HITS Working Hunters Kick Things Off at the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals

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©ESI Photography. Heather Caristo guides Splash to a HITS Working Hunter – Professional Championship

SAUGERTIES, NY (September 12, 2012) – The first day of the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals at HITS-on-the-Hudson hinted at an exciting week forthcoming. Competition got underway this morning in the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium as HITS Working Hunters, both Professional and Non-Professional strutted their stuff.

Heather Caristo comes off a big week to win the HITS Working Hunter – Professional
After riding in last week’s Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final at HITS Saugerties, Heather Caristo of Saugerties, New York didn’t slow down one bit, returning to the ring today to take Champion in the HITS Working Hunter – Professional division.

Caristo pocketed a pair of 84s in each of two over fences classes and rode to first place in the under saddle to sweep the blues and easily earn championship honors. She piloted Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Caristo’s six-year-old Hanoverian gelding Splash to the top spot.

“I had never ridden him in the grand prix ring before today and I expected him to be good, but he exceeded my expectations,” said Caristo. “He went like a dream and I had so much fun – it’s really amazing to be able to do the hunters in that ring.”

After riding into the top 25 in the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final this past weekend, Caristo made her return to the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium with some extra minutes of experience in the big ring.

“I rode a pre-green horse in the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix last week and it was a great introduction to the space and the footing,” she added.

Taking Reserve Champion was Brian Feigus of Colts Neck, New Jersey with Emily Regan’s Amoré Casini. He was hot on the heels of Caristo with an 81 and an 83 to finish second in both over fences classes. He then finished in seventh in the under saddle to take Reserve Champion honors.

Kelly Ross wishes her trainer a very happy birthday by taking Champion in the HITS Working Hunter – Non-Professional
Kelly Ross of Southampton, New Jersey delivered her trainer Nancy Bloom the perfect birthday gift today – Champion honors in the HITS Working Hunter – Non-Professional. She rode to a score of 78 to top 17 horses in the first class and a 78.5 to finish second in the second class in the irons of Bloom’s 14-year-old OTTB Chance It. Ross then piloted the chestnut gelding to sixth place in the under saddle to secure the victory.

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©ESI Photography. Kelly Ross and Chance It on course during the HITS Working Hunter – Non-Professional

“He was perfect – he really loves the big ring,” said Ross, who is riding in her third Marshall & Sterling League National Finals. “I really like trying to qualify for the Finals.  It makes the year a little bit more exciting and gives us one more thing to aim for.”

Bloom purchased Chance It ten years ago in a situation very fitting to his name.

“I saw him jog the distance of one shed row and said, ‘I’ll take him’,” she admitted. “We really love bringing him here – it’s a nice goal to look forward to. Kelly deserves every minute of this – she works very hard, takes amazing care of the horses and has really become quite a sophisticated rider in the past few years.”

Jessica Rosenwasser of New York, New York finished eighth in the first over fences class, but returned with a score of 81 to win the second. She then rode to fifth place in the under saddle to earn Reserve Champion aboard Mike Rosenwasser’s Remember When.

Marshall & Sterling League National Finals action continues tomorrow as jumpers take the stage in the $7,500 Junior/Amateur, Adult and Children’s Jumper Classics, while one hunter rider will also be honored with the Adequan Hunter Championship. Then, the $1,500 Bit O’ Straw Hunter Classic will be the featured event of the afternoon.

About Marshall & Sterling League
The Marshall & Sterling League was designed to enhance the level of competition for children and adult riders, with an opportunity to qualify for a prestigious National Finals competition. Now celebrating their 22nd year, the Marshall & Sterling League features 14 divisions of competition. Riders who are members of the League had the opportunity to earn points throughout the year by competing in Marshall & Sterling classes in order to qualify for the Marshall & Sterling League Finals, held at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

The Marshall & Sterling League is proudly sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc. Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc., founded in 1864, is among the largest privately owned insurance agencies in the United States. For more than a quarter century, Marshall & Sterling has protected precious equine assets with unparalleled service and support, whether the family hunter, a champion racehorse or a commercial farm. An employee-owned company, Marshall & Sterling is recognized throughout the nation as a leader in providing exceptional service and support. The company maintains a national presence and is licensed in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information contact Joe Norick at 800-333-3766, extension 270 or 805-338-0099, or Margaret Barese at 800-836-3046, extension 288.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
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