|© ESI Photography.|
McLain Ward and Oh' D Eole on course in the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist of Brewster, New York, outshined 28 starters on Sunday’s course designed by Danny Foster of Canada.
“It’s been incredible. [Oh' D Eole] is really gaining a lot of momentum in the Grand Prix ring and this circuit has been great for us so far” said Ward. “Danny [Foster] has always been consistent with building good courses and proved that again today with a really nice track.”
Foster’s first-round course proved difficult as nearly half the 28-entry class fell victim to his double and triple combinations. The course did not see a clear round until the eighth go, when Ward posted a time of 87.380 seconds – 4.619 seconds faster than the time allowed. Overall, the course only produced three clear rounds. Isabelle LaPierre of Breakeyville, Quebec, Canada in the irons of La Chaudiere Farm’s Vicki Vale joined Ward and posted the second clear round after 13 unsuccessful trips. Darragh Kerins of Wellington, Florida on Miranda Fischer’s Hot Wheels joined Ward and LaPierre in the jump-off after posting the third and final clear ride in the first round.
Foster’s short course consisted of eight efforts, including the A element from the double combination and the B and C elements of the triple. Ward rose to challenge and posted a time of 45.904 seconds with no faults in the jump-off, setting the Great American Time to Beat.
“This horse is very fast,” commented Ward. “I’m able to make a lot of nice, neat inside turns with her and she does it beautifully. She’s still a fairly young horse and she has a ton of scope. I’m just very pleased with how it all turned out today.”
The third fence of the jump-off spelled trouble for LaPierre and Vicki Vale. With one rail down, they finished with four jumping faults and eight time faults with a time of 57.064 seconds, placing them in third.
Kerins rode third in the jump-off with a chance to avenge Friday’s second-place ribbon under Ward. He came up short, however, knocking down one rail for four faults with a time of 47.505 seconds and, once again, finished behind Ward. As a pair, Kerins and Hot Wheels have been out of the Grand Prix spotlight for three years, but they have made a spectacular re-entry with two red ribbons in a row on the road to the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.
Rounding out the top five was Germaine Edelmann of Rexford, New York aboard Blue River Farm Sales’ Carotino, who had just two time faults in the first round, leaving them in fourth place. Kate Levy of Wellington, on Kate Levy LLC & Christian Woshenko’s Lirving De Volsin, finished in fifth place after having a rail down at the third fence of the first round.
|© ESI Photography.|
HITS' Tony Hitchcock and Christine Pankratz presented the first-place ribbon and awards to McLain Ward and Oh' D Eole.
“This was an awesome class,” said course designer Danny Foster. “McLain is the best rider in the world. What he’s able to do is truly amazing and he makes it look simple. It is exciting to have three in the jump-off and it leaves no room for error.”
HITS-on-the-Hudson III begins this week and will conclude the Spring Series of horse shows in Saugerties, New York. The $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, will take place Friday, June 10, while the $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, will provide the exclamation point to three weeks of competition and the last chance to earn huge prize money this spring. As the road to the Pfizer Million prepares to travel south to Culpeper, Virginia for the start of the summer circuit on July 6, all eyes will be set this week on the action in the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix 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 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 HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!