Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hunters/Jumpers: Saugerties: HITS-on-the-Hudson Week I in Review

© ESI Photography.
McLain Ward and Oh' D Eole on course in Sunday's $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

HITS-on-the-Hudson I in Review: McLain Ward takes first step to defending his crown, Ellen Toon wins her second Devoucoux Hunter Prix, Exhibitors Party at Puttin’ Plus and a look ahead to HITS-on-the-Hudson II

SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (June 1, 2011) — Perfect weather and strong entries highlighted the first week of show jumping at HITS Saugerties as HITS-on-the-Hudson I drew rave reviews from exhibitors competing in the heart of the Hudson Valley.

Leading the way for High-Performance riders was the reigning Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward. Picking up where he left off last year, the Brewster, New York native rode his own Oh' D Eole to the blue ribbon in Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, as he took his first step to reclaiming his crown as champion of the Pfizer Million this fall.

Finishing in Sunday’s top three alongside Ward were Olympian Peter Leone of Greenwich, Connecticut in second and Germaine Edelmann of Rexford, New York in third. Edelmann had a strong season at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit and came to Saugerties with six of the eight Grand Prix needed to become eligible for the Pfizer Million. Edelmann was able to pick up two more Grand Prix as well as some great prize money and now enters the Pfizer Million Top 40 in the number 16 spot in the current Rider Rankings.

© ESI Photography.
Danielle Torano and Katina cruise to a victory in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
Earlier in the week, Danielle Torano of SW Ranches, Florida made her first step on the road to the Pfizer Million when she captured the win in Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard her own Katina.

“It’d be great to qualify for the Pfizer Million,” said Torano, after her win on Friday. “This was only my second Grand Prix ever on Katina and this was a great victory for us!"

Currently, HITS Thermal High-Performance rider Rich Fellers (Willsonville, Oregon) leads the way aboard Harry and Molly Chapman’s Flexible in the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix Rider Rankings. Teenage sensation Lucy Davis (Los Angeles, California) and Old Oak Farm’s Nemo 119 stands second, and the third spot belongs to HITS Ocala’s Tracy Magness (Baltimore, Maryland) and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko’s Tarco Van Ter Moude. However, with four crucial qualifiers remaining at HITS Saugerties this spring, the entire landscape could change before the HITS Saugerties Summer Series of horse shows comes rolling into town.
© ESI Photography.
HITS' Lisa Engel and Marshall & Sterling Insurance's Joey Norick congratulate Brianne Link after winning the $10,000 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic aboard her own Black Diamond.
The professional riders weren’t the only group of riders to excel in the Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix Stadium at HITS-on-the-Hudson I. Brianne Link (South Salem, New York) got the best of 56 starters in the $10,000 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic when she rode JT Farm’s Black Diamond to the triumph.

Tooning In! Ellen Toon leads the way for Hunters
As the top Grand Prix Riders from all over the world fight it out for a place in the starting field for the Pfizer Million, action in the hunter ring is becoming just as intense. With all eyes on the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, the stakes for hunters have never been higher, anywhere!
© ESI Photography.
Ellen Toon and Invincible on course in Saturday's $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
Amateur rider Ellen Toon of South Salem, New York is on the right track for becoming a part of the richest hunter class in the history of the sport thanks to an exciting win aboard her own Invincible in Saturday’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, where she beat out 64 other starters to take home the blue.

“We decided to come to these three weeks of shows with our entire barn,” said Toon. “This was my third [Devoucoux] Hunter Prix, so I should have my five classes by the end of the spring shows."

Toon and Invincible finished the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit strong with a second-place finish in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix during Week IV, followed by an exciting victory in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix during Week V when they beat out 70 other horse-and-rider combinations to take home the blue. Toon now has three of the five classes needed to qualify for the colossal Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final during Pfizer Million Weekend at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Currently, Mary Lisa Leffler and Zivago lead the way in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final Rider Rankings with Jane Gaston and her own Lumiere and Nick Haness and Carolyn Mittler’s Havana sitting second and third, respectively.

In other hunter action, Albany’s Stepping Stone Farm led the way during HITS-on-the-Hudson I. In the Low Hunter Division, professional rider Amy Momrow took the top prize aboard Hannah Patten’s Wolfgang as well as Reserve Champion honors in the irons of Jessica Pletka’s Blue Monday. In the Baby Green Hunters, fellow professional Shaine Brooks kept the winning streak alive for Stepping Stone Farm when she took Champion honors aboard Jerry Bilinski’s Close Encounter. Students Caroline Renker (USEF Medal), Mary Abbruzzese (USEF Talent Search Medal) and Tess Renker (Adult Equitation) each scored major triumphs in equitation action for the Albany, New York barn, as well.

Party Time!
Hundreds of people flocked to the first exhibitor party of the season at Puttin’ Plus and were treated to free go-kart rides, miniature golf, batting cages and laser tag! HITS-on-the-Hudson is sure to keep exhibitors quite busy as the social calendar is packed with plenty of out-of-the-ring fun! This Thursday evening, the HITS Sip and Sail will take place on The Teal, as exhibitors have a chance to watch the sunset aboard HITS’ Official Charter Yacht on the Hudson River. Then on Saturday, the annual Taste of HITS restaurant showcase will take place at the horse show from noon to 2pm in the Pavilion. This popular event is sure to be a crowd pleaser as area eateries will come to the show grounds with samples from their menus.

What’s on Tap?
Show jumping will continue this week with HITS-on-the-Hudson II, as High-Performance riders will have two more opportunities to qualify for the Pfizer Million with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, which will serve as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Friday, June 3. Then on Sunday, June 5 the stakes get even higher with the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Hunters will have their next opportunity to qualify for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final on Saturday afternoon with the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.

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 Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

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