Tag Archives: HITS

Seven Teams Confirmed for the 2017 FEI Nations Cup™ CSIO-4* at HITS Ocala

(C) Scott Miller – FEI.

Ocala, FL (February 2, 2017): HITS, Inc. is pleased to officially announce that seven teams from across the globe will turn out for the 2017 FEI Nations Cup™ CSIO-4* at HITS Ocala, February 14-17. The seven teams: U.S.A., Mexico, Canada, El Salvador, Ireland, Venezuela and Colombia will battle it out for global fame in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium at HITS Post Time Farm, and the prestigious event is not to be missed. Click here for tickets to the Friday, February 17, FEI Nations Cup™.

“We are looking forward to the third consecutive year of the FEI Nations Cup™ at HITS Ocala being the best yet,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “The setting for the event, the Horse Capital of the World, could not be more fitting. The Ocala/Marion county community is rallying behind the honor to host the FEI Nations Cup™, and several community events are lined up to create the atmosphere of global sportsmanship.”

Ocala Main Street, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), and the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) are coordinating “Jump Downtown”— a special event featuring the Inaugural Parade of Nations Horse Celebration on the Downtown Square in Ocala on Wednesday, February 15th at 6 PM.

The Parade of Nations will honor and welcome this year’s seven teams from around the world that are in Ocala to compete in the extremely prestigious Nations Cup, and showcase many of the breeds that make Ocala the Horse Capital of the World. Sponsored by the City of Ocala, this family-friendly event is free and open to the public, making it a can’t-miss opportunity to cheer on world-class athletes and enjoy the equine side of the community.

“They say the third time’s the charm, and we are certain the 2017 event will live up to the expectation of excellence that HITS is recognized for,” said Struzzieri. “We are looking forward to witnessing which team will be the winner this year.”

Throughout the Nations Cup Week at HITS Post Time Farm, HITS will offer an upgraded hospitality experience in the Overlook VIP Club featuring ringside seating, as well as beer and wine service and the culinary art of Executive Chef Giuseppe Napoli of The Tavern at Diamond Mills in Saugerties, New York. VIP tables are expected to sell out and reservations are encouraged.

For Overlook VIP Club information and bookings, contact Chris Mayone at Chris@HitsShows.com. Day VIP will also be available for purchase which includes reserved, ringside seating, lunch with beer and wine service. To purchase Day VIP, please contact HITS at 352-368-2449.

The Ocala Winter Circuit runs for 10 weeks, January 17 – March 26. The week immediately after Nations Cup will be FEI CSI-2* on February 21-26. The Circuit culminates with the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 26.

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Week II Hunters Grab the Spotlight at HITS Ocala

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Hunt Tosh and Gotham.

Ocala, FL (January 30, 2017): The second week of qualifying opportunities for hunter exhibitors in Florida commenced with the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix and the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Both classes are qualifiers for the ever-prestigious hunter events of the season at the HITS Championship in September: the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final and the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Final.

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

Hunt Tosh was victorious in Saturday’s Devoucoux Hunter Prix aboard Gotham, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker. They topped the field the highest scores in both rounds, a 90 and an 89, respectively, for a winning total of 179.

Not only would Tosh take home the blue ribbon, but the third place prize as well aboard Wiser, owned by Ceil and Kenny Wheeler. Their total of 170, combined by scores 84 and 86, would score just behind second place earner, Harold Chopping piloting Celtic Gold, owned by Meg Valnoski.

Chopping rode Celtic Gold to a first-round score of 85, improving to an 86 in the second round for a total of 171.

Fourth place belonged to Ehrin Rittmueller and Chicago, owned by Christine Braeutigam, with a total score of 168, and the top five rounded out with Cassandra Kahle riding Applause, owned by Nevergreen Farm, LLC, with a total score of 166.

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Erin Brody brought home the win in Saturday’s $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix with Z, owned by Heritage Farm, Inc. They took a score of 83 in the first round, combined with their second-round score of 85 for a total of 168.

(C) ESI Photography. Erin Brody and Z

Second place was awarded to Carla, owned and ridden by Cara Garito. They garnered the highest score in the first round, an 86, and combined with their second-round score of 81.5, took the prize with a total of 167.5.

Third in the ribbons was Amy Lloyd Thomson riding her own Paramount. The received an 82 in the first round from the judging panel, and with a second-round score of 83.5, raked in a total of 165.5.

Alexa Bayko, winner of several Platinum Performance Hunter Prix at HITS Ocala, finished fourth on Whisper, owned by Monica Hunt. The top five rounded out with Leigh Gallagher riding Eternity, owned by Tibri, LLC.

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Lisa Goldman Conquers the $50,000 Equioxx Grand Prix at HITS Ocala Week II

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Lisa Goldman and Hindsight.

Ocala, FL (January 30, 2017): Elite competition resumed in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium on Sunday with the $50,000 Equioxx Grand Prix. Thirty-seven riders turned out for the grand finale of Week II, and everyone had their eyes on the prize.

Oscar Soberon from Monterrey, Mexico designed a challenging course for Sunday’s crop of riders, comprised of 16 jumping efforts. Nine would advance from the first round to the jump-off where only two would go clear in contingency for the win.

Lisa Goldman of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois garnered the blue-ribbon victory aboard Hindsight, marking the horse’s first Grand Prix win. They entered as the first competitors the jump-off and laid down a solid round that would stand the test of the entire class — not an easy feat for a class of this caliber.

“The course was big and technical,” said Goldman. “There are a lot of very good horses and riders here, so I thought [Oscar] designed the course well. The time allowed was tight but the course was the right amount of challenging for the riders here.”

They clocked in fault-free in 44.120 for the eventual win. Eight more followed Goldman, but none could match her speed.

Venezuelan rider Emanuel Andrade immediately followed Goldman in the order, but an unfortunate rail at the B element of the combination would settle them with the eventual fifth-place prize.

The only other clear round of the jump-off would be Manuel Torres of Colombia, riding Christofolini H, owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro. With many top five finishes and wins at HITS Ocala, as well as several classes competing against Goldman, Torres knew what he had to do to compete — be quick, be clean and shave the time off the clock.

They zoomed through the course as the clock ticked and the crowd cheered.  They powered toward the finish, passing the timers clear with a time of 44.242, just one tenth behind Goldman’s time for the ultimate second place.

Eliza Lehrman of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania took home third place riding Fenom Van Klapscheut, owned by Five Way Farm, LLC. As the final pair in the jump-off, they nearly turned in a clear round, but their time of 51.164 gave them two time penalties.

Tracy Fenney and MTM Reve Du Paradis, owned by MTM Farm, have been on fire at this year’s Ocala Winter Circuit. They returned to Sunday’s class after winning the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Thursday with another winning goal to set.  Unfortunately. a rail at the second-to-last fence kept them from topping Goldman on the leaderboard, but their speedy time of 43.006 earned them fourth place with the quickest round with four faults.

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Competition Continues during Week II at HITS Ocala

(C) ESI Photography. Tracy Fenney and MTM Reve Du Paradis

Ocala, FL (January 28, 2017): The second week of horse shows at HITS Post Time farm is in full swing and riders and horses are hunting for the win in all of the classes the Ocala Winter Circuit has to offer. On Wednesday and Thursday, riders tested their skills in the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome and the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, but only one pair could go home with the win in each class.

$5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome

David Jennings and Carmina, owned by Woodrun, took home the first, featured win of Week II with a victory in the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome. It was a competitive jump-off, with 12 exhibitors scoring double-clear rounds, leaving the winning round all up to speed.

Jennings and Carmina captured the win with a clear jump-off in 41.157. Following behind in second place was Emanuel Andrade aboard Inne Van De Plantaan. They clocked in exactly .01 seconds behind Jennings in 41.167. Andrade would also garner fifth place aboard U.

Harold Chopping and Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington, were third in the ribbons with a clear round in 42.392 seconds. Fourth place was Francois Lamontagne piloting Chanel Du Calvaire with a clear round in 42.958 seconds.

Tracy Fenney Wins $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

The popular SmartPak Grand Prix proved to be a very challenging class for the 36 horses and riders that were in attendance, and everyone was hunting for a slice of the prize.

Course designer Tim Hott of Cummings, Iowa designed a terrific course of 15 jumping efforts for Thursday’s Grand Prix, but only one would go home victorious – and that was Flower Mound, Texas equestrian Tracy Fenney aboard her winning mount MTM Reve Du Paradis, owned by MTM Farm.

In a 10-horse jump-off, they powered to the finish to win the class with a 39.621-second jump-off round to follow their successful showing in last Sunday’s $50,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Grand Prix where they placed third.

Manuel Torres and Christofolini H, owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro, placed second among their peers, stopping the clock in 41.886 with all of the rails up. Third place was Kyle Timm riding Can Fly 12, owned by Apex Equestrian Center. They flew passed the timers in 43.031.

Isabelle Lapierre captured fourth place in the standings with her mare, Cesha M, and rounding out the top five was Juan Manuel Gallego riding Coulash Van De Broy Z.

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HITS Ocala Hunters Take Center Stage

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Dorothy Douglas and S&L Just A Cobbler.

Ocala, FL (January 22, 2017): The first week of qualifying opportunities for the Diamond Mills Hunter Final and the Platinum Performance Hunter Final, which takes place at the HITS Championship in Saugerties each September, commenced this weekend at HITS Post Time Farm. Horses and riders descended on the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium for a chance to qualify in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix and the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix.

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix

Dorothy Douglas of Flower Mound, Texas took home the first Devoucoux Hunter Prix win of the season aboard S&L Just A Cobbler, owned by S&L Farms. They were rewarded with the highest scores in both rounds of the Prix, 85 and 87, respectively, for a winning total of 172.

Second through fifth place were each separated by only one point, proving how high the talent level was in Saturday’s event.

The red ribbon went to Brian Moggre riding MTM Inquisitive, owned by Girling Farm, LLC. Moggre is known best for his success in the Jumper ring, having won the $250,000 Black Barn Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix at the HITS Championship last September. He and MTM Inquisitive scored an 81 in the first round, improving to an 86 in the second round for a total of 167.

Amanda Steege garnered both third and fourth place. Third place came aboard Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh, with a final score of 166. Fourth place was with Loxley, owned by Finale Partners, LLC — they earned a final score of 165.

Rounding out the Top Five was Sarah Barge riding Danturano, owned by Sydney Degrazia, scoring an 83 in the first round and an 81 in the second round for a total of 164.

(C) ESI Photography. Taylor Masters and Paisley

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

The team to beat in the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix was Taylor Masters and Paisley, owned by Redfield Farm. They scored a consistent 83 in both rounds to take home the win with a total of 166.

Alexa Bayko earned second place piloting Carero. They came in behind Masters with a total score of 163, combined by their scores of 84 and 79, respectively.

Third in the ribbons were Jacquelyn Maggiore and Contina. They received an 80 in the first round and a 78 in the second round for total of 158.

Sydney Degrazia took home fourth place among her peers with Reveille Z. Their combined scores of 85, the highest in the first round, and 72 gave them a total of 156.

Rounding out the Top Five was Maeve O’Donovan aboard India. They received consistent scores of 78 for a total of 155 and the fifth-place prize.

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The 2017 FEI Nations Cup CSIO-4* at HITS Ocala Is Drawing Near

(C) ESI Photography.

Ocala, FL (January 5, 2017): HITS, Inc. is pleased to officially announce that the Ocala Winter Circuit will once again play host to the 2017 FEI Nations Cup™ CSIO-4* for the third consecutive year. The inclusive show schedule will continue to give additional opportunities to National and International competitors during February 14-19, 2017, the fifth week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. The week immediately after Nations Cup will be FEI CSI-2* on February 21-26.

“We are honored to host the Nations Cup for the third straight year,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “It truly speaks for the quality of the event in Ocala for the past two years. We are very excited to have the support of the community to further evolve the event for spectators and teams alike in the Horse Capital of the World.”

Ocala Main Street, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), and the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) are coordinating “Jump Downtown” — a special event featuring the Annual Parade of Nations Horse Celebration on the Downtown Square in Ocala on Wednesday, February 15th at 6 PM.

The Parade of Nations will honor and welcome this year’s teams and equestrians from around the world that are in Ocala to compete in the extremely prestigious Nations Cup, and showcase many of the breeds that make Ocala the Horse Capital of the World. Sponsored by the City of Ocala, this family-friendly event is free and open to the public, making it a can’t-miss opportunity to cheer on world-class athletes and enjoy the equine side of the community.

“With loyal support from Marion County and the City of Ocala, in addition to Ocala Main Street, IHMS and the CEP, HITS will once again welcome show jumping’s biggest players to Ocala to exemplify our continued commitment to growing the sport for exhibitors and spectators alike,” continued Struzzieri.

The Nations Cup Jumping series is equestrian sport’s oldest and most prestigious team challenge, with national teams from around the globe competing for one of the most coveted prizes in this Olympic-level discipline.

Last year, the 2016 Nations Cup at HITS Ocala garnered over 5,000 on-site spectators, as well as an unprecedented figure of national and international media attention. The 2015 event was ranked as the second highest in national and international media interest for its overall division in the official 2015 FEI Nations Cup™ Media Report.

“Now, with two years of experience, we can continue to make Nations Cup Week an extraordinarily special week for both the exhibitor and the loyal spectators of Marion County,” continued Struzzieri.  “They say the third time’s the charm – and we are certain the 2017 event will live up to the expectation of excellence that HITS is recognized for.”

Throughout the Nations Cup Week at HITS Post Time Farm, HITS will offer an upgraded hospitality experience in the Overlook VIP Club featuring ringside seating, as well as beer and wine service and the culinary art of Executive Chef Giuseppe Napoli of The Tavern at Diamond Mills in Saugerties, New York. VIP tables are expected to sell out and reservations are encouraged.

For Overlook VIP Club information and bookings, contact Chris Mayone at Chris@HitsShows.com. Day VIP will also be available for purchase which includes reserved, ringside seating, lunch with beer and wine service. To purchase Day VIP, please contact HITS at 845-246-8833.

The Ocala Winter Circuit runs for 10 weeks, January 17 – March 26. A total of two FEI events will be held, including the Nations Cup, from February 7 – March 5. The week immediately after Nations Cup will be FEI CSI-2* on February 21-26. The Circuit culminates with the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 26. For the complete schedule, please click here.

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Andrew Kocher Dominates in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix and $10,000 Open Prix

(C) ESI Photography. Andrew Kocher and USA Today.

Ocala, FL (December 19, 2016): As the curtain closed on the two-week HITS Holiday Series at HITS Post Time Farm, riders gathered to compete in the finale of the series, the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix.

The rider to beat would be Andy Kocher of Lake St. Louis, Missouri riding USA Today, owned by MKO Equestrian. Kocher won the $10,000 Open Prix the day prior to Sunday’s class, as well as the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix in the first week of the series, along with several other top five prizes.

“I really like the Holiday Series; it’s a great few weeks to practice and get the horses out there, and the prize money is great for even the smaller weeks,” said Kocher. “I thought Ken Krome did a good job all week in designing the courses. He put the jumps in the right spots and utilized the ring well to challenge some rails here and there, but he had a nice number clean in the jump-offs.”

Eight horses and riders would advance over the first round course, designed by Ken Krome of Westminster, Maryland, to vie for the win in the jump-off – where half of the lot would gain clear rounds again.

“This was my first show with USA Today; he’s a really great horse and is a seasoned competitor,” said Kocher. “He’s very experienced and has shown all over the world. I had just sold what was my best horse in the last year or so, so last week I was bummed out, but we brought out our new horses and had a great week, so I’ve changed my outlook for the upcoming winter.”

The first to compete over the shortened course was Christina Kelly of Aiken, South Carolina and The Kingdom, owned by Andrea O’Brien. They flew through the course, laying down a solid, clear round in 37.266 to set the tone for the remaining field. When the class was finished, they would take home the second-place prize.

Next to garner a clear round as the third trip in the jump-off were the victors, Kocher and USA Today. They shaved a full two seconds off of Kelly’s time to move up the leaderboard with a time of 35.070, where the lead would remain.

“The jump-off was fast, and not knowing this horse as well, I just sent him quick to really see what he had in him,” said Kocher. “After seeing Christina go, and she rode really well, I saw her horse had more jump ability then mine but I thought I could be quicker across the ground, so I went for it from the wire to the first jump.”

Ontario equestrian Kim Farlinger entered fifth in the jump-off order to give the crowd another clean round. She piloted Charming Force B, owned by Kim Farlinger Stables Ltd., through the timers in 38.563, a round that would settle them into third place.

Matthias Hollberg, riding out of Middleburg, Virginia, was the final rider in the jump-off and the last to snag a clear round. Hollberg rode Aletta, owned by Hollberg Equestrian, to the finish clocking in at 39.363, just a second shy of Farlinger for fourth place.

The final five rounded out with Margie Engle and Indigo, owned by Gladewinds Farm, Inc. Coming off a victory in Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, the two were prepped for success, but a heart-breaking rail at the final fence of the jump-off settled them in fifth in 35.797.

$10,000 Open Prix at HITS Holiday Series

Andy Kocher and Coconut, owned by Eagle Valley Partners, LLC, have been inching their way up the placings over the two-week Holiday Series, and on Saturday, they pulled off the win. Kocher would also grab two more places in the ribbons, fifth and ninth.

“I really like this class and it’s nice if you have a young horse that’s just not quite ready for the Grand Prix,” said Kocher. “Coconut is an eight-year-old that I’ve been producing since he was about six; last year I wasn’t sure if he could be a Grand Prix horse but now I’m thinking he has the potential. He knows where his legs are and is just a very honest horse.”

In a four horse jump-off where all of the trips were clear, Kocher and Coconut sealed the victory as the quickest and most agile team by three full seconds.

First to contend the shortened course was hometown equestrian, Aaron Vale and Stakko, owned by Thinkslikeahorse. They put down a clean trip in 40.260 to set the tone for their peers, ultimately giving them the third-place prize.

Jennifer Jones of Marion, South Carolina followed Vale with Benedetto, owned by Andy Kocher. They shaved two seconds off Vale’s time, stopping the clock with all of the rails up in 38.083, eventually earning them second place.

The rounds kept getting quicker as Kocher entered the ring with Coconut. They zoomed through the course to finish in a lightning-fast 35.254.

The final contenders in the jump-off were Florida equestrian Hayley Waters and Uppie de Lis, owned by Chuck Waters. They mastered the course with all of the rails up, but were not quite fast enough to conquer the trips before them, clocking in at 42.856 for fourth.

Fifth place belonged to Kocher and Carlos, owned by Andrew Kocher & MCM Farm. They were foiled by one mere time fault in the first round.  Kocher also finished in ninth place with E Pleasure, owned by Angelo Danza.

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Holiday Series II Kicks Off with $2,500 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome

(C) ESI Photography. Derek Petersen and Redeemed.

Ocala, FL (December 16, 2015): The Ocala Holiday Classic kicked off as the second week of the HITS Holiday Series. Equestrians returned to HITS Post Time Farm for another week of competition after a brief hiatus to dine, play and explore the city of Ocala, Florida.

Derek Petersen of Archer, Florida walked away with the blue ribbon in the first featured class of the week, the $2,500 Johnson Horse Transportation Open Welcome. The win came aboard Redeemed, a seven-year-old Warmblood gelding.

Four would jump clear to advance to the immediate jump-off, where three would go double clear in contingency for the victory.

Petersen was the first to show and the first to produce a double-clear round to set the tone for the class. He and Redeemed clocked in at 40.983, a round that would remain unsurpassed.

Next to conquer the shortened course was Lexington, Kentucky equestrian Lauren Hester and Clueless P, owned by Hester Equestrian, LLC. They stopped the clock just one second behind Petersen in 41.501 for the eventual second-place prize.

The final pair to go clear in the jump-off was Debbie McCarthy Connor of Patterson, New York and Zim, owned by Connor & Ebetino Jumpers, LLC. The pair won this class in the first week of the Holiday Series. They crossed the finish in 47.140 to secure third place.

Fourth place went to Hayden Morresey riding Cequila, owned by Margaret Bopp, LLC. The final spot in the top five belonged to Ocala rider Allen T. Nabors piloting Cool N’Cavalier, owned by Cassie Bakus.

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Aaron Vale Tops the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix with First and Second

(C) ESI Photography. Aaron Vale and Carlo.

Ocala, FL (December 5, 2016):  Sunday marked the finale of the first week of the HITS Ocala Holiday Series, concluding with the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. Exhibitors and spectators enjoyed a beautiful week to kick off the winter at HITS Post Time Farm with a swell of new features, including updated footing in Grand Prix ring and adjacent schooling area as well as other rings to emulate the very popular Ocala Horse Properties Stadium footing.

Thirty contenders vied for the top prize but only one horse and rider could take home the lion’s share over the course designed by Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, Florida.

The rider to beat proved to be hometown equestrian, Aaron Vale, who would not only take home the victory, but the second-place spot as well.

“Sunday’s course was a nice, balanced course with a good design and it gave a nice tour of the ring,” said Vale. “We’re happy to be here at HITS — the rings have always been very nice here and the footing in the Grand Prix ring felt great.”

Vale grabbed the top two spots with both mounts owned by North Face Farm, first place with Carlo, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and second place with Quality On Top, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding.

The nine-horse jump-off was challenging, and as none would go clear over the shortened course, it all came down to speed.

Vale and Carlo went first in the jump-off, and it looked as though they would lay down a clear round, but they were fooled by a rail at the final fence as the pair clocked in at 44.941. Vale’s second-place trip aboard Quality On Top would be in 45.649 seconds, also with only one rail.

Derek Petersen of Archer, Florida would come in third behind Vale’s two rounds piloting Diamant’s Legacy after stopping the clock in 46.048 with one rail at a mid-course vertical prior to the combination.

Flower Mound, Texas equestrian, Tracy Fenney, climbed her way from eighth place in Friday’s Grand Prix to score the fourth-place prize with MTM Reve Du Paradis, owned by MTM Farm in a 46.529-second round. This pair is no stranger to success in the Grand Prix Ring at Post Time Farm. Their success in this week’s Grand Prix is in addition to Fenney’s recent third-place finish in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at the HITS Championship in September.

The final spot in the top five belonged to Ocala resident Kyle Dewar riding Gomez van de Withoeve. They snagged fifth place with one rail in 47.296 seconds.

Kady Abrahamson Wins the $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic

A talented group of Junior and Amateur riders turned out for the first feature Junior/Amateur-Owner class on the first Sunday of the two-week Holiday Series. Kady Abrahamson of Loveland, Ohio would come out on top of the leaderboard with Bugatti, owned by Abrahamson Equestrian, LLC, in a thrilling two-horse jump-off battle.

(C) ESI Photography. Kady Abrahamson and Bugatti
(C) ESI Photography. Kady Abrahamson and Bugatti

Abrahamson challenged Haley Waters of Sparr, Florida, a residual victor of several HITS Ocala Junior/Amateur-Owner Classics, Grand Prix and veteran winner of the 2015 $250,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Final.

First to contest the shortened course was Waters aboard Idalle van Doperheide, owned by Chuck and Dana Waters. Waters and her mount powered through the course to turn in a cool, clear round in 40.546.

Abrahamason knew what she had to beat to take the lead. She flew to the finish leaving every rail in the cups. The time of the clock was 39.537; a second fast enough for the victory.

Following Abrahamason’s ride, Young equestrian Jared Petersen garnered a third place time with Constantine, owned by Derek Petersen, with the quickest of the four-fault rounds.

Fourth place went to Hasbrouck Donovan and Spitfire-W and fifth place went to Alysson Siopes and Hagrid Van Ten Biesen, owned by AMS Sport Horses, LLC.

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Coaches from Five NCAA Collegiate Teams Attend the NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal Final

(C) ESI Photography. Ana Bertozzi.

Culpeper, VA (October 6, 2016): HITS Culpeper was chosen to host the top riders from the NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal Ranking List to compete in the inaugural East Coast NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal Final. The East Coast NCEA Medal Final allowed pre-college equestrians to compete in the spotlight, increasing their exposure for collegiate equestrian scholarships. There were five NCAA Collegiate Equestrian coaches in attendance to watch the junior riders compete.

“We were incredibly thankful for the support we received from HITS and the sponsors,” said Executive Director of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association, Dr. Leah Fiorentino. The riders were so excited to ride in the bracket format on brand new horses. It was one of the highlights that they all spoke about. Looking ahead, we’re quite excited for the West Coast finals; there were many riders engaged in the NCEA Medal classes on the west coast, so we’re hopeful that the Finals at HITS in November will have a good turnout.”

“It was a wonderful event; it was a lot of fun to watch the riders in the finals compete over the head-to-head courses,” said University of Auburn Women’s Equestrian Head Coach, Greg Williams. “It was a great test for the riders, and from what I overheard from the coaches and the riders, everyone really liked that part of the format. I absolutely see an upside to this event in the future.”

The West Coast Final will be hosted at HITS National Sunshine Series in Thermal, California on November 9-13. Junior riders on the West Coast will have the same opportunity to compete in front of collegiate team coaches.

“This opportunity is fantastic for the riders coming out of the junior ranks and into the college program,” said Showplace Productions owner and manager, Pat Boyle, whose daughter rides on the No. 1 Auburn University Equestrian Team.

Boyle continued to compliment the NCEA Medal Final, saying, “The number of collegiate scholarships available for these riders is growing, and with the notoriety of the program and of this class, I think it will really add to the knowledge of the sport. The overall competition level of the riders was also very impressive going into the NCEA.”

Maryland-based trainer Patty Foster, who is also a parent to a collegiate equestrian athlete, also praised the program. “The NCEA Medal Final, and the format of the class, really gives the riders an idea of what competing on a team is like before they actually get to that level.”

“HITS was honored to host the East Coast NCEA Medal Final at HITS Culpeper; it was a successful event, and we’re looking forward to hosting it again on the West Coast at the National Sunshine Series in November,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri.

Last weekend on the East Coast, Ana Bertozzi of Leesburg, Virginia topped the field of riders to win the Championship, with the Reserve Champion going to Hannah Matts of Oakland, New Jersey. Third place went to Lauren Rachuba of Woodbine, Maryland and rounding out the top four was Emily Leins from McLean, Virginia.

“Thank you to everyone at HITS for supporting this great class and our two Finals both East and West coasts,” said NCEA National Advisory Board member, Tom O’Mara. “Additionally, so many great sponsors have offered to support this event, including Horseware Ireland, One-K Helmets, EquiFit Boots, Fabbri Boots, ECE Equestrian Shirts, Threadneedle, Go Girl Energy drinks and Perry Communications.  Thanks all for making our inaugural year a huge success.”

Riders met for a riders meeting the morning of the class to draw for the order of go, where they also enjoyed a breakfast buffet, compliments of Marshall & Sterling Insurance League.

The Finals consisted of three-phases: Over Fences phase, Flat phase and a Bracket phase, judged by Frank Willard of Oak Ridge, North Carolina and Kim Dorfman of Aiken, South Carolina.  Riders competed over a 3’3” course designed by Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, in hopes of claiming the prestigious title.

Riders competed under a unique format, which combined a Medal-style course and a flat phase, with the bracket-style competition used at NCAA competitions. The riders that moved onto the bracket phase were determined by their combined jumping and flat scores, where they came back to compete head-to-head on a neutral horse – this gave the riders a taste of the competition format faced when riding for an NCAA team.

Under the bracket format, the first place rider competes with the fourth place rider in a head-to-head round on the same horse over a new course, as do the second place against third place riders. The winners of the two semi-final brackets compete again over fences on a neutral horse to determine the first-ever, NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal – East Coast Champion. Third and fourth place riders are determined by their combined scores in the jumping, flat, and semi-final bracket phases. The fifth through tenth place riders are determined based on the jumping and flat phase.

It all came down to the ride-off between Ana Bertozzi and Hannah Matts to determine the overall winner. The judges critiqued each rider in their craft, carefully accessing the horsemanship and equitation skills of each equestrian as they rode for the win: Matts competed first, followed by Bertozzi. It was a close match as Bertozzi prevailed, edging out Matts’s score by just one point.

“The original course gave the riders a lot of different options and questions, and the two test rounds rode really well,” said Michael Bertozzi, father and trainer to Ana. “Ana has been able to do a fair bit of catch-riding and practicing on different animals, which helped her prepare for the class. The idea of the class is a very good one.”

The NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal Finals will make its first stop on the West Coast at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California, during the National Sunshine Series.

Click here for more information on the West Coast NCEA Medal Finals.

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