McLain Ward and Dulien Van De Smeets Top 38 in $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

©ESI Photography. McLain Ward and Dulien Van De Smeets fly to a win in Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix.

SAUGERTIES, NY (July 26, 2014) – When McLain Ward climbed down from the tack of Dulien Van De Smeets after winning the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix presented by Zoetis, he didn’t look for congratulations, but marched straight to the mare’s owner, his godmother. Susie Heller stood clutching a winner’s trophy and was scooped up by Ward’s embrace.

Every win is special, but this was divinely special. This week marked the one-month anniversary of James Heller’s passing. “Jimmy” was Susie’s brother, friend to Ward and part owner in Dulien Van De Smeets. For Ward, of Brewster, New York, there was no better way to honor him than to bring home a win.

“She [Dulien] won this for him,” Ward said. “He was a horse lover and the three of us had been looking for a jumper for some time. Finally, Dulien Van De Smeets came along.”

The 10-year-old mare was imported from Belgium by Ward and Heller in February, and had a banner spring and early summer. “Today, she picked up right where she left off,” said Ward. “The starting field was stacked and the course challenging, but this horse is powerful and did everything I asked her despite not being the most experienced.”

Dulien Van De Smeets jumped 1.30-1.40m in Europe and even had a couple foals, but has found a home with Ward as an up-and-coming grand prix horse. “Great horses make my job that much easier,” he added.

“McLain was outstanding, but the whole class was perfect,” said course designer Bernardo Cabral of Lisbon, Portugal. “It was all in the details. I don’t like races; I like courses that ask the riders to be smart.”

Cabral put every inch of the expansive Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix Stadium to use with 12 obstacles, including water, a vertical split to provide an inside-outside skinny option and a technical triple combination at the second-to-last effort. He will also set Sunday’s $75,000 HITS Grand Prix as the stakes continue to climb at HITS Saugerties. “The jumps will go up and oxers gain width,” he hinted. “Saugerties’ grand prix ring is one of the more beautiful in the world – the size is perfect and allows spectators a head-on perspective of the jumps from any seat.”

With a field of 38 competitive starters, ten made it to the jump off. Mary Manfredi of South Salem, New York returned first, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 50.39 seconds aboard Great Span, LLC’s Magnus Orfeo. The lead changed hands once to Peter Lutz of Golden Bridge, New York and Katherine Gallagher’s Carneyhaugh Manx before Ward took the stage. Channeling Dulien Van De Smeets’ speed and strength, Ward was gentle and patient without losing any time on the clock. They bested the field in 46.61 seconds for the win.

Lutz held tight to second while Christine McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut and Wannick WH were third for owner Candy Tribble in 49.50 seconds. Manfredi was bumped to fourth while Cody Auer of Wellington, Florida rounded out the top five in 51.23 seconds aboard his own Zorana.

With Week V well underway, qualifying for the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at the HITS Championship September 7, is heating up. Grand prix qualifying opportunities will continue throughout the HITS Saugerties Circuit. This Sunday, the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix presented by Zoetis takes the stage in the Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix Stadium. The event will be live via webcast at or

©ESI Photography. Laura Chapot and Umberto on their way to a win in the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
©ESI Photography. Laura Chapot and Umberto on their way to a win in the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome

$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
Laura Chapot and Umberto were perfect together to win the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome on Wednesday and kick off Week V at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey and her 13-year-old KWPN gelding, owned by Mary Chapot, topped a field of 30 in the 1.40m win to cash a $2,800 check.

Hugh Graham of Reddick, Florida and Airborne, owned by Julie Firestone, were second with Amy Momrow of Wellington, Florida third in the irons of Monty Kelly’s Baldino Du Rouet. Ronan McGuigan of Far Hills, New Jersey jumped to fourth aboard his own Capall Zidane and Johnathan McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut rounded out the top five with Aristoteles V for owner Candy Tribble.

Brook Ledge Horse Transportation will continue to present a weekly jumper class throughout the HITS Saugerties summer and fall shows. Aside from the winner’s purse, Brook Ledge Open Welcome riders also compete for the Brook Ledge Rider Bonus, which includes a $1,500 shipping credit for the rider who accumulates the most points in those classes throughout the circuit.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

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