Rave reviews for new Grand Prix footing, riders use Culpeper as their stepping-stone to qualify for the Pfizer Million and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, while sponsors Pfizer Animal Health and Purina Mills enjoy some southern hospitality
CULPEPER, VA (July 22, 2011) – HITS Culpeper enjoyed two strong weeks of competition during its July shows – the Showday National and the Cavalier Classic – with higher than expected entries as exhibitors flocked to Culpeper, Virginia from all corners of the country. An action-packed schedule, which included two more qualifiers each for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, along with new Grand Prix footing, made Culpeper a “must show” for many exhibitors looking to punch their ticket to this year’s Grand Finale in September.
The Showday National opened up the two-week series and was the first opportunity riders had to test out the newly resurfaced Grand Prix ring. “I thought the footing was excellent and the horses all jumped well,” said Ramiro Quintana of West Palm Beach, Florida who, aboard November Hill Farm’s Versace, captured the $1,000 Level 6 Morningside Training Farm Jumpers during the Showday National. “With all the improvements that are being made in Culpeper I am sure it will once again be considered one of the top destinations in American show jumping.”
Culpeper catches Pfizer Million fever
During the Showday National, Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania wasted no time at all getting comfortable with the new Grand Prix footing when he rode his own Mark Q to the blue in the $40,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and picked up his second of eight Grand Prix needed to become eligible for the Pfizer Million. Silvio Mazzoni of Leesburg, Virginia was all business on Sunday when he won the $40,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during the Cavalier Classic aboard his own Remonta Habano, which propelled him into the top 10 of the Pfizer Million Rider Rankings with more than $26,000 in prize money.
The top 40 have remained firm, with Rich Fellers and Lucy Davis continuing to hold the top two slots and, while there were no new riders who earned their way into the current top 40 in Culpeper, several riders gained in their position in the Rider Rankings. Thanks to his win, Mazzoni leapt from 22nd to 7th place, while Colombia’s Manuel Torres moved up to 12th place, Patty Stovel of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania moved up to 18th and New Jersey’s Helen Goddard jumped into the top 25 at number 22 after two strong outings.
Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final a driving force in Culpeper
Culpeper hosted two $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix over the course of the July series, with Jane Gaston and Patty Stovel each taking top honors in the class. In the first week, Jane Gaston and Lumiere picked up right where they left off after the April show with their second consecutive Culpeper victory in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. As usual, Stovel found success in both hunters and jumpers during her time at HITS Culpeper with two top finishes in the Grand Prix and a win in last week’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix aboard Shoal Creek Stables’ Kenya. She now has two of the five classes needed to become eligible for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, while Gaston now has six classes and nearly 300 points, which puts her comfortably in the number three spot of the current Rider Rankings.
Gaston wasn’t the only rider to become eligible for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final in Culpeper. Mary Lisa Leffler of Brookville, Maryland picked up her fifth Devoucoux qualifier and made her return to the coveted number one spot in the Rankings, while juniors Meg O’Mara of Rumson, New Jersey and Winn Alden of Bristow, Virginia each picked up their fifth and sixth qualifiers, respectively.
Culpeper Spotlights Sponsors in July
In addition to hosting two fabulous weeks of competition, HITS had the pleasure of welcoming long-time sponsors Pfizer Animal Health and Purina Mills to the show grounds at Commonwealth Park for their first on-site visit to the property. As a prelude to the $40,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix during the Showday National, Pfizer Animal Health hosted a lovely Horse Owners’ event at the HITS restaurant. Great food and music welcomed exhibitors to an enjoyable evening of equine health education courtesy of renowned veterinarian Mark Crisman, DVM, MS, Diplomate, ACVIM, Equine Veterinary Service.
The Purina Mills team rolled into town for the Cavalier Classic and hosted a fun Pre-Prix Party where exhibitors, friends and family were invited to enjoy a complimentary dinner, live music by the rockin’ Boot Hill Band and the opportunity to win a free ton of feed, courtesy of Purina Mills. Kids of all ages were entertained by the Horseless Horse Show, sponsored by Judy’s Tack Shop, to benefit the High Performance Equestrian Foundation. Iris Corbin of Culpeper, Virginia walked away from the party with a ton of Purina Horse Feed, the winner of the evening’s Purina Mills Win a Ton of Feed raffle.
HITS Culpeper makes its television debut
Film crews from Virginia Living Television (Channel 16 and 17) were out in force during Weeks II and III to film a special feature at HITS Culpeper. Lisa Engel of the HITS corporate sponsorship team and Alden Denegre, founder of the High Performance Equestrian Foundation, were interviewed at the studio, while onsite crews took a closer look at one of the biggest summer horse shows in the country located right in its own back yard. Riders, grooms, show staff and officials, and Grand Prix course designer Jose Gamarra were interviewed for the documentary. Residents of Virginia can tune in next week to see the episode and an archive copy will soon be available on-line at HitsShows.com.
Topaz Vaulters perform at Commonwealth Park
Prior to Sunday’s $40,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, exhibitors and spectators alike were treated to a special performance by the Topaz Vaulters of Catharpin, Virginia. Experts at combining riding skills with gymnastic movements, the Topaz Vaulters made HITS Culpeper a stop before heading to the National Championships in Denver, Colorado with hopes of bringing home a 2011 National Championship Title.
Gracie Dunlop, a HITS Culpeper short-stirrup exhibitor – also a Topaz Vaulter – joined the team in one of their routines. After climbing down from the top of a complex pyramid on the back of a massive Belgian horse, Dunlop hurriedly changed back into her show clothes, climbed onto her pony and returned to competition in the short-stirrup ring where she earned sixth and seventh place in the over fences and third in the under saddle.
Show jumping returns to Culpeper in August with the Winston National, August 17-21 and the Constitution Classic, August 24-28, where hunter riders will have two more opportunities to qualify for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final and High-Performance riders will have two more $40,000 Qualifying Grand Prix for the Pfizer Million. Also highlighting the Culpeper shows in August is the return of the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Junior Equitation Finals.
If the July shows were any indication, all signs point to a busy August in Culpeper. Entries for the August shows must be postmarked by Wednesday, July 27.