SAUGERTIES, NY (September 8, 2012) – Today Lillie Keenan proved, as she often does, that age isn’t always indicative of skill or experience. The 15-year-old from New York, New York piloted Chansonette Farm, LLC’s C Coast Z to the top of an impressive group of 66 qualified riders in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.
“This is my go-to horse and this course was really about knowing your horse,” said Keenan. “It’s great to have another final like this with so much support – it brings a lot of excitement to the ring.”
Keenan combined a first round score of 180 with a notable 186 in the second round to sit in first place with an overall score of 366. All bets are off tomorrow, however, as scores are wiped clean and competition moves from the Outside Course to the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium where the top 25 will compete in the third round before the top four scores move to the final round and the winner is crowned.
After boasting the top score of 183 in yesterday’s first round, Patricia Griffith of White Plains, New York held onto a top three position and finished the first two rounds in second aboard Lexi Maounis’ Sienna. Her second round score of 177.15 gave her a total of 360.15.
Three thousand miles was no big feat for Hope Glynn when $500,000 dollars is on the line. Glynn of Penngrove, California traveled to HITS-on-the-Hudson after she spent the winter qualifying for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final during the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California. She rode Helen McEvoy’s Chance of Flurries to a score of 175.75 yesterday and a 178.5 today for a total score of 354.25.
“We don’t have nearly enough money or excitement involved in this sport, so I will do anything I can to support the people who are willing to bring some attention to the thing that I love,” said Glynn. “I looked at the top 25 for tomorrow and we have a pretty amazing group of riders competing, so it should be really great.”
The Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final has been attracting national talent all season with dynamic courses and jaw-dropping prize money. The class was introduced by HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri last year as another historic offering alongside the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.
“It’s anybody’s class tomorrow,” said Struzzieri. “It pretty obvious that the best rose to the top today, but anything can happen tomorrow – it’s in a new ring and it’s basically a whole new class. Clearing the scores after the first two rounds guarantees an exciting final tomorrow; it makes for a better class when the winner isn’t decided in the first round.”
Rounding out the top five going into tomorrow’s final two rounds was Matthew Metell of East Falmouth, Massachusetts in the irons of Heritage Farm’s Pioneer and David Raposa of Clinton, New York aboard Southfield Farm, LLC’s Poolside. For the complete list of riders taking the field in tomorrow’s final rounds, click here.
Chiara Parlagreco holds off all contenders to lead the HITS $250,000 Hunter Prix Final
Even with a last minute horse switch, Chiara Parlagreco of Warrenton, Virginia rode to the top overall score after the first two rounds of the HITS $250,000 Hunter Prix Final. She and Ainsley Treptow’s The Impressionist earned a 170 in yesterday’s first round and combined it with a 173 today for a total top score of 352.
“This horse was amazing. He was super quiet and his cross country experience came in handy when jumping the bank,” said Parlagreco. “At this point, it’s about so much more than the money – I am just really excited to be here.”
Emily Winkler made a significant move in the standings today to combine a 156.5 first round score with a 175.5 for 332 total points in second-place. Despite a serious fall that left her with a broken hip last year, Winkler of Montgomery, New York rode her own Landmark to a perfect position for tomorrow’s final two rounds.
“My horse was originally a jumper so I can’t wait to get him into tomorrow’s handy rounds,” said Winkler. “There aren’t any opportunities like this out there for Amateur riders, so I am just really excited to be a part of it.”
After a wildly successful summer show season at HITS-on-the-Hudson, Kathryn Haefner and her own Bentley posted a 173 yesterday and combined it with a score of 172.25 today for a 352 total to sit third going into tomorrow.
Rounding out the top five before scores are set to zero again tomorrow was Margot Peroni of New York, New York on Pam Wildman’s Cha Cha and Erika Scherer of East Windsor, New Jersey aboard Starview Farms, Inc.’s Serantino. For a complete look at the riders returning for tomorrow’s final rounds, click here.
“This class is the first of its kind and the quality of riders and horses that we have seen this weekend has been pretty extraordinary,” said Struzzieri. “Scores are wiped clean tomorrow, but these riders should be very proud and have already shown that they are among the ones to beat.”
The top 25 riders in both the Diamond Mills and HITS Hunter Prix Finals will advance to the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium tomorrow and duel for top prizes and unprecedented prize money. HITS Hunter Prix Final riders will take to the course at 8am and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final riders will take their turn at 11am.
About Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern
Just 100 miles outside of New York City, nestled in the Village of Saugerties, Diamond Mills is a 30-room luxury hotel featuring stellar accommodations, fine dining at The Tavern and full-service events at a state-of-the art Special Events Center. Diamond Mills is a proud member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an unsurpassed collection of over 520 luxury hotels around the world. Saugerties’ newest luxury hotel is also the proud sponsor of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, which will take place at HITS-on-the-Hudson as part of the HITS Championship Weekend. For more information about Diamond Mills or the special VIP packages available to HITS-on-the-Hudson exhibitors, please visit DiamondMillsHotel.com or call 845.247.0700.