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Annie Wang and Olivander win the first-ever $5,000 Pony Commotion at HITS Saugerties

SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (August 8, 2008) -- Annie Wang played some sweet music aboard her large pony Olivander in Thursday’s $5,000 Pony Commotion at HITS Saugerties to grab the blue ribbon.

“It was her last hurrah on that pony,” said trainer Donna Pace. “She is going to college in Indiana in a few weeks and when she comes back, hopefully, she will have the pony leased. It was her pony finals and she walked out of the ring in tears.”

The Redding, Connecticut native scored an 82 in both the first and second rounds to receive the top overall score of 164 and win $1,500 in prize money. She outlasted 19 pairs in the class that took place in the majestic Grand Prix ring at HITS-on-the-Hudson.

“Riding in the Grand Prix ring was so awesome,” said Wang, who sat on the berm with some friends watching the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions USHJA International Hunter Derby. “It was the last show I planned on doing with my pony and I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”

“Today’s Pony Commotion was a great success,” said Tom Struzzieri, HITS President and CEO. “It was remarkable to see such great support for this new class. In fact, we are going to bring the same plan to HITS Thermal and Ocala this winter and we are already making plans to have a bigger and better version in Saugerties next summer.”

Wang, who has been under the watchful eye of Pace for quite a while, found the pony about five years ago in Virginia. “That pony is a little big man,” said Pace. “He is a trainer’s dream because he is all heart.”

Taking the second-place honors in the class was Beaumont, who is owned by Tiger Hill Farm and was ridden by Sophie Michaels. Michaels was also ninth aboard her other mount Rolling Stone and trains with Cullen Latimer and Peter Lutz of Davenport, Inc., from Golden Bridge, New York.

“The event was just great,” said Latimer. “I was pleasantly surprised that the course used the entire Grand Prix ring. It’s such a big space, which made it challenging for the riders. It was excellent preparation for the Pony Finals and HITS did a great job making it an important event.”

“It was really exciting, I was nervous, but it was cool,” said Michaels, who is 10 years old and has been training with Latimer and Lutz for the past four years. “I just moved up to the small ponies this winter, so this is the biggest class I’ve ever done. It was cool to show in the Grand Prix ring and I loved the sunflower jumps, they were really fun!”

“I thought she dealt with her nerves well and by the second round it was clear that she was feeling more comfortable. I thought she performed really well.” said Latimer.

Michaels is off to the Pony Finals next where she and Beaumont will look to repeat their performance for another top finish.

In third place was My Prince Charming, who is owned by Amy Cortez and was ridden by Porter Allen. Allen trains with Don Stewart.

"All of the kids were very excited for the Pony Commotion. It’s great practice for the Pony Finals,” said Stewart, Allen’s trainer. "Porter is one of our great students and is from Texas. She has come along quite nicely in both the hunter and equitation classes this year. It's her third summer with us and she is coming along great!"

Wang, who recently graduated from the Joel Barlow School in Redding, Connecticut is not only a tremendous rider but she is also an amazing viola player and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, in New York City.

“It felt like I was riding in a Grand Prix,” said Wang. “It didn’t feel like a hunter class at all.”

Show jumping at HITS Saugerties continues all weekend and will feature the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix on Friday and the $50,000 In the Woods Log Homes Grand Prix on Sunday. Both Grand Prix events are qualifiers for the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix which will be held at HITS Culpeper during the USGPL Finals in late September. After this week, HITS Saugerties takes a short hiatus while competition shifts to HITS Culpeper for two exciting weeks in Virginia. On tap at HITS Culpeper will be the return of the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Equitation Finals as well as two more qualifying $40,000 Grand Prix events for the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix. On Sunday, August 31 the $40,000 Avalon Saddlery Grand Prix, presented by Kingsland will conclude the summer shows at HITS Culpeper. Then, show jumping returns to HITS Saugerties for Week VII on Wednesday, September 3 for a full week of competition, followed by the annual Marshall & Sterling League Finals September 11-14.

HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS produced its first horse show circuit in Gainesville, Florida in 1982. Since that time, HITS has grown into a nationwide company with world-class hunter/jumper circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit http://www.HitsShows.com

PHOTO: © Lili Weik Photography; Annie Wang and Olivander get their moment in the HITS Saugerties Grand Prix ring during Thursday’s first-ever $5,000 Pony Commotion.


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