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Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 are ready to take on the World

Thermal, CA (March 8, 2009)--Ashlee Bond will be heading to Las Vegas after all, thanks to her blue-ribbon performance in Saturday night's $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan, during Week VI at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.

Bond and Little Valley Farm's Cadett 7 got the best of 28 riders who challenged Brazilian Course Designer Guilherme Jorge's first round course and the additional eight who advanced to the jump-off. The win marks the fourth of the circuit for Bond and Cadett 7. More importantly, it guarantees the 23-year-old a spot in April's FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.

"I'm numb right now," said Bond. "There are no words to describe the way I am feeling. I am going to the World Cup Finals!"

"Ashlee was phenomenal," said her trainer and father Steve Bond. "Right now, we are going to live in this moment and get ready to go to the Finals. This whole feeling is surreal. As a life-long horseman, I can appreciate when a horse and rider form a great connection and I don't believe I have ever seen a pair come together like this so quickly."

“Cadett is a 12 year-old gelding that I started riding in June," continued Ashlee Bond. "He is an incredible horse that just needed someone to believe in him. He is proving to be the most incredible horse that I have ever had the privilege of riding."

Starting off the jump-off was John McConnell and Klein Ranch's Carolina. The pair won the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix during Week V and were looking to really make some waves with another win on Saturday. They made it all the way home with no faults in 39.03 to set the Great American Time to Beat. Clean was good, but their time would not hold up, as they finished in sixth place.

Fresh off their win in Thursday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix this week, Rich Fellers and Flexible were next to show. The pair was fast and clean, stopping the clock in 34.89 to finish in second place by the end of the night.

Katherine Bardis and Mademoiselle were third to go in the jump-off. A rail down for the up-and-coming Grand Prix rider in a time of 36.26 resulted in a seventh place finish.

Bond was next to show and was looking to cement her place at the World Cup Finals. Bond and Cadett 7 brought the crowd in the indoor arena to its feet when she took over the lead after jumping clean in 34.87 to eventually win the blue.

"Ashlee had her work cut out for her," said Steve Bond. "Rich Fellers was very fast and she knew that she had to really step on the gas to win."

Helen McNaught and Caballo were next in the order and were clean in 36.94 to finish in fifth place.

Richard Spooner would show sixth in the order aboard Lou Bega. The HITS Desert Circuit's all-time leading money winner just purchased Lou Bega from Leone Equestrians, and Saturday's feature class would be the first Grand Prix that they would show in together. They would jump clean in 35.09 to finish in third place.

"I couldn't be happier with Lou Bega," said Spooner. "I have just started riding him over the last few days, and to finish third in a World Cup Qualifier in such a short time is unreal."

Seventh to show in the jump-off was Mandy Porter and Danielle Korsh's San Diego. The pair are in the top five of the FEI World Cup Standings for the US West Coast League and were looking for a blue to secure a spot in the Finals. However, two rails down landed them in eighth place.

In the enviable last-to-go spot was Lane Clark and Horsemanship Unlimited's Kiss the Sky. They were clear in 35.12, but were off of Bond's time to end the class in fourth place.

With Bond’s victory, she not only earned precious FEI World Cup Points, but also clinched the Platinum Performance Leading World Cup Qualifier Rider at the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit. For her victory, she received a one-year supply of Platinum Performance.

"That's awesome!" said Ashlee Bond. "I use Platinum Performance Product all the time!"

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.


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