Young star Taylor McMurtry won her first Grand Prix ever aboard her own Just An Illusion last Sunday in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. With this win, McMurtry proves she is back on the road to becoming one of the qualified pairs to compete in the 2011 installment of the Pfizer Million.
"I graduated from high school last year and I planned to take a year off to focus on showing," said McMurtry, who is a working student for High-Performance rider Aaron Vale. "To show again in the [Pfizer] Million would be such a great achievement. That was a really special class for us last year to be a part of with all of those great riders in it. To compete alongside them was something I'll never forget. I've already accomplished one of my goals for this year, by winning my first Grand Prix! My next goal is to qualify for the Pfizer Million again!"
McMurtry now has two of the eight Grand Prix needed to become eligible, and $15,000 in prize money on her leading horse. For a look at the current Pfizer Million Rider Rankings, please click here.
© ESI Photography.
Taylor McMurtry and Just An Illusion on course in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix
The announcement of the Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final, that will coincide with this year's Pfizer Million, has captured the imagination of hunter riders who never dreamed of competing for a purse of that magnitude. That excitement can be felt throughout the show grounds at HITS Post Time Farm as nearly everyone has that class on their radar.
After a win in the $2,500 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at the Ocala January Classic I, seasoned veteran Kelley Farmer returned for the rated circuit and outshined 52 competitors in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix to claim the victory on Sunday, aboard Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare's Czech. Farmer has competed in two of the five required Devoucoux Hunter Prix classes in order to qualify for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final andcurrently sits in the top three of the current Rider Rankings with 116 points on her leading mount Czech.
Cathy Inch of Ontario, Canada and Katriina Ruotsalo's Rainier has earned a total of 135 points thanks to two second-place finishes and one seventh-place finish in three graceful outings at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. This duo currently enjoys the number two spot in the Rider Rankings for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, behind California's Hope Glynn.
Canada's Billie Derouet captured the win in the $7,500 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic on Sunday aboard her own Sweet Dreams. Standout junior Michael Hughes secured the second and third place ribbons aboard Shockwave, owned by Drumnacross Farm, LTD; and Amanda Gunthel's Caleo Z.
Hughes managed to find his way to the winner's circle on Sunday when he captured the win in the $5,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Medium Classic aboard Wullisina, owned by Drumnacross Farm, LTD. Derek Petersen's students rounded out the top three in that class when Jared Petersen aboard Derek Petersen's Acts placed second and Jordan Coyne aboard her own Corino placed third.
The Marshall & Sterling League proudly welcomed the well established and competitive Junior/Amateur Jumper Low division to their list of Final divisions this year. This exciting addition is a great opportunity for junior and amateur riders to reach the same year-end goals that are available for child and adult riders in select Marshall & Sterling divisions. Seventeen juniors started last Sunday off in the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Junior Jumper Low Classic as youngster Haley Waters picked up the first and second place prizes aboard Chuck and Dana Waters' Rocky and Latina, respectively. Catherine Wachtell finished third aboard her own VDL Las Vegas.
The $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Amateur Jumper Low Classic followed after the juniors on Sunday as Courtney Frederick and Soulstice, owned by Equestrian Investments, LLC, outshined 25 competitors. Joy Slater had two impressive trips and placed second and third aboard Fat Chance Farm's Pisano and Silvester, respectively.
Catena Leading Rider
Tracy Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude lead the way in the Catena Leading Rider Standings after several ribbons and a win in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at the Ocala January Festival. Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude also won the Catena Leading Rider Award at the 2009 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Second in the standings is Andres Rodriguez and Davinci, the winners of the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at the Ocala January Classic. Silvio Mazzoni and Remonta Habano sit in third thanks to their win in last Thursday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. With 10 more Grand Prix events left in the season, there's still plenty of time for High-Performance riders to climb the ranks of the Catena Leading Rider Standings.
Tracy Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude in the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at the Ocala Winter Classic.
Odor-No-More Groom's Award
The weekly Odor-No-More Groom's Award was awarded to Chris Eguia of Riverstone Farm in Garrison, New York."Chris has worked for me for several years and he takes such pride in his work," said Riverstone Farm owner and head trainer Kim Perlman. "From the cleanliness of the barn to the turn out of the horses. He is very deserving of this award, as are all the grooms at Riverstone."
Missed the Grand Prix? That's OK! This season you can now watch every Grand Prix at HITS on Galopando TV at www.galopandotv.com, either live during the event for a small fee, or after the event for no charge. At any time throughout the year, viewers can watch select competitions from HITS Ocala.
This and That!
The all-new Overlook VIP Club is all the talk at the Circuit! This fabulous new VIP experience is a huge upgrade and tables are going quick. On Sunday, HITS VIP Restaurant Partner La Cuisine, Ocala's premier French cuisine restaurant, catered the first VIP Luncheon at the all-new Overlook Club. Patrons enjoyed a menu of delicious specialties as the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, unfolded right before them.
Arthur's Restaurant at the Hilton Ocala hosted the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit Sponsor Welcome Reception last Thursday. Official HITS sponsors enjoyed a fun and vibrant cocktail reception that included Chef Randal's signature dishes.
Next at the In-Gate
The Ocala Winter Festival continues this week and will be highlighted by the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health on Thursday, February 17, the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix Final on Sunday, February 20. All Grand Prix and Devoucoux Hunter Prix events this season are qualifiers for the 2011 Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final, which will take place September 10-11 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
It's time for Mardi Gras! This Friday, stop by the HITS Restaurant for a Mardi Gras Exhibitor Party from 6:30 to 8pm. Enjoy food, music and friends after a day at the show ring which will prove to be a wonderful time for everyone.
For more information on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, or to request a prize list, please visit HitsShows.com or call 845.246.8833.