CULPEPER, VIRGINIA (October 7, 2011) — Six weeks of show jumping, which started in April at HITS Commonwealth Park, concluded this past Sunday with big prize money, record-breaking entries and tons of exciting year-end show jumping at the Culpeper Finals. The final show week of the year for the HITS calendar delivered and set a promising precedent for next year’s show jumping opportunities.
After the 2011 Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix drew crowds to HITS-on-the-Hudson as the top Grand Prix and Hunter riders from around the world rode for serious prize money, momentum was building for the Culpeper Finals. Riders caught Pfizer Million fever and transitioned from HITS-on-the-Hudson to Culpeper with ease to get a jumpstart on qualifying for the 2012 $1 Million Grand Prix. Commonwealth Park attracted impressive numbers for last week’s special year-end classes, serving as a strong finish to the HITS’ show jumping circuits.
$25,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic
Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumper riders were rewarded with a $25,000 purse in the High Classic on Sunday as a field of 18 competed over a course designed by Olaf Petersen Sr. of Paehl, Germany. Amateur rider and seasoned Grand Prix veteran Laura Linback of Mundelin, Illinois took home the blue ribbon after posting the fastest double-clear effort aboard Woodrun’s Casino.
“This was a great class,” said Linback, one of six riders to return for the jump-off. “The course was challenging but fun to ride.”
Linback had the coveted last-to-go spot in the jump-off to help her find her way to victory.
“I knew there wasn’t too much room for comfort in the jump-off, so it had to be all or nothing,” she explained. “I really needed to gallop and there were some tight inside turns. I knew my horse was fast and careful but there’s always the risk of a rail.”
Linback posted a time of 34.857 seconds and shaved nearly two seconds off the leading time previously held by second place finisher Alden Denegre of The Plains, Virginia aboard her own Pimpernel. Linback also secured the fourth place ribbon aboard Woodrun’s Uppsala.
“Having two in the jump-off is always nice,” she said. “After I had a rail the first time around I knew what I needed to do at the end.”
Rounding out the top five ribbons were Fernando Cardenas of New Hill, North Carolina aboard his own Quincy Car in third and Brittany Hurst of Jackson, New Jersey aboard Redfield Farm’s Vicky in fifth.
Linback and Casino also had the honor of being crowned the SmartPak Grand Circuit Champions of the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High division.
$15,000 Junior/Amateur Jumper Low Classic
The $15,000 Junior/Amateur Jumper Low Classic saw 25 riders compete in the Grand Prix ring eager to claim a spot in the ribbons. At the end of the jump-off, it was Amateur rider Erica Davis of Cheswick, Pennsylvania and her own Le’ Roi who mastered Petersen’s course and captured the victory.
After the first round, six riders returned for jump-off. Amateur rider Sherri Jamison of Citra, Florida aboard her own Caliente Z was the first to return and set the time to beat with a clear round in 43.160 seconds.
Anna McWane of Middleburg, Virginia and her own Vincent were next to show and fell victim to a rail for four jumping faults.
Jamison lost the lead to Victoria Smith of Winchester, Virginia and her own Diego, who shaved time off the clock to set the new challenge at 40.584 seconds.
After Ellie Morris of Hinsdale, Illinois aboard her own High Rustler and Darby Toben of Califon, New Jersey aboard her own Virgin Media picked up jumping faults, Davis entered the ring as the final ride and clinched the victory with a clear effort in a time of 39.197 seconds.
SmartPak Parade of Champions
The annual SmartPak Parade of Champions took place prior to the HITS Grand Prix and riders were honored for their overall performance during the HITS Culpeper Circuit. Alongside their Champion mounts, riders were presented with a Champion ribbon and a Culpeper Circuit Champion jacket from SmartPak.
About SmartPak Equine
Founded in 1999, SmartPak Equine is the country’s largest online and catalog retailer serving the needs of the active and engaged horse owner. The patented SmartPak supplement feeding system has simplified the process of feeding horse supplements and medications, making it easier for thousands of riders to keep their horses healthier by ensuring their supplements are being fed correctly. SmartPak’s diverse and expansive product offering includes its own line of supplements, tack, and horse blankets as well as an extensive selection of leading brands of equine health, apparel, tack, and equipment. SmartPak is a six-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree and is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list. SmartPak is backed by Waltham, MA-based North Bridge Growth Equity.
The road to the Pfizer Million begins again!
Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas added the $40,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, to her repertoire of victories at HITS Ocala, HITS Culpeper and HITS-on-the-Hudson, including a top 20 finish in this year’s Pfizer Million in September. Her HITS Grand Prix win aboard MTM Farm’s MTM Centano gave her the first qualifier for the 2012 $1 Million Grand Prix and she will lead the rider rankings going into the 2012 circuits.
Fenney was joined by Patty Stovel of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, who finished second aboard her own Carigor Z fellow Chester Springs native, Callan Solem was third on Torlando Group’s VDL Torlando.
“The Pfizer Million is one of the most important events now in this sport,” said Fenney. “I’ve been lucky to compete and place both years now and this year I also did the [Diamond Mills $500,000] Hunter Final which was a great event.”
This winter, Fenney will return to HITS Ocala this winter and will undoubtedly establish herself as a top finisher in the Grand Prix and hunter ribbons.
Culpeper shaping up as a key qualifier for 2012 $1 Million Weekend classes
This year, hunter and jumper riders used HITS Culpeper as a qualifying destination for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. With the addition of the $250,000 HITS 3′ Hunter Prix Final and the Marshall & Sterling Junior Medal to the HITS show jumping finale, riders will once again look to HITS Culpeper. Junior, Amateur and Professional riders from all over the country and beyond will ascend on Commonwealth Park in 2012 to stamp their ticket for America’s richest weekend in show jumping.
“I enjoy coming to Culpeper since it’s close to home and it’s a very welcoming place to be for us and the horses,” said Stovel. “The facility continues to improve each year and the Hunter [Prix] classes were especially a big attraction.”
Stovel is a regular competitor at HITS Ocala, HITS Culpeper and HITS-on-the-Hudson and won two $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix qualifying classes at HITS Culpeper this year to help cement her spot in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. Stovel’s assistant trainer, Sarah Lane, also used Culpeper to earn a spot in the Final.
“I plan to qualify again next year for the Hunter Prix Final and if my horses are ready, we’ll try and be a part of the $1 million class as well.”
Show jumping at HITS Culpeper will return next year to kick off the spring season from April 18-22.