Tag Archives: Great American $1 Million Grand Prix

Beezie Madden Wins Fifth Annual Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Ocala

Four-time USEF Equestrian of the Year, Beezie Madden, is a name that almost every horse person in the world has heard at least once. Madden has been competing at the Grand Prix level since 1985 and continues to add to her resume of Grand Prix wins every year. As of March 25th, 2018, she became a two-time HITS Million Dollar Grand Prix winner as well, with a victory in the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix to close out the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit.

This is Madden’s second $1 Million Grand Prix win with HITS, also winning in Saugerties, New York in 2015. “I’ve been lucky enough that this is my second win. It’s amazing what he offers; all of the venues and shows he offers. I don’t know how he does it all,” Madden said, referring to HITS Owner and CEO Tom Struzzieri.

Alan Wade of Tipperary, Ireland, designing his second HITS Million course, built a track that the riders felt was challenging, but allowed for them to ride to their horses’ strengths in both the first round and the jump-off, with spots to make up ground in turns or in long gallops. “The riders who were clean were obviously thrilled, but lots of riders with just one or two rails came out of the ring very happy with their performance.” said Wade, who was pleased with how the course challenged both the veteran and less experienced riders. “For the developing riders, the more they get to jump a course like this, the easier it will become for them.”

After a challenging round one, five riders would come back to jump off to find the winner of the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. First to jump-off was Lillie Keenan aboard SUPER SOX, Keenan smoothly rode through the course, going clear with a time of 44.479. As the first to go in the jump-off, and to be clean and efficient, she set the bar for the rest of the riders in the jump-off. Her score would eventually be good enough for second place.

Daniel Bluman was second to go aboard SANCHA LS. Being the only foreign rider in the jump-off field, the crowd cheered him on, but he unfortunately had a rail down early and would have two more down, completing the course with a twelve-fault score in 49.954. Keenan was still in the lead, but not for long. Third to go was Beezie Madden and COACH. A crowd favorite, the energy from in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium was at an all-time high as Madden skillfully jumped fence after fence clear, taking the sharpest turns possible. The crowd held their breath just before the last fence, as COACH soared, landing clear and with a time of 44.479, almost two seconds faster than Keenan.  Madden was now in the lead, but would one of the remaining two manage to top that time?

Jamie Barge entered the ring aboard LUEBBO, with high hopes that she would catch up to Madden.  Barge galloped the long stretches as fast as she could manage, and jumped clear, with a time of 48.461, putting her in third place.  As Barge cantered out of the ring, Charlie Jayne awaited his turn in the ring aboard TOU LA MOON. The pressure was on, as he was the final rider to jump-off. Jayne rode to his mare’s strength of quick, tight turns, trying to push the others out of the lead. Approaching the final fence, the crowd went wild, wondering if he would catch up to Madden. As he landed from the final fence and the scoreboard stopped, everyone looked at the time, 47.092, putting Jayne into third place. Madden had won it and the crowd applauded her as loudly as they could.

Daniel Bluman was second to go aboard SANCHA LS. Being the only foreign rider in the jump-off field, the crowd cheered him on, but he unfortunately had a rail down early and would have two more down, completing the course with a twelve-fault score in 49.954. Keenan was still in the lead, but not for long. Third to go was Beezie Madden and COACH. A crowd favorite, the energy from in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium was at an all-time high as Madden skillfully jumped fence after fence clear, taking the sharpest turns possible. The crowd held their breath just before the last fence, as COACH soared, landing clear and with a time of 44.479, almost two seconds faster than Keenan.  Madden was now in the lead, but would one of the remaining two manage to top that time?

Jamie Barge entered the ring aboard LUEBBO, with high hopes that she would catch up to Madden.  Barge galloped the long stretches as fast as she could manage, and jumped clear, with a time of 48.461, putting her in third place.  As Barge cantered out of the ring, Charlie Jayne awaited his turn in the ring aboard TOU LA MOON. The pressure was on, as he was the final rider to jump-off. Jayne rode to his mare’s stretch of quick, tight turns, trying to push the others out of the lead. Approaching the final fence, the crowd went wild, wondering if he would catch up to Madden. As he landed from the final fence and scoreboard stopped, everyone looked at the time, 47.092, putting Jayne into third place. Madden had won it and the crowd applauded her as loudly as they could.

Center stage was Madden having secured the first place position and earning a check for $350,000. When asked about her ride, she said, “I was really happy with how the horse went. I thought the course really suited him. I have high hopes for him.” speaking of the German-bred ten-year-old gelding, COACH, owned by Abigail Wexner. “Everything fell into place really nicely and I had a great support team behind me.”

Lillie Keenan had claimed the second place spot and a hefty prize money check for $200,000 aboard her well-known gelding SUPER SOX after two clear rounds and a jump-off time of 46.229. Keenan, at only twenty-two years old, has an impressive list of accomplishments, launching her career as a top Grand Prix rider at HITS when she was just sixteen years old in the $1 Million Grand Prix. “The most profound part of the experience is that HITS offers an opportunity to riders that are maybe either young riders or haven’t gotten to the point in their careers to have had the chance to jump at that level and also for that amount of prize money,” Keenan said when asked what she enjoys most about showing at HITS. “For me that made a huge difference, jumping a Million Dollar Grand Prix at just sixteen.”

Charlie Jayne was third aboard his mare TOU LA MOON with a fault-free jump off time of 47.092. Jayne, who also competed in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix the week before at HITS Coachella, is familiar with the Ocala Horse Properties stadium and used that to his advantage. “I thought the course was excellent today. There were a lot of options,” Jayne said in thanks to course designer Alan Wade. Jayne has competed in all five Great American Millions at HITS Ocala. “I want to thank HITS, Great American, and the City of Ocala. I’ve come to this Million every year and the crowd keeps getting bigger and bigger. This is the biggest crowd I’ve jumped for this year so far and the energy was really great.”

Jamie Barge took the fourth place finish with LEUBBO, the thirteen year old gelding owned by Kylie Co., after a clear first round and a fault-free jump-off time of 48.461. Daniel Bluman rounded out the top five aboard his mare SANCHA LS with a twelve-fault jump-off time of 49.954.

Visit hitsshows.com for more information.

Minikus and Quality Girl Finish in the Money Once Again at Great American $1 Million Grand Prix

Photo courtesy of Elite Equestrian Magazine.

Ocala, FL (April 1, 2016) – Todd Minikus and his longtime partner Quality Girl have spent the last two weeks chasing a portion of a $1 million dollar prize across the country. On Sunday, the pair jumped a clean first round and finished in seventh place among a field of tough competition in the Great American $1 million Grand Prix held at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida.

Minikus and Quality Girl, owned by the Quality Group, are not new to tough competition that comes with a winning check. The pair have won the $1 million at HITS Saugerties twice, and also placed in the top 10 on several other occasions in recent years.

This year, hoping to get a trifecta victory, Minikus flew Quality Girl out west to the HITS Thermal location in California to participate in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix. The show served as a good warm-up for the next $1 Million class, which took place exactly one week later in Ocala, Florida. Making two cross-country flights and competing in two Grand Prix classes in such a short time is no small accomplishment. “There were huge jumps in both California and Ocala, and Quality Girl really bounced back after my ride in California and showed up ready to go in Ocala. She is an incredible competitor – nothing about the last two weeks was easy, and she couldn’t have been any better,” Minikus said, praising the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare.

The Ocala Great American $1 million Grand Prix course, designed by Irishman Alan Wade, was technical and tall, with all jumps meeting the 1.60-meter specifications. After 40 world-class competitors completed the first round, there were nine pairs to return for the jump off. “I thought the course was big and difficult and I am not sure anyone could have anticipated nine going clear,” said Minikus. Although Minikus and Quality Girl came into the jump off determined to win, they had two unlucky rails and were bumped out of a top five finish. “You really have to respect what it takes for these horses to do what they do. Quality Girl showed what a true professional she is to jump two huge tracks in one week and travel on a plane, which isn’t easy,” said Minikus.

Riders have a third and final opportunity to win a million dollar championship class at the Canadian Pacific $1 Million Grand Prix HITS Championship in Saugerties, New York, later this year. The FEI CSI 5* event will attract riders from around the world. Minikus is looking forward to being in the line-up of the class, which he has won twice in recent years.

HITS, Inc. is known for producing international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in Saugerties, New York, HITS, Inc. hosts the richest weekend in show jumping at HITS-on-the-Hudson. HITS also formed the Triple Crown of Show Jumping, which includes the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, presented by MortgageCall, in Thermal, California; the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix in Ocala, Florida; and the Canadian Pacific $1 Million Grand Prix FEI CSI-5*, presented by Wells Fargo, in Saugerties, New York.

Team Minikus has several more important events to look forward to before summer officially starts. Minikus and Babalou 41, owned by Two Swans Farm, will be working towards qualifying for the opportunity to compete in the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI-5* during the final week of the Winter Equestrian Festival. Next stop is the Longines Global Champions Tour in Miami, Florida from April 2-4 before returning to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for Equestrian Sport Productions Spring Series.

When not competing nationally and internationally, Todd Minikus offers sales and training services just minutes from Wellington, Florida’s Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) show grounds. You can follow all the action from Team Minikus on Facebook and Instagram, or visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com.

Contact: Amanda Minikus
amandajl16@aol.com
562-762-3762
www.toddminikus.com

Order of Go for Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Ocala Released

(C) ESI Photography. Andre Thieme and Contanga 3 on their way to a 2014 Great American $1 Million Grand Prix win at HITS Ocala.

OCALA, Florida (March 20, 2015): HITS, Inc. is pleased to share the official Great American $1 Million Grand Order of Go for the second jewel in the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping. On Monday, March 23 at 6pm, World Cup champions, Olympic Gold Medalists and Grand Prix heroes will converge in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium at HITS Post Time Farm for a chance at the richest purse in show jumping and world-wide fame.

HITS will livestream the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on USEF Network and on HitsShows.com, offering equine enthusiasts around the globe a front row seat for the iconic class. The Great American Million will air at 6pm EDT/3pm PDT.

The biggest names in horse sport will flock to the final day of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit for Million Dollar Monday with hopes to go home victorious. Highlighted Riders to Watch include:

Kevin Babington
Known best for flying the Irish flag in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Kevin Babington brings international flair to the Great American Million. While riding is his number-one passion, Babington has a keen interest in buying and selling horses, and knack for choosing stars. With buyers scattered throughout Europe, he is always on the hunt for his next four-legged star. After his FEI Nations Cup win at HITS Ocala earlier this year, Babington is hungry to stay on top.

Beezie Madden
For nearly three decades, Madden has represented the United States in the world’s most prestigious competitions, including winning three medals at the Olympic Games: Team Gold in 2004 and 2008, as well as Individual Bronze in 2008. She has also won Team and Individual Silver at the 2006 World Championships and Team and Individual Bronze at the 2014 World Championships, in addition to becoming the Rolex/FEI World Cup Champion in 2013. In 2014, Madden placed fourth in AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Thermal and 12th in the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix.

Eduardo Menezes
Fresh off a fourth place finish at the 2015 AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Thermal, Brazilian Eduardo Menezes hopes to move up the leaderboard and take home the big check at Million Dollar Monday. Menezes, now residing in Carlsbad, California, helped his native team secure gold at the 2013 Nation’s Cup in Italy and a silver medal at the FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum
Meredith Michaels- Beerbaum, winner of inaugural AIG Thermal Million in 2014, is an American-born German equestrian internationally recognized as a leader in the sport. In 2008, she ranked #1 in the Rolex World Rankings for 11 consecutive months, to top an already impressive resume including three FEI World Cup Finals wins, making her the first woman in history to do so, and a fourth place individual finish at the 2008 Olympics.

Ian Millar
Aptly dubbed ‘Captain Canada’ by his fans, Ian Millar has ridden in more team competitions than any other Canadian rider and is an eight-time Canadian Show Jumping Champion. At the 2012 London Olympics, Millar set a world record by becoming the first athlete in any sport, from any nation, to represent their country in 10 Olympic Games. Millar achieved his best Olympic performance to date in London with a top 10 finish individually. At the FEI Nations Cup at HITS Ocala, Millar, riding for Team Canada, placed third in the namesake class.

Andre Thieme
Germany’s own Andre Thieme is the reigning titleholder of the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. After a remarkable performance at the first annual Million Dollar Monday in 2014, Thieme became the second rider ever to win two of HITS $1 million Grand Prix classes when his 10-year-old mare, Contanga 3, carried him to the top of the leaderboard. As March 23 approaches there is one question on everyone’s mind – will Andre Thieme defend his title or will a new champion be crowned?

McLain Ward
McLain Ward of Brewster, New York is no stranger to the show ring spotlight. Having competed in more than 10 FEI World Cup Finals and numerous FEI Nations Cup competitions, Ward has a slew of career highlights including Gold Medal finishes in Team Jumping at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and a Team Bronze Medal at the 2014 World Equestrian Games. Additionally, Ward is a two time HITS $1 Million Grand Prix winner having taken home the blue ribbon from the 2010 and 2012 classes from HITS Championship Weekend in Saugerties, New York. Just last week, Ward placed second in the AIG Million at HITS Thermal securing his name on a $200,000 prize check.

General admission tickets for the Great American Million are $10 and available in advance through OcalaTix.com ($2 processing fee applies). Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Horse Show Office at HITS Post Time Farm or by calling 352.867.0508. Tickets will also available at the gate the day of the event.

Day VIP passes available by pre-order only for $100 per person, including ringside seating with a deluxe crudité table, international cheese display, dessert display and private cash bar. Day VIP passes available online at OcalaTix.com ($5 processing fee applies) or by phone at 352.867.0508. Day VIP tickets must be purchased in advance and are expected to sell out prior to the event.

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!

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

Great American $1 Million Grand Prix Makes Debut, Official Order Released

OCALA, FL (March 22, 2014) – HITS, Inc. is proud to announce that the final order of go for Monday’s Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida is available. With grand prix heavy hitters and rising talent, riders from all corners of the world will converge at the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium for the second jewel in the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping at 6pm ET on Monday.

The question begged by anyone who has followed the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping thus far is: will AIG $1 Million Grand Prix victor and California-native Ashlee Bond Clarke pilot her take-charge mare Chela LS to a second million-dollar victory? They topped all contenders at HITS Thermal last weekend in the second-annual AIG Million.

“Last week was a test for Chela and she proved to me and everyone watching that she can compete and win at the highest level,” said Bond Clarke. “She attacked those fences and it has taken a while for last week’s win to sink in.”

In total, fifty-two riders will take to Monday’s million-dollar course, set by Bernardo Cabral of Lisbon, Portugal.

“My goal is both to challenge the riders and have the horses come away from the class in top form,” said Cabral after designing at HITS Thermal earlier in the circuit and at HITS Ocala this week. “I have been able to watch the horses get better and better after being both here and on the West Coast and I am most excited about great sport come Monday.”

On the East Coast, excitement for the Great American Million has been mounting since the unveiling of the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping in September. Leading HITS Ocala money winners Jordan Coyne and Tracy Fenney will cap the order in the final two spots. After a break-out season at HITS Ocala in 2013, 22-year-old Coyne has proven she is at the top level to stay, and will ride Lazaro, her 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Fenney has pocketed six grand prix wins this circuit and will aim to make it seven on Monday with MTM Timon.

“Our final goal this circuit has always been the Great American Million and it’s finally here,” said Fenney, who admits even though she has the resume, nerves always play a role. “I’m up against some of the best riders in the world and this level of competition is always intimidating.”

Other HITS Ocala success stories that will make up the order include U.S. riders David Beisel, Dr. Fernando Cardenas, Jared Petersen and Aaron Vale, each of whom have found themselves in the money on more than one occasion this winter.

The allure of the AIG Million begged East Coast contenders to travel west last week, and those same riders will again take their chances on million-dollar glory this week. USEF Equestrian of the Year Beezie Madden and Pan-American Gold Medalist Kent Farrington will attempt their second $1 million event in two weeks. Joining them in their bi-coastal pilgrimage is Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, Germany’s Andre Thieme, as well as Candice King, Kirsten Coe, Todd Minikus and Charlie Jayne for the U.S.

Returning to familiar territory, two-time Zoetis Million victor McLain Ward will attempt to make it three in the irons of Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z.

Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes, Egyptian Nayel Nassar, and Canadians Elizabeth Gingras and John Pearce were joined in a cross-country trip by U.S. riders Richard Spooner and Jenni McAllister. Unable to deny two opportunities to be a part of the first-ever HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping, the group flew their string of horses to the East Coast earlier this week.

HITS president and CEO Tom Struzzieri was pleased with the overall order and excited about the bi-coastal turnout. “I am pleasantly surprised by the number of riders that chose to qualify for this class via the class in Thermal last week. Fourteen riders flew horses across the country in order to show in the Great American Million in Ocala. That is about twice as many as I expected and accounts for the high number of starters,” he said. “This will be the 45th grand prix that HITS has produced already this year and the third $1 million purse in the last six months. What is especially exciting is that this looks like the strongest field yet.”

The Great American Million will take the stage at HITS Post Time Farm on Monday at 6 p.m. ET and will be available worldwide via live webcast, presented in cooperation with HRTV, iEquine.com and A Good Show. Tune in on Sunday at iEquine.com or HRTV.com.

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!

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