Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jumping: Ocala: HITS: Germany’s Andre Thieme Captures His Second Grand Prix Win of the Season in the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, Presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Ocala

© ESI Photography.
Andre Thieme and Coco 135 on course in the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida.
OCALA, FL (March 15, 2011)--On a perfectly beautiful afternoon at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida, German show-jumping icon Andre Thieme riding Seth Vallhonrat's Coco 135 captured the victory in Sunday's $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, to close out the Ocala Finals. Thieme's win marked the first time this season that a rider captured more than one victory in a Sunday Grand Prix, his first being aboard his own Cesar three weeks ago in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at the Ocala Winter Festival.

Thieme is no stranger to the winner's circle. Rapidly making a name for himself as a top rider competing in the United States, he's built a solid reputation at HITS shows, nationwide, in a very short time. At the 2010 Ocala Masters, he and Cesar won the $75,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Thieme also traveled west to compete at the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California, that same year and placed fifth aboard Aragon Rouet in the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix, presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach, which helped to cement his spot in the top 20 of the 2010 Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix Rider Rankings. Last September, Thieme traveled back from Germany to compete in the Pfizer Million and placed ninth aboard Aragon Rouet, collecting $15,000 in prize money. This year, with six of the eight Grand Prix needed to become eligible, he is once again on a path to qualify for the 2011 Pfizer Million, a clear goal for him as his winnings continue to grow.

"The course was a perfect combination of technicality and height," said Thieme. "The three double combinations made it tough. The oxer, oxer combination to the last jump, the big orange vertical heading towards the gate, was really tough."

Thieme was one of 43 starters on a course designed by International Course Designer Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico, and showed three different mounts in the class. At the end of the first round, seven returned for the jump-off.

Tracy Magness of Hughsville, Maryland and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko's Tarco Van Ter Moude were fourth to return in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 45.73 seconds. Thieme returned for the short course two trips later and posted a clear effort in a blazing 42.51 seconds to capture the lead, which would stand for the remainder of the jump-off.

"I think my first ride would have won it if it weren't for the last jump in the first round," Thieme explained of his ride aboard Uvalier. "So when I rode Coco [135], I added a stride and settled it back a bit and made it clear. This is a very fast horse, so we tried hard to go fast and clear in the jump-off."

Rounding out the top three was Isabelle LaPierre aboard Vicki Vale, owned by La Chaudiere Farm, who had the only other double clear round of the class.

The $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, was the premier event to highlight Purina Mills Weekend at HITS Ocala, which also included a special Purina Mills exhibitor party and the ever-popular annual Purina Mills Kids Day, presented by Local Edge, on Sunday afternoon prior to the start of the Grand Prix. As part of the all-new Riders Incentive Bonus available to Grand Prix riders who use Purina Mills feed and win a Purina Mills-sponsored Grand Prix at HITS horse shows this year, Thieme was also awarded a TON of free Purina Mills feed.

"I thought it was a really excellent event," said Ty Springer, Equine Specialist for Purina Mills. "I appreciate all the help from HITS in making this weekend a special time for everyone involved. It was great to see some of our sponsored riders, such as Aaron Vale, do so well. I'm happy Andre [Thieme] celebrated a big win today. Since Thieme feeds his horses Purina Mills feed, we're happy to award him the Purina Mills Rider Incentive Award and give his horses the fuel they need to make it to the Pfizer Million."

© ESI Photography.
Seth Vallhonrat, Ty Springer, Equine Specialist Purina Mills with his sons and representatives from Purina Mills Florida, and HITS' Lisa Engel presented the awards, a cooler courtesy of Shires Equestrian Products, and a bottle of Chardonnay, courtesy of Sonoma Cutrer, to Andre Thieme and Coco 135 in the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
Thieme is the second HITS rider to win a Purina Mills-sponsored Grand Prix and their all-new Rider Incentive Bonus. Three weeks ago at the HITS Desert in Thermal, California Mark Watring earned himself a TON of feed when he finished on top in the $50,000 Purina Mills CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. The next chance for riders to score this hefty rider bonus will be this spring at HITS Saugerties in the $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

With the win, Thieme has $23,500 in prize money aboard his leading mount Coco 135 and needs just two more Grand Prix in order to become eligible for the Pfizer Million. He currently sits in the number eight spot in the preliminary Pfizer Million Rider Rankings, while Magness has her eight Grand Prix and sits in the number three spot with nearly $50,000 in prize money won aboard Tarco Van Ter Moude. The landscape of the Rider Rankings will surely morph even more after this week’s competition in Ocala puts a bow on the 2011 HITS Winter Circuit and the first phase of the Pfizer Million qualifying season.

This week, the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit will celebrate its season finale, as High-Performance riders plan to leave their mark on an already memorable season. Grand Prix action begins Thursday with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Then on Sunday, the biggest event of the season, the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, will cap-off the six week AA-rated circuit as the road to the Pfizer Million makes its final pass through Ocala before heading north to HITS Culpeper and Saugerties.
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.

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