off. A broken line from the mid-course vertical to back to back oxers in the combination at 10A-B proved difficult for many and caused the majority of rails in the first round. The six that mastered the first-round all proved their skill when all jumped double-clear to contend for the victory.

First to jump clean was Allen Nabors of Ocala, Florida, riding Caesar 322, owned by Christi Israel. They galloped the first line in six strides, did a tight rollback to the tall vertical and made to the inside turn to the combination, crossing the timers in 35.184, which held the lead through most of the class.

“He’s an amazing horse,” said Nabors. “He is just so scopey and jumps so hard; it takes all the leg I have just to hang on to him. I’d really like to thank the Israels for letting me ride him.”

Immediately following Nabors was Cara Raether Carey of North Palm Beach, Florida, aboard Cedric, owned by Trelawny Farm. The bay jumped double clear in 36.647 to slip in behind Nabors.

Nine trips passed before another pair advanced to the jump off, until Lincoln Russell of Columbus, North Carolina jumped clear on Unex Timo IV, owned by Thinkslikeahorse of Williston, Florida. He clocked in at 37.446 for sixth place.

Sulu Rose Reed from Mechanicsville, Virginia, riding Denali for Paula Pell, piloted the big chestnut to a double clear in 37.251 for fifth. Nabors anxiously watched from the sidelines, still holding the Great American Time to Beat.

Going twenty-sixth in the order, David Beisel of Goshen, Ohio jumped a double clear on Call Me Hannes, owned by the Harlow Investment Enterprises. The big grey covered so much ground with every stride and stopped the clock in 34.448 to steal the lead from Nabors.

After several top-five finishes in the Brookledge open this circuit, Vale and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Carlo, would not be denied the blue today. They made all the inside turns and kept up the pace throughout, whipping through the timers in 33.220 for the win, which dropped Beisel to second and Nabors to third.

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

Hot off a trifecta in Ocala Week VI, winning the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, the $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, and the $5,000 NAL Junior/Amateur-Owner, Haley Waters of Sparr, Florida, garnered the victory in the Ocala Week VII $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. Waters has only shown newly-acquired Galous in three classes of the Ocala Winter Circuit, but her plan to move up to the Grand Prix level this week was a smashing success as she garnered the win by a two-second margin.

(C) ESI Photography. Hayley Waters and Galous
(C) ESI Photography. Hayley Waters and Galous

Chuck and Dana Waters purchased the 14-year-old Galous for Hayley to show in the Grand Prix, and after winning last Sunday’s $7,500 U Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.40m Classic, she felt ready to move up.

The competition was fierce as thirty-three competitors attacked the 1.50-meter course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral of Portugal. Thirteen jumped clean to advance to the jump-off where the shortened course included a gallop from the first fence to the second in either 8 or 9 strides, a choice of routes to a vertical to vertical combination, a rollback mid-course, and a gallop to finish over two oxers in either 8 or 9 strides as well.

Six horses jumped clear in the jump-off to take the top six placings. First was Lauren Hester of Lexington, Kentucky on Arly, owned by Hester Equestrian LLC. They jumped the first line in nine strides, executed neat turns and did eight strides to the final oxer to finish in 43.419.

Next up was Blue Moon 22, owned by Full Circle Farm, with David Jennings of Franklin, Tennessee in the irons. They opted for eight strides in the opening line, leaving out a stride to the final oxer to cross the timers in 41.905 to take over the lead. The round would eventually earn them third place.

Following Jennings was Manuel Torres of Waterford, Virginia riding Christofolini H, owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro. Winners of the Brook Ledge Open Welcome in Week II, Torres and Christofolini H threw caution to the wind, taking to the course at an all-out gallop. They raced through the timers in 39.192, stealing the short-lived lead from Jenkins to set a new Great American Time to Beat.

Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas, riding MTM Reve Du Paradis, found a way to better that time, finishing in 38.310, but an unfortunate rail led to the eventual seventh place. Amanda Flint of Long Valley, New Jersey, riding Coverboy, owned by The Coverboy Group, They crossed the timers fault-free in 46.179 to finish sixth.

Hayley Waters had a plan to take lead from Torres, and that called for a slicing inside turn on the approach to the final two oxers.

When Waters stepped into the ring, she made sure her horse knew her plan too. “Galous really focuses on the jumps and looks to see where he is going next, so I sort of walked through the turn as I went in for the jump-off.” The plan worked and Waters’ time of 37.342 edged out Torres to second place. The round caught the attention of several riders and trainers who tipped their hats to show their respect for a terrific ride.

Waters gushed about her horse after the class. “He also let me gallop right up to the base of the combination and balanced himself to jump it clean; he’s a very experienced horse.”

Seven more riders tackled the shortened course, but only one jumped without faults. Billie De Rouet of Bromont, Quebec, riding her own Bonaparte VP Wisbec, added a clean round in 42.699 to take fourth place.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Kelley Farmer Claims Crown, Top Three Spots, Big Payday in $100k USHJA International Hunter Derby

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Kelley Farmer and Mindful.

Ocala, FL (February 28, 2016): The second $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby of the HITS Hunter Derby Tour paid a visit to HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida on Saturday during Week VI of the Ocala Winter Circuit. As the sun set, and the lights of Ocala Horse Properties Stadium flickered to life, the crowd watched in anticipation to witness who could master the course with finesse and the highest caliber of precision.

Following the Furusiyya FEI Nation’s Cup week at HITS Ocala, was the biggest hunter week of winter and the stage was set – Tim Hott of Cumming, Iowa designed a beautiful course of 13 fences for the forty-one who gathered from the East Coast and beyond to contest the two-round derby. It would be Keswick, Virginia equestrian Kelley Farmer who would walk away from the ring with the top three titles and four additional ribbons in the top 12.

“All of the horses were great through the course, and the course was beautiful too; [the event] was just all around quality in addition to having the opportunity to compete for this kind of money here,” said Farmer.

Farmer claimed first place with seasoned derby winner, Mindful, owned by Kensel, LLC, as well as second with Baltimore, owned by Jane Gaston, and third with It’s Me, co-owned with Bibby Hill and Sue Pinney.

“It’s just incredible, but I could not have done it without everyone you see out here, the owners and all who support us. It takes a village. I also owe it to all of these talented, four-legged animals – they’re amazing,” Farmer said, nearly speechless at the plethora of victories. “I was lucky enough to have plenty of shots [at the win].”

Two panels of judges including Scott Williamson, Kim Dorfman, Mike Rosser and Steve Wall, critiqued each rider’s craft.

“The course was beautiful and very well done,” said “R” Judge for the United States Equestrian Federation of 25 years, Mike Rosser. “The fences were unique, and it was a different track than you normally see. The riders had not just one or two options, but three or four options – it was one of the better quality courses that I have seen.”

Unique to the derby format, in addition to the base score, each judging panel 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.

Farmer finished the first round with the highest score aboard Point Being, owned by David Glefke. Six of the 12 returning rounds were piloted by Farmer, but a talented list of contenders ready to rally for blue still filled the second-round Order.

After four trips, two including Farmer and her eventual seventh place mount Need I Say and eighth place Courville Paola, owned by Melissa Rudershausen, no score had come close to Farmer until Cassandra Kahle of Langley, British Columbia stepped in.

Kahle and Cornetto Royal, owned by Yvetta Rechler-Newman, meticulous in their pursuit of a win, opted for all four height options and received a combined total of 15 Handy Bonus Points. It was quite the comeback, but not enough to garner the lead. A first-round score of 172.5 combined with a second-round score of 196 totaled 368.5 for fourth place, just half of a point away from what would be Farmer’s third place score of 369.

Eighth in the order was Elizabeth Boyd of Camden, South Carolina and Brunello. The graceful chestnut Hanoverian and Boyd, a three-time winner of the USJHA International Derby Championships, opted for all four height options and received a combined total of 15 Handy Bonus Points from the two judging panels. They earned a second-round score of 188, which combined with their first-round score of 176, gave them a total of 364 for the eventual fifth place.

The last four trips of the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby belonged to Farmer. The victory was hers to win, with the horse she would share the winner’s circle yet to be determined.

Farmer returned with Baltimore. Opting for all four height options, and earning a combined total of 14 Handy Bonus Points from the two judging panels, they received a total second-round score of 197.5. Combined with their first-round score of 177, that gave them a total of 374.5 for second place – not a bad turn-out for the Oldenburg’s first-ever derby.

“Baltimore is a first-time derby horse, and to be second with him is just wonderful. It’s an awesome result,” said Farmer.

Farmer followed her own round with It’s Me. The judging panels awarded a combined 14 Handy Bonus Points and a total second-round score of 192. Combined with their first-round score of 177, they came out just ahead of Cassandra Kahle with an overall total of 369 for third place.

Mindful and Farmer entered to put in the winning round, and the stunning black Hanoverian gelding silenced the crowd as they gracefully conquered the course, earning a total second-round score of 211. Combined with their first-round score 185, their overall score of 396 sky-rocketed above the rest to top the leaderboard.

“Mindful is a seasoned derby horse,” said Farmer. “He makes it easy, he knows what he is doing and is just a true winner.”

The $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby will make two more visits to HITS this year, stopping at HITS Desert Circuit VIII in Thermal, California, March 15-20 and again at HITS-on-the-Hudson VI in Saugerties, New York, August 3-6.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Ponies Prove Big Things Come in Small Packages at Ocala Week VI

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Alexis Cruz and Summer Nights.

Ocala, FL (February 28, 2016): The presentation of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Zone 4 Handy Hunter Classic to the Ocala Masters commenced with the Zone IV Pony Handy Hunter Classic on February 26 at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida.

Riders maneuvered their ponies through the course, all in hopes of securing a prestigious blue-ribbon victory in the Classic. Only one could take home the title, and that team to beat was Summer Nights, owned and ridden by Alexis Cruz of Oviedo, Florida – not only was the victory a first-time class win for Cruz, but was also her first-ever go at the $1,000 Zone 4 Pony Handy Hunter Classic.

“The course was fun, and we couldn’t be happier that HITS offers this class,” said Cruz’s trainer Laura Barrett-Gurtis. “This is a great program and it’s really nice that Zone 4 gives back to the competitors.”

First to challenge the course was Macho Man, owned and ridden by Alpharetta, Georgia equestrian Daphne Rowse. Rowse and her bay Welsh gelding came in behind Cruz with a score of 69, with an Option Bonus Score of three points and a Handy Bonus Score of three points. They earned a total score of 74 for their efforts, ultimately finishing in second.

Jessica Bader of Bluffton, South Carolina and her own Hershey’s Kiss came in behind Rowse and Macho Man. They earned a score of 55 with an Option Bonus Score of three points and a Handy Bonus Score of eight points for a sum total of 66, putting them in third place.

Lourdes Low, of O’Katie, South Carolina, and Overcast entered next but two unfortunate refusals eliminated the pair from the ribbons.

Fourth to go in the order, Cruz piloted her steady grey mount to earn a score of 68, with an Option Bonus Score of two and a Handy Bonus Score of seven for a sum total of 77 to move up the leaderboard over Rowse’s round.

“She is a really hard-working and dedicated kid,” said Barrett-Gurtis. “She’s very focused and we are thankful to have this class to compete in when we travel.”

Camryn Halley, of Oviedo, Florida, and Caleche, owned by Laura Barrett-Gurtis, were the final pony and rider to test the course in the $1,000 Zone 4 Pony Handy Hunter Classic. They finished with a score of 50, an Option Bonus Score of three and a Handy Bonus score of 10 to put them in fourth place.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com