Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hunters: HITS: Desert Circuit II in Review: Fellers Strikes it Rich, Sonoma Valley Stables Shines in $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, and Pfizer Honors the High-Performance Riders at HITS Thermal

© Flying Horse Photography.
Rich Fellers and Flexible captured first place in Saturday night’s $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

For Immediate Release
February 8, 2011
THERMAL, CA (February 8, 2011)-Rich Fellers (Wilsonville, Oregon) put an exclamation point on Desert Circuit II when he rode Harry and Mollie Chapman's McGuinness to the blue ribbon in Sunday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.

Winning Sunday's feature class was icing on the cake for Fellers who, less than 24 hours earlier, captured Saturday night’s $50,000 Strongid C 2X CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard Harry and Mollie Chapman's Flexible.

In Sunday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, Fellers and McGuinness were the top horse-and-rider team out of a group of 37 starters that challenged International Course Designer Bernard Cabral's (Lisbon, Portugal) first-round track and the six that advanced to the short course.

Cabral's first-round track featured 13 fences with a time allowed of 88 seconds. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Westlake Village, California) was first to show and didn't waste any time, showing the rest of the pack how it was done when she went clear aboard Octavia Farm's Lancaster 144. One trip later, Hap Hansen (Encinitas, California) and Linda Smith's Archie Bunker ensured there would be a jump-off with a clear round of their own, as the crowd settled in for what was sure to be an exciting afternoon class in the Strongid C 2X Stadium.

The first round appeared to be challenging as the course produced rails at 12 of the 13 obstacles along the way. Saer Coulter (San Francisco, California) and Copernicus Stables' Cash 51, Kyle King (Ocala, Florida) and Corrine Super's Capone I, Karen Cudmore (Omaha, Nebraska) and Blair Cudmore's Shea, and Fellers and McGuinness each were able to navigate the course successfully and advance to the jump-off.

In a rare turn of events, each of the six teams that advanced to the jump-off produced double-clear rounds, making it a race for time with Fellers finishing at the top of the heap! Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Lancaster 144 were first to go in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 46.722 seconds.

The next two teams to follow Michaels-Beerbaum were Hansen aboard Archie Bunker and Coulter aboard Cash 51. Both riders gave it their all but ultimately they were too slow to push Michaels-Beerbaum from the top of the chart. When the class was complete, Hansen and Coulter finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Kyle King and Corrine Super's Capone I were fourth to go in the jump-off and became the new leaders, racing through the timers 44.708 seconds. At the end of the class, they finished in third place.

Fellers and McGuinness were fifth in the jump-off order and came all the way home clean making the dash for the cash in 44.272 seconds to take the lead and eventually secure the blue ribbon.

The enviable last-to-go spot belonged to Cudmore and Shea. The pair gave it their all, crossing the timers in 45.952 finishing just off the pace set by Fellers and had to settle for second place.

When all was said and done, Michaels-Beerbaum finished in fourth place.

For complete results from Sunday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, click here.

Jumping Jayne!

Earlier in the week, Charlie Jayne (Elgin, Illinois) got the party started for Grand Prix riders on Thursday night when he rode The London Group's Athena to the blue ribbon in the $31,000 HITS Welcome Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Jayne, who usually winters in South Florida, is in the desert looking to earn a return trip to the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix that will take place at HITS-on-the-Hudson on Sunday, September 11.

"I came to Thermal for a couple of reasons," said Jayne. "I was so grateful to HITS and the sponsors for last year’s Pfizer Million that I wanted to come here and try to get a head start on qualifying for this year’s class.”

Jayne has completed two of the eight Grand Prix needed to become eligible for the Pfizer Million. With 11 more Grand Prix offered at the HITS Desert Circuit, including three more this week with Desert Circuit III, Jayne and the rest of the High-Performance riders in Thermal will have plenty of opportunities to become eligible.

Watch and Learn!

Thanks to his performance at Desert Circuit II, Fellers catapulted himself into the top three in this year’s race for the Catena Leading Grand Prix Rider Award. The standings for this prestigious award are based on points, not money won. Canadian Olympian John Pearce leads the way with 32 points and currently sits ahead of Fellers and Jayne, who each have 20 points.

The Catena Leading Grand Prix Rider will be honored during the Parade of Champions on Sunday, March 13, and will receive a beautiful timepiece from Catena to celebrate their Grand Prix success at this year’s Desert Circuit.

The time-honored standards of Swiss-watch making excellence have been synonymous with Catena since 1950. Catena continues that tradition by combining Swiss craftsmanship and artistry with the latest technology to design a collection of truly unique equestrian timepieces. For more information on Catena, please visit www.catenausa.com.

Sonoma Valley's Sweep!

It's no secret that Hope Glynn (Petaluma, California) is planning on making HITS Saugerties her destination this fall when the Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final takes place at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York during Pfizer Million Weekend.

The veteran hunter rider is on track to become one of the top contenders to compete in this extraordinary new Hunter Final. Glynn dominated the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix on Sunday afternoon when she rode Sabrina Hellman's Woodstock to a first-place finish and piloted two other horses to third and fifth place.

"Our goal is to make it to HITS Saugerties for the Final," said Hellman. " I think he is meant for these Devoucoux classes."

With the victory and two of the five classes needed to become eligible, Glynn seems to be on the right track to qualify for the Final. In order to become eligible for the Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final a rider on any horse/horses will need to compete in five or more Devoucoux Hunter Prix at any combination of HITS Shows during the qualifying period. Once a rider has competed in five Devoucoux Prix, they will become eligible and their points on their leading horse will place them in the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final Rider Rankings. For more information on the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, including complete qualifying specifications, please click here.

Desert Circuit II was a standout week of competition for Hayley Giddings. Under the watchful eye of trainers Richard Slocum and Nick Haness of Hunterbrook Farm, the 13-year-old racked up the ribbons aboard Pegasus Show Stable Inc.’s Swingtown when she won the $500 Marshall & Sterling Pony Hunter Classic on Sunday and was named the Champion in the Medium Pony Hunters. Giddings also earned Champion in the Schooling Pony Hunter Medium aboard Emily Latchford’s Darling Clementine, Reserve Champion in the Schooling Pony Hunter Large with McKenna Skelton’s Bestseller, Reserve Champion in the Equitation 12-13 aboard Alexis Graves’ Posh and tied for Reserve Champion in the Adequan Hunter aboard Ashley Codillos’ Dinner for Two.

For complete results from Desert Circuit II, click here.

Great Groom!

Reuben Herrera, of Sonoma Valley Stables, was presented this week’s Odor-No-More Groom’s Award for the overall cleanliness and appearance of the barn. The area was inspected by members of the HITS staff and Herrera received an engraved trophy and a sample bag of Odor-No-More.

Odor-No-More Products are eco-friendly solutions which provide animal owners the ability to save time and money maintaining their animal’s enclosures. The products consist of a proprietary blend of micro-nutrient salts that are commonly found in animal feed supplements and hoof care products, to safely eliminate odors and wetness. For more information on Odor-No-More, please visit www.odornomore.com.

Fun with Pfizer!

On Friday evening, the top Grand Prix riders from the HITS Desert Circuit were honored at a special reception at Morgan’s in the Desert restaurant at the La Quinta Resort & Club. Guests enjoyed a night of fun and dined on a bounty of delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by Morgan’s star chef Jimmy Schmidt, complemented by a selection of California red and white wines.

Guests included, Markus Beerbaum, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Canadian Olympian Lisa Carlsen and California's own Joie Gatlin, just to name a few.

What's on Deck?

Show jumping at the HITS Desert Circuit resumes today with Desert Circuit III and features three Grand Prix presented by Pfizer Animal Health that will serve as crucial qualifiers for the Pfizer Million. Thursday night’s $31,000 HITS Welcome Classic will double as the first of three qualifiers for the European Youngster Cup, while Saturday night’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix will be the second of four FEI World Cup Qualifiers to take the stage at HITS Thermal. Sunday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix brings the action back outside for an afternoon High-Performance show down.

For hunter riders, the stakes are raised when the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix takes the stage on Friday night in the Strongid C 2X Stadium.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final, September 10 -11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

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

Media should contact the HITS Media Team at 845.246.8833 or e-mail Media_Info@HitsShows.com.

© Flying Horse Photography.
Rich Fellers and McGuinness in Sunday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

© Flying Horse Photography.
Charlie Jayne and The London Group's Athena on course in Thursday's $31,000 HITS Welcome Classic, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.

© Flying Horse Photography.
Hope Glynn aboard Woodstock in Sunday’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.

© Flying Horse Photography
Reuben Herrera, of Sonoma Valley Stables, was the winner of this week’s Odor-No-More Groom’s Award at HITS Thermal

©HITS Staff
Markus Beerbaum, Saer Coulter, Charlie Jayne and Lucy Davis at the Pfizer High-Performance Rider Reception at Morgan's in the Desert.

Photo Provided
The Exclusive Top Dog Award for Desert Circuit II was awarded to Mushroom, owned by Lisa Baldassari of Hap Hansen Stables.

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