Tag Archives: HITS

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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Gavin Moylan Grabs the Victory in the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix at Culpeper

(C) ESI Photography. Gavin Moylan and Pernod.

Culpeper, VA (October 4, 2016): The curtain closed on the 2016 HITS Culpeper season on Sunday with the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix. Riders and horses laid it all on the line to pursue the last big victory in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Commonwealth Park.

The team to reign supreme was Gavin Moylan of Middleburg, Virginia aboard Pernod, owned by Alpha Omega Farm. The battle for the blue came down to a race against the clock, with the top three separated by only tenths of a second. This victory marked Moylan and Pernod’s second Grand Prix win of the season at HITS Culpeper, in addition to impressively claiming a number of ribbons in other Culpeper Grand Prix classes.

“I am thrilled with Pernod’s performance; every time I’ve taken him in the ring, I feel like I had a chance to win,” said Moylan.  “I’d like to say thank you to Bart and Abby Frye, who I co-own this horse with.”

Five advanced to the jump-off set by course designer Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City. The first to contend the shortened course was Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas and MTM Reve Du Paradis.

Fenney and Reve Du Paradis, owned by MTM Farm, won the $25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix on Friday, and they had their eyes on another prize. They put down a quick, clear round in 36.129 to set the tone for the remaining field. They would take home the second place prize when the class was finished.

The victors, Moylan and Pernod, immediately followed Fenney, knowing their round would need to be solid to edge her out and also stay strong with three more trips left. They crossed the timers in a lightning-fast 36.098, overcoming Fenney by just fractions of a second.

“The course was definitely challenging and it was a very fast class,” said Moylan. “Tracy, Dorothy and I were all separated by just a tenth of a second give or take, so to be able to compete against those guys, who are so competitive, and come out on top was great.”

Dorothy Douglas, also of Flower Mound, Texas, was next to challenge the shortened course, piloting S&L Elite, owned by MTM Farm. They powered through the course, stopping the clock at 36.202, to ultimately take home third place.

Only two remained in the jump-off. Fenney returned with her second ride for another shot at topping the leaderboard. She rode MTM Como No, owned by MTM Farm, through the course, but a rail at a mid-course fence before the combination thwarted their chance of the win – ultimately settling them in fourth place with a 39.470-second round.

Last to contend the jump-off round was Matthias Hollberg riding out of Middleburg, Virginia aboard Czechmate, owned by Courtney Ramsay. They would turn in eight faults as they crossed the finish in 37.711, rounding out the top five in fifth.

$15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic – 1.45m

The winner of the High Jr/A-O Classic at HITS Culpeper was Myrto Iliadis of Waterford, Virginia riding Voila He, owned by Daphne Iliadis. The equestrian and her mount bested a field of their peers as the only clear round of the three-horse jump-off.

Second place went to Tamara Morse and Ravenna, co-owned with Stuart Morse. Third went home with Felicia Russell and her own Habsurg 2.

$10,000 Pyranha Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Low Classic – 1.35m

Nikki Prokopchak of Barnesville, Maryland took home the blue in the Low Jr/A-O Classic on Sunday. Prokopchak piloted Agropoint Cassius to the victory in a two horse jump-off.

Califon, New Jersey equestrian Darby Toben was second place aboard D’Artagnan, owned by Doreen Toben. They earned one time fault in the jump-off with Prokopchak for the placing.

Third in the ribbons was Jocelyn Albaugh of McLean, Virginia and Axei Springs, owned by Lyle Albaugh. The pair claimed their spot in the top three with the fastest four-fault trip in the first round.

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Hunter Riders Turn Out for the Blue at the Culpeper Finals

(C) ESI Photography. David Wilbur and Adore.

Culpeper, VA (October 2, 2016): Exhibitors from the East Coast and beyond traveled to HITS Commonwealth Park for the final weekend of competition, but only one winner could be crowned in each Hunter Prix: the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix and the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix.

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix
The top five riders would claim multiple ribbons in the class, but a HITS Champion returned to the ring in Culpeper to once again claim a winning title. After staking claim to the second-annual Stal Hendrix Pre-Green Futurity at the HITS Championship in September, David Wilbur piloted Adore, owned by Stephanie Ray, to another blue ribbon.

The Ocala, Florida equestrian rode the stunning grey mare to an impressive first-round score of 88, the highest of the round. After the top 12 returned for the second round of the classic, Wilbur and Adore once again swept the competition with an 88, totaling 176 for the victory.

Wilbur also captured the final spot in the top five aboard Fila, owned by Taylor Lampert. They earned an 84.5 in the first round, and a 79 in the second round for a total of 153.5 for fifth place.

Second in the ribbons belonged to Caitlin Venezia-White of Marston’s Mills, Massachusetts piloting Waterfall, owned by Jennifer Combs. Together the pair earned a first-round score of 86, followed by an 88 in the second-round to total 174.

Venezia-White would also garner fourth place with Spottless, owned by Heather Georges. They earned scores of 82 and 84, respectively, for a total of 166.

Melissa Feller of Flemington, New Jersey took Shameless to the third place ribbon with a first-round score of 85.5 and a second-round score of 85 for a total of 170.5. Feller would also earn a second ribbon in sixth place aboard Chanel, owned by Sloan Hodges.

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix
Junior and amateur riders put it all on the line for a shot at the winning spotlight in Saturday’s $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix.

The team to beat was Emily Smith of Bethesda, Maryland riding Validictorian. They claimed the highest score of the round with an 82, for the victory.

Second in the ribbons was Emma Koeppen of Frederick, Maryland riding Portrait, owned by Julie Teitel. They scored just behind Smith with an 80 for their efforts.

Emily Simon of Virginia Beach, Virginia took home third place honors piloting Thor’s Hammer, owned by Debra Teets; they turned in a score of 75.

Radnor, Pennsylvania equestrian Jessa Kinney was fourth riding her own gelding, World Power. Rounding out the top five was Payton Lawrence of Leesburg, Virginia and Fair Game, owned by Liam Fell.

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Tracy Fenney Grabs First and Third in $25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix

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

Culpeper, VA (October 1, 2016): Exhibitors turned out for the final week of the Culpeper Show Series at HITS Commonwealth Park and the weekend kicked off with the $25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix on Friday afternoon.  Everyone was hungry for the winner’s share and the top five contenders would be separated by only fractions of a second for an exciting race against the clock.

It was a good day for MTM Farm. Tracy Fenney not only walked away with the victory, but with the third-place prize as well.  Her winning mount, MTM Reve Du Paradis, brought home the blue over the course set by Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City. Fenney garnered third with MTM Como No.

The Flower Mound, Texas equestrian was the first to enter the ring and put down a clear round to set the tone for the remaining order right off the bat with third-place mount, MTM Como No. They stopped the clock in 33.707.

Following Fenney was Mary Lisa Leffler of Brookeville, Maryland aboard Bling Bling, owned by Rolling Acres. They put down a solid round right behind Fenney, and edged her ride by mere fractions with her 33.175-second round. Leffler would take home the second place prize when the class was finished.

Dorothy Douglas, also of Flower Mound, Texas, went ninth in the order, laying down a fault-free trip with S&L Elite in 33.817. Their round would earn them fourth place, sealing the third top-five finish for MTM Farm.

Fenney and MTM Reve Du Paradis followed Douglas to put down the quickest of the eight that went clear to contest the immediate jump-off. Their speedy time of 32.212 with no faults conquered the rest of the field to take home the blue.

The top five rounded out with Ocala, Florida rider Ian Silitch and Cordovo, owned by Gaston Family Investments. They passed the timers in 37.571 with all of the rails up to seal the final spot in the top five.

Fenny and Douglas have had a successful fall competing with HITS. Both Douglas and Fenney finished in the prestigious top four at the HITS Championship recently in Saugerties, New York. In the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix, Fenney captured third place and Douglas finished fourth.

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Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals: Part II

(C) ESI Photography. Britta Lippert and Archie.

Saugerties, NY (September 20, 2016): Show jumping competition at HITS Saugerties continued throughout the weekend with the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals. Featuring specialty classes in Children’s and Adult Hunter, Jumper and Equitation, these unique finals gave a deserving group of riders their moment in the spotlight.

Dover Saddlery Adult Medal Final
Britta Lippert of Sea Girt, New Jersey took home the coveted blue ribbon in Saturday’s Dover Saddlery Adult Medal Final. She topped a field of thirty with the highest first-round score of an 86, and then moved into the final round on top to score an 85 among the top 12 that returned. Her combined scores led her to a victorious total of 171.

Second place went to Marmora, New Jersey rider Kendall Casaccio. She finished the first round with a score of 81, putting her in fourth heading into the second round. Climbing her way up the leaderboard with the highest score in the second round, an 86, sealed her spot in the placings with a total of 167. Casaccio and her mount Wilhelm also earned the second place prize in the $1,250 Adult Working Hunter.

Cady MacPherson of Pembroke, Massachusetts went on to a third place finish with scores of 83 in the first round, and a 82.5 in the second round to finish just behind Casaccio with a total of 165.5.

Fourth place was awarded to Tracy Glicker. The equestrian also rounded out the M&S Finals with a fifth place ribbon in the $2,000 Adult Working Hunter Stake aboard Redford. The top five closed out with Matthew Lowe.

M&S Child Pony Medal Final – Small/Medium
Hailey Pendl of Westtown, New York gave a stellar performance worthy of the top prize in the Marshall & Sterling 2’6” Child Medal Finals. Boasting scores of 84 in both rounds, for a total of 168, she shined among her peers for the title win.

Thirty-two riders took their chance over the round one course designed by Rian Beals of Saugerties, New York. Testing the riders on their horsemanship skills, many competitors received scores in the mid-to-high seventies and low eighties – proving the field to be a competitive one.

The top twelve returned for round two and competition started on a high note with scores in the eighties for the first few entries. The rider to take home second place behind Pendl would ultimately be Maria Sabers of Stockton, New Jersey. She came into the second round in sixth place with a 79.5, making a tremendous comeback with the highest score of the final, an 85, to seal her place with a 164.5.

Alexa Lignelli brought in the third place prize just on the heels of second place, Sabers. Lignelli went into the second round with the leading score of 85, and her final round score of 79 gave her a total of 164, just behind Sabers by a half of a point.

Olivia Corwin took home fourth place, and the final five topped out with Hope Verschleiser.

Marshall & Sterling Junior Medal Final
MacKenzie Suffy of West Milford, New Jersey rocked the M&S Junior Medal Final with a fifteen point lead over the competition. She claimed the highest scores in both rounds, an 86 and 73, respectively, for the triumphant total of 159.

Coming into second place was Ashley Delise of Pittstown, New Jersey. She came into the final round in fourth place with a score of 75, and then she pushed her way up the rankings with a 69 in the second round for a 144-point total.

Hannah Matts claimed third place with scores of 77 and 65 for a total 142. Fourth place was awarded to Sarah Kessler and fifth place was Katy Merchant.

Marshall & Sterling Junior/Amateur Horsemanship Final
Neshanic Station, New Jersey rider, Katy Merchant, bested a field of her peers aboard Caracas for the top prize in the M&S Junior/Amateur Horsemanship Final. After a fifth place finish in the M&S Junior Medal Final, the duo rose to the top in the class immediately following on Sunday with a solid score of 87.

Katherine Driscoll earned second place with Fiorano Z with a total of 81. Driscoll moved up the rankings after a flat phase that proved him worthy of a higher spot in the ribbons. Third place went to Anabel Barnett riding Rockafella with an 84-point round. Barnett moved down behind Driscoll in the flat phase.

Fourth place went to Danielle Markey riding Anabel Barnett’s Gineon. They scored behind Barnett with a 78. The curtain closed on the top five with Eileen O’Leary riding Baham Boy, owned by Bre Pickens. O’Leary and Bahama Boy scored the Adult Individual Gold Medal at the USHJA Child/Adult-Amateur Individual Jumper Championships at HITS Saugerties earlier this season.

Marshall & Sterling Children’s Pony Medal Final – Large
Forty-three riders and large ponies turned out to compete in the M&S Children’s Large Pony Medal Final in the hopes of claiming first-place honors.

Julia Bonvino of Manhasset, New York was the rider to beat, claiming the top spot by nearly seven points. She came into the final round with an 82, which had her in second place; her score of 85 pulled her up for the win with a total of 167.

Second place honors belonged to Tempe Saltiello of Lebanon, New Jersey. She scored an 80.5 in the first round, followed by a solid 80 in the second round for a total of 160.5.

Madyson Diaz was next in the ribbons for third. She came in just behind Saltiello with a total of 160, with scores of 84 and 76, respectively.

Fourth place went to Annika Srivastava and Mae Gordon took fifth place.

Sore No-More Children’s Medal Final – Horses
Ella Holowesko stole the show in this special Sunday class among a talented and competitive field of 60. The top five all scored in the mid to high eighties, highlighting the challenge of scoring the leading round, which made the victory all the more sweet for Holowesko.

Holowesko earned a first round score of 86, bringing her into the second round in second place. Her final round score of 85 combined with their first round score gave her the winning total of 171.

Second place went to Annie Walsh. The equestrian also won the Child Hunter 14/U Reserve Championship. With scores of 87 and 80, she rode to a total of 167 for her spot on the leaderboard.

Devon Thomas took home third place honors. She scored an 85 in the first round, followed by an 81 in the final round for a total of 166.

Fourth place went to Raegan Landrum and the top five rounded out with Abigail Lefkowitz.

Grand Hunter Champion
The Grand Hunter Champion was Serafino, owned by Elisabeth McFadden and ridden by Melissa Feller. Reserve Champion was Rio Cirque du Soleil owned by Anne Boyd, and ridden by Jessica Connor.

Children’s Working Hunter – Pony Small
The Champion honors in the Children’s Working Pony Hunter Small division were awarded to Jordyn Goldsmith aboard Crystal Acres Twinkle Toes. Reserve champion was Aerin Genatt riding Joe Currais’ Party Crasher.

Children’s Working Hunter – Pony Medium
The Champion honors in the Children’s Working Hunter Medium Pony division were awarded to Clara Propp aboard Saltwood Tuscany.  Reserve Champion was, once again, Aerin Genatt riding Look at Me.

Children’s Working Hunter – Pony Large
The Champion honors in the Children’s Working Hunter Large Pony division were awarded to Ella DiFazio aboard Pamina. Reserve Champion was Stella Propp riding News Day.

Children’s Working Hunter – Horse
The Champion honors in the Children’s Working Hunter Horse division were awarded to Lorelei Knadler aboard Huehuetenango. Reserve Champion was Hayden Wilkes riding Gatsby.

Best Junior Rider – Horse
The Best Junior Rider on a Horse was Annie Walsh.

Best Adult Rider
The Best Adult Rider was Samantha Karp.

Best Junior Rider – Pony
The Best Junior Rider on a Pony was Maria Sabers.

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Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals: Part I

(C) ESI Photography. Cora Schiavone and Annabelle.

Saugerties, NY (September 17, 2016): The Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals returned to HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York on Wednesday, September 14. Competition was underway for the nation’s most decorated up-and-coming Children’s and Adult Hunter, Jumper and Equitation riders.

Marshall & Sterling 2’6” Adult Medal Final
Thirty-four tested the ten-fence course designed by Rian Beals in hopes of taking home the Marshall & Sterling 2’6” Adult Medal Final title. The rider to beat was Cora Schiavone of Oldwick, New Jersey, scoring a consistent 81 in both rounds, claiming the highest score in the second round after returning with the top 4 riders. Their triumphant total of 162 earned them the blue ribbon.

Second place went to Nathaniel VanDoren of Cortland, New York, scoring an 82 after a majestic first round, entering the final round at the top of the pack. VanDoren navigated his way to a second round score of 77, which gave him a total of 159.

Next in the ribbons was Harleyville, Pennsylvania equestrian, Lauren Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald entered the second round in third place after earning a first round score of 80. A 55 in the second round gave her a total of 135 when the class was done for the third-place prize.

Grace Bankowski of Nazareth, Pennsylvania took home fourth place honors with Lily Langtree, owned by Kassidy Danley. They rounded out the top four with scores of 77 and 51, respectively, for a total of 128.

$7,500 Adult Jumper Classic
Stacy Mahoney of New York, New York and Charisma Blue bested a field of their peers for the blue ribbon and the $7,500 Adult Jumper Classic win. They took the lead by one second, crossing the timers in a cool, clear 41.928 for the victory.

Second place went to East Islip, New York equestrian, Colm McGuckian, riding Rivercat. They stopped the clock fault-free in 42.865, just a second behind Mahoney for the ultimate second-place prize.

Kimberly Beattie of Mahwah, New Jersey returned to HITS-on-the-Hudson after having success as part of the Zone II winning team in the USHJA Children’s/Adult-Amateur Jumper Championships at HITS Saugerties week VII. Piloting the same mount, Charmander, Beattie rode to a clear round in 43.085, which would be good enough for third place.

Next place in the ribbons was earned by Courtney Becher of Chester, Connecticut and I Am What I Am, owned by Frederick Becher. Their time of 43.737 was just fractions of a second shy of Beattie’s, settling them in fourth.

Rounding out the top five was Margaret Cobb from Denellon, Florida piloting G. Padre Pio. They would earn the last clear round over the shortened course with a time of 46.285 for the fifth place prize.

$7,500 Children’s Jumper Classic
It was Carley McInerney’s time to shine in the $7,500 Children’s Jumper Classic and aboard her own Cittorio M. The Randolph, New Jersey equestrian did just that, taking home first place and a $2,250 check for the victory.

One of three competitors to go clear, McInerney stole the show with a lightning-fast round to capture the win by more than seven seconds over the abbreviated course. Carefully and thoughtfully, she and her mount left the course intact and crossed the timers in a time of 41.959.

Second place went to Annelise Silverstein of Boonton, New Jersey, riding her own Phoenix Rising. Conquering each fence and staying cool under pressure, the pair clocked in fault-free, but their time of 48.509 would ultimately not be fast enough to contend with McInerney’s.

Third place was awarded to Bailey Doloff of Sykesville, Maryland aboard Wishlea Star Dasher. They too would advance to the jump-off after a clear first round, but two unfortunate rails in the jump-off would settle them in third place.

Clifford Bell rode Prized Native to fourth place, with Anthony Merolillo aboard his own Perseus finishing in fifth place.

$1,500 Bit O’ Straw Hunter Classic
Day two of the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals was a good day for Mary Ann Zeira of Morristown, New Jersey and Take Five, owned by Hope Schwartz-Leeper. Besting a sizeable class of 67 competitors from up and down the East Coast, they steered their way to a $1,500 Bit O’ Straw Hunter Classic win with scores of 84 and 83, the highest in both rounds, for a winning total of 167.

Round one competition was challenging and most who found themselves in the top 12 to move on to round two, earned it with preliminary scores in the 80s and upper 70s.

Cora Schiavone rode to another prestigious ribbon, after taking the victory in Wednesday’s M&S 2’6” Adult Medal Final. She and her own Annabelle entered the second round with the second highest score of 82, earning an 81 in the final round for a total of 163, giving them the second-place prize.

Coming in just behind Schiavone was Kristin Dolan, who took home the final spot in the top five in Wednesday’s M&S Adult Medal Final. Dolan rode Nimmerot, owned by Meadow Creek Farm, to a first round score of 80, bringing them into the second round in fourth place. They pushed their way up the leaderboard by improving to an 82 in the final round for a total of 162, earning them third place.

Kimberly Pokstis of Warwick, New York and Hopes N Dreams, owned by Karen Ufret, brought home fourth place honors, and the top five finished with Anne Boyd of South Salem, New York aboard Rio Cirque De Soleil.

HITS Working Hunter 2’6” Professional
Melissa Feller and Serafino, owned by Elisabeth McFadden, were the HITS Working Hunter 2’6” Professional Champions, having received one blue ribbon Over Fences and second in the Under Saddle. Reserve Champion was Jennifer Gurney aboard Norwegian Wood.

HITS Working Hunter 2’6” Non-Professional
Jessica Connor piloted Rio Cirque du Soleil, owned by Anne Boyd, to the HITS Working Hunter 2’6” Non-Professional Championship, having earned blue ribbons in both of the Over Fences classes and third in the Under Saddle. Reserve Champion was Elspeth Roake and Uptown Girl, owned by Dawn Von Bernuth.

HITS Working Hunter 2’
The HITS Working Hunter 2’ Champion was Cara McFadden riding T. H. Johnny Bravo, owned by Green Hills Farm. They were first and third Over Fences. Reserve Champion was Annika Srivastava aboard Patriot, owned by Leslie Kogos.

Adequan Working Hunter
Leann Kelly and Escapade HS, owned by Jack Shainman, were crowned the Adequan Working Hunter Champions after placing first and second Over Fences and third in the Under Saddle. Reserve Champion was Leah Cruciani and her own Gombole.

Adult Working Hunter
Samantha Karp and Zentina B were the Champions of the Adult Working Hunter after placing fourth and first Over Fences and first Under Saddle. Reserve Champion was Contina, owned and ridden by Jacquelyn Maggiore.

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Jessica Springsteen Wins First CSI-5* in the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix

(C) ESI Photography. Jessica Springsteen and Cynar Va.

Saugerties, NY (September 12, 2016): As the sun set on the 2016 HITS Championship, horse sport royalty descended on the Hudson Valley for the nation’s highest ranked class of the year, the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix FEI-CSI 5*. Only one would be so lucky to return home with the big check and blue ribbon, and that one was none other than Jessica Springsteen aboard Cynar Va, owned by Stone Hill Farm. The victory marked the Wellington, Florida equestrian’s first CSI-5* win.

“It feels amazing to win this class. I’m really happy; this is my first five-star Grand Prix win,” said Springsteen. “My horse was feeling fresh this morning and was jumping around the course nicely, so I’m very pleased with the result today.”

Thousands of spectators filled the grandstand and hundreds more watched from the Legend VIP Club to get a glimpse of the historic event before them. The seventh annual $1 Million Grand Prix held in Saugerties attracted top riders from across the globe.

A top-notch field of riders and horses gave it a go over the course set by German course designer, Werner Deeg. It was evident as soon as the class began that the track demanded a high level of athletic ability and mental stamina, but it was true to Deeg’s plan: suit the movement of the horse.

“I have to thank Tom for inviting me and for putting the confidence in me to do this class, as well as the team I work with. All of the riders rode spectacularly,” said Deeg. “I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do for this class after watching the horses go throughout the week. This is a major class and I wanted to build something appropriate to that. For me it’s more important to implement the nature and movement of the horses in our courses.”

Six conquered the first round to advance to the jump-off, the greatest number of horses in the jump-off in the class’s history.

“It was a super class today with great sport. The top finishers all did an excellent job which certainly made for an exciting day, so my hat’s off to them,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “We’d like to see them come back again and compete in the Million next year. This was our first time working with Werner, and he came with the absolute highest credentials and lived up to all of them.”

First to re-enter for the high-intensity jump-off was Brandie Holloway of Topeka, Kansas piloting Lucky Strike, owned by Hays Investment Corp. An unfortunate rail would leave them with four faults as they crossed the finish in 52.18, which would claim the fastest time of the four-fault rounds for the ultimate third place prize.

“Lucky Strike started off as an equitation horse, and after purchasing him and owning him for a year, we learned that he was truly a jumper, so he hasn’t been doing the upper level jumpers for a terribly long time,” said Holloway. “I thought the course was one of the best courses I’ve jumped, and it wasn’t just for one horse’s style. Everybody all around had a level playing field.”

Following Holloway was Lauren Tisbo of Wellington, Florida and MR Visto, owned Tequestrian Farms, LLC. They powered through the course but would also be thwarted by a rail, turning in a 52.84-second round with four faults, giving them fourth place when the class was finished.

Four more competitors remained in the order, and it was anyone’s game. Next to contend was Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nassar riding Lordan, winner of the 2013 edition of the Saugerties Million. They too would have a rail as they stopped the clock in 52.97 for fifth place.

Catherine Tyree of Chicago, Illinois gave the crowd the first clear round of the jump-off aboard Enjoy Louis, owned by Joseph and Mary Tyree. They took to the course with power and precision, clearing each fence as they went. They cleared the last fence in 53.29 as the crowd erupted into applause, a round that would garner them the second place prize.

“I know this horse so well. I’ve had him for a year and a half now,” said Tyree. “I jumped him here on Wednesday so that he could go around and get into the ring, and he jumped great today. He’s such a fighter and has a huge heart, so I have full confidence in my finish today.”

Eugenio Garza Perez, riding out of Wellington, Florida, was next to contest the shortened course aboard Bariano, owned by El Milagro. He laid down a trip in 52.55, but eight faults would ultimately settle him into sixth place.

The final trip of the jump-off belonged to Jessica Springsteen, and the atmosphere was electric as the young equestrian entered the ring. A clear round was crucial, but she would have to be quicker than Tyree to take home a sweet slice of the million-dollar purse.

“This was my third jump-off with [Cynar Va], so I haven’t had that much experience going quick,” said Springsteen. “Today I just tried to keep it together when we stepped up to go a bit faster, but he was jumping unbelievable, so I knew I could take a little risk. It all worked out and I am thrilled to win this class.”

Springsteen and Cynar Va went all in. They took each turn with aggression and skill, then galloped home to cross the timers in 52.55 to capture the lead. The crowd stood and cheered in excitement as a new rider sealed her spot in the HITS $1 Million Grand Prix hall of fame.

“All of us at HITS are certainly happy with the result today; it was a terrific class and a great turn out of people who came out to watch the riders here,” said Struzzieri.

The HITS Championship marks the close of the eight week HITS Saugerties Series. The next event on the HITS competition schedule is the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals on September 14-18 at HITS-on-the-Hudson. The Marshall & Sterling Insurance League is a grassroots organization dedicated to providing competition for up-and-coming Children’s and Adult Hunter, Jumper and Equitation riders.

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The 2017 Nations Cup CSIO-4* Returns to HITS Ocala Winter Circuit for Third Year

Ocala, FL (September 3, 2016): HITS, Inc. is pleased to announce that the USEF Board of Directors has selected the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit as the host of the 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.

“Hosting the Nations Cup for the third straight year is an honor that we do not take lightly,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “It truly speaks for the quality of the event in Ocala for the past two years, and to be given the opportunity to host the Nations Cup again is very exciting for us.”

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 discipline.

HITS has already begun working with the Ocala and Marion County local government, councils, and related groups to ensure that the event garners the same level of attention and support that it has in previous years.

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

Consideration to host the prestigious event is reviewed by relevant USEF committees and the International Disciplines Council before advancing to the Board of Directors for the final decision.  HITS believes the success of the event the last two years, both in terms of rider reviews, and local support was key to USEF’s decision to bring the event to HITS Ocala again.

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.

HITS Ocala will host 12 USEF-rated shows during the 2016-2017 season, with the Ocala Holiday Series running for two weeks, December 1-4 and 14-18, 2016, and the Ocala Winter Circuit running for 10 weeks, January 17 – March 26. A total of four FEI events will be held, including the Nations Cup, from February 7 – March 5. The Circuit culminates with the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 26.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
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Culpeper Week V Grand Prix Round-Up

(C) ESI Photography. Harold Chopping and Basje.

Culpeper, VA (August 31, 2016): Riders and horses turned out for a weekend of big jumper prize money at HITS Commonwealth Park during the Constitution Classic in Week V for the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix and the $25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix.

$30,000 HITS Grand prix
Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina has been a consistent winner at HITS Culpeper this season, winning three Grand Prix and placing in the top five in every Friday and Sunday Grand Prix at HITS Commonwealth Park since April.

Week V proved to be no different for Chopping; after claiming second and third in Friday’s $25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix, Chopping returned on Sunday to win the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix. The victory came aboard Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington, earning the pair their fourth blue ribbon together at Culpeper this year.

“He’s a very talented horse, and is also very careful,” Chopping has said of the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.

Seven went clear over the first-round course designed by Manuel Esparza of Mexico City, Mexico and moved on to the jump-off. The first three trips would produce four faults each, including fifth-place Gavin Moylan of Middleburg, Virginia aboard Pernod, owned by Alpha Omega Farm. Moylan won the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix in Week II at HITS Culpeper. They clocked in at 44.053 with four faults.

Following Moylan was Andrea Torres Guerreiro, who would capture the first clear round in the shortened course. Guerreiro, of Waterford, Virginia powered through the course piloting Fifty Shades. They stopped the clock in 46.589, which would eventually garner them the second-place prize.

Three trips remained, and Manuel Torres was next to take the stage. Also riding out of Waterford, Virginia, Torres and his mount Christofolini H, owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro, passed the timers in a speedy 43.924, but an unfortunate rail at the A element of the mid-course combination would earn them fourth place.

Chopping and Basje were next to put their plan to the test. With a clear round in the books for Guerreiro, Chopping knew he had to be quick and clear, and also put down a fast enough trip to hold out for the one trip after them. They sped through the jump-off, taking each fence by storm and shaving time off the clock. They crossed the finish in a lightning-fast 41.413, five seconds ahead of Guerreiro.

Mary Lisa Leffler of Brookeville, Maryland had the final chance to take the glory. She and her ride, Bling Bling, owned by Rolling Acres, took to the course no holds barred in an attempt to catch Chopping’s speedy clear round. As the seconds ticked by, they powered towards the finish, but a heart-breaking rail at the second-to-last fence, and a time of 42.951, sealed their spot in third place.

$25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix
A new name topped the leaderboard at HITS Culpeper this season with Sloane Coles of The Plains, Virginia taking home the blue with Esprit, owned by The Springledge Group.

(C) ESI Photography. Sloane Coles and Esprit
(C) ESI Photography. Sloane Coles and Esprit

Eight challenged the shortened course in Friday’s $25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix, with four producing a clear jump-off round in contingency for the winning prize.

Southern Pines, North Carolina equestrian Harold Chopping was first to contend aboard his trusted gelding, Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington. As the first to go in the jump-off, they locked in a solid round in a quick, clear 32.690-second round and would make it out with the second place prize when the class was done.

Following Chopping was Manuel Torres riding Christofolini H, owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro. Coming off a $25,000 Brook Ledge Grand Prix and a $30,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix win at Culpeper in Week IV, Torres was ready to battle for the blue. A heart-breaking rail at the final fence earned the pair four faults, stopping the clock in 31.430 for the final spot in the top five.

Alexa Lowe-Wiseman of Upperville, Virginia and Synapse de Blondel, owned by Paillot Equine Consulting, were next to test the shortened course. They clocked in clear in 36.880, a cool, clear round that would ultimately earn them the fourth place prize.

The next clear round of the jump-off belonged to the victors, Coles and Esprit. They galloped through the course at a quick, unforgiving pace. The clocked in fault-free in 31.122, where the lead would remain.

Two trips went with no avail at topping Coles’ time. Chopping had the final round of the jump-off to try to edge her out.

Chopping competed with his second mount in the jump-off, Contefino 6, owned by Caroline Russell Howe and Lisa Tolnitch. They crossed the finish with all of the rails up, but their time of 32.860 was not enough to top Coles; they came within just two tenths of a second under Chopping’s own time with second-place ride Basje.

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