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.