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Francois Lamontagne and Anton on course in the $50,000 Ring Power Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
OCALA, FL (March 7, 2011) -- Diversity seems to be the theme this season at HITS Ocala, as 10 different winners representing six different nations have claimed the victory in each of the 10 Grand Prix held at HITS Ocala, so far. In Sunday's $50,000 Ring Power Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, Canada's Francois Lamontagne joined the list of this season's winners aboard his own Anton.
"This circuit is great, it does not discourage horses and riders, it encourages them," said Lamontagne. "I build a lot of good, young horses here."
Danny Foster of Canada designed a course that saw only two riders advance to the jump-off. Lamontagne went toe-to-toe with HITS Ocala veteran Laura Linback of Mundelin, Illinois, aboard Woodrun's Uppsala, who set the pace with four faults in 54.26 seconds.
"You know, it wasn't that easy," Lamontagne admitted. "I've been here since the Pre-Circuit weeks and even though my horse has been jumping really well, it was still tough. The vertical to the oxer to the vertical, all downhill, were tough."
Lamontagne and Anton left all the fences intact but suffered two time faults, which secured their victory. "Although Laura had a rail, I didn't want to just go in and be careful," said Lamontagne. "I knew if I went a little too slow, and ended up dropping the last rail, I wasn't going to win it. I needed to be slick and that plan turned out perfectly."
Rounding out the top three was the fastest four fault team of Tracy Magness of Hughsville, Maryland and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko's Tarco Van Ter Moude, who've had another stellar season at HITS Ocala.
Lamontagne and 11 year-old Belgian Warmblood Anton have had an impressive career since their start in 2008. Dominating the Eastern Canadian Talent Squad, the team had their biggest win in 2010 when they captured the $60,000 World Cup Qualifier at Jumping International Blainville. "He's been really good and keeps getting better," he said. Aside from his High-Performance ventures, Lamontagne has also built a reputable career in the Young Jumper divisions.
Lamontagne's win marked the first Sunday title for a Canadian rider at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit this season which has crowned a different Grand Prix winner each week of the circuit, an unusual occurrence given the history of repeat winners in Ocala.
At the HITS Ocala Pre-Circuit, Venezuela's Andres Rodriguez got the winter started when he won the first $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. The following week, Tracy Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude reminded everyone why they're one of the best teams in the sport, when they took home the win in the second $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
The start of AA rated HITS Ocala Winter Circuit saw a flood of competitors, with record-breaking entries. Silvio Mazzoni, originally of Argentina, enjoyed his first Ocala Grand Prix win aboard Remonta Habano in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. It appears to be a season of firsts, as Taylor McMurtry, aboard her own Just An Illusion, followed with her very first Grand Prix win in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, that same week. This season at HITS Ocala McMurtry is also the youngest competitor to win a Grand Prix.
During the Ocala Winter Festival, show jumping sensation Kent Farrington made his return to Ocala and picked up a win in the Thursday SmartPak Grand Prix aboard Up Chiqui, while German icon Andre Thieme captured his first Sunday win of the season that same week aboard Cesar in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
HITS Ocala veteran David Beisel claimed his first victory of the season the next week in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix aboard Always Culohill, while Colombian Olympian Manuel Torres and Chambacunero secured the first-place purse in the $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, to close out the Ocala Masters.
This past week, Ocala veterans proved that they're still here to win when Texas' Tracy Fenney and MTM Centano found their way to victory in Thursday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
The mix of seasoned veterans and rising stars claiming big wins this season in Ocala is a testament to the excitement and support that High-Performance riders have shown towards HITS Ocala and particularly, the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. This historic, epic event has become a goal for riders across the world, as the competition at HITS shows nationwide continues to see tremendous growth from riders on their quest to qualify.
While the United States, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Germany and Canada have all been made proud this season, four Grand Prix remain at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit for High-Performance riders to leave their mark on the 2011 season. The $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, will highlight this week at the Ocala Winter Finals. The competition heats up next week with the Ocala Winter Celebration, where High-Performance riders will have their last chance of the winter to capture prize money in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health and the mega $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group.
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!