OCALA, FL (February 27, 2012) – Rolling Acres Farm scored a huge victory on Sunday when professional rider Mary Lisa Leffler and Rolling Acres’ Gerona 92 captured the win in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at the Ocala Masters. A returning Diamond Mills Hunter Prix rider, Leffler is well on her way to qualifying for the 2012 Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.
Forty-six horse-and-rider combinations prepared their Sunday best to compete over a first round course set by Ocala’s Doug Russell. After a first round score of 85 and a second round score of 84, Leffler, of Brookville, Maryland secured the win with a total of 169 points.
“This is one of the best classes offered each week in my opinion,” said Leffler, one of the most consistent and talented High-Performance riders to show in both hunters and jumpers. “It’s just a fun event for everyone – the riders, owners and the people that come and watch – everyone seems to enjoy it.”
Last year, Leffler found success in many Devoucoux Hunter Prix, earning several top ribbons at HITS Ocala and HITS Culpeper and the victory in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at the 2011 Ocala Tournament. The top ribbons earned her a spot at the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final last September where she and Zivago finished in tenth place overall.
“Competing at the Finals last year was an amazing opportunity,” said Leffler. “That was the first time we’ve ever been to Saugerties and we all enjoyed it there. I know we’re looking forward to being there again this year and my horse and I have so much history that it will be extra special showing together in that class.”
Leffler and Gerona 92 are no strangers to success together. They were an incredible team in the jumpers at the Grand Prix level for many years and qualified for prestigious indoor finals. After many years together, Gerona 92 was retired from Grand Prix action and continued earning ribbons in the Big Equitation with Leffler’s niece, Ashley Foster. Always a part of the Rolling Acres barn, Gerona 92 has found her new niche – the Hunters.
“I just think it’s incredible that this horse has gone from winning Grand Prix, winning Equitation and now winning in the Hunters,” said Leffler’s sister and Rolling Acres trainer Patty Foster. “It’s not always so common to see a horse cross over but Gerona 92 has always been special to us whether Mary has been showing or my daughter Ashley [Foster] and after all these years we’re just pleased with what we’ve accomplished. This horse will have a home forever with us.”
Fellow High-Performance riders Harold Chopping and Robin Fairclough rode their way to the ribbons as well. Chopping, of Southern Pines, North Carolina, finished on Sunday with the second place ribbon aboard Caroline Russell’s Caramo and also took fourth place in the $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard Kendra Bullington’s Patent Pending. Fairclough, of Newton, New Jersey placed third aboard Lisa Kerkorian’s Falcao. The duo captured the win in the first $2,500 Devoucoux Hunter Prix to kick off the unrated HITS Ocala Pre-Circuit earlier this winter.
“This was a good day for us,” said Fairclough. “The circuit has been good so far and I’m looking forward to showing this horse more this summer at Saugerties and qualifying for the [Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix] Final.”
Rounding out the top five was Bill Ellis of Ocala, Florida and Four Winds Farm’s Naturally in fourth place and Kathryn Mittauer of Middleburg, Florida aboard her own Allawishus in fifth place.
The win gave Leffler some leverage in the 2012 Rider Rankings for the Diamond mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final and hopes to make a second appearance in the class during HITS Championship Weekend September 7-9. While focused on getting qualified, Leffler and the entire Rolling Acres family remember to keep the competition fun.
“We just love being together at the shows,” said Foster. “We’ve been doing this our whole lives and we’ve never stopped making it fun over the years. This year has been great so far, all the horses are doing well.”
$5,000 HITS 3’ Hunter Prix
Junior and amateur riders looked to earn points towards the $250,000 HITS 3’ Hunter Prix Final on Saturday when 40 competitors took the field in the $5,000 HITS 3’ Hunter Prix.
Kimberly Maloomian of Needham, Massachusetts captured the blue ribbon aboard Urlala, owned by Terry S. Maloomian. Second and third place was awarded to Georgia Bloom of Morristown, New Jersey and her own Not Fade Away and the always consistent Jodi Czaplick of Ocala, Florida and her own Untold, respectively.
The HITS 3’ Hunter Prix has become one of the most popular hunter classics for junior and amateur riders this circuit and will undoubtedly find major success this spring and summer at HITS Saugerties and HITS Culpeper. Each class is a qualifier for the $250,000 HITS 3’ Hunter Prix Final, the richest junior and amateur Hunter class in the nation.
The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit continues this week with the Ocala Tournament and will offer another qualifier for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final on Sunday with the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix and the $250,000 HITS 3’ Hunter Prix Final on Saturday with the $1,500 HITS 3’ Hunter Prix.
Devoucoux, makers of fine French saddles, is proud to be the title sponsor of each and every qualifying Hunter Prix leading up to the phenomenal Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. The Devoucoux Hunter Prix will be a featured event at all HITS horse shows this season as riders from around the country set out to qualify for the second-annual Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, which will take place September 8-9 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
About Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern
Just 100 miles outside of New York City, nestled in the Village of Saugerties, Diamond Mills is a 30-room luxury hotel featuring stellar accommodations, fine-dining at The Tavern and full-service events at a state-of-the art Special Events Center. Diamond Mills is a proud member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an unsurpassed collection of over 520 luxury hotels around the world. Saugerties’ newest luxury hotel is also the proud sponsor of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, which will take place at HITS-on-the-Hudson as part of the HITS Championship Weekend. For more information about Diamond Mills or the special VIP packages available to HITS-on-the-Hudson exhibitors, please visit DiamondMillsHotel.com or call 845.247.0700.
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