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JJ Atkinson and her Mount go Double-Clear to Win the $25,000 Central Equine Grand Prix

TUCSON, AZ (March 10, 2008)—Canadian JJ Atkinson and her mount Rambo captured the blue ribbon in Sunday's $25,000 Central Equine Grand Prix to conclude the Arizona Winter Festival at HITS Arizona.

Atkinson got the best of 19 pairs in the first round and just two combinations in the jump-off to score $7,500 in prize money. She had the ride for owners Cordi and Joe Atkinson.

"Rambo is a very fast horse who turns very sharply," said Atkinson. "I really was trying hard to slow him down. I knew that even if we slowed down a little we would still have a fast enough time to win."

Atkinson has had the mount since August. They bought the horse from Belgium and, according to her, Rambo is still relatively green. "We are using HITS Arizona as a stepping stone for him before we go back to Canada," said Atkinson. "The show provides us with a nice, relaxed atmosphere and that is just perfect for us."

First to go in the jump-off were Natasha Merback and her ride Van Schiundel's Cindy. The pair set the Great American Time to Beat at 41.057 with a clear round. Merback was also ninth aboard Samar.

Next, Atkinson and Rambo entered the ring. They were able to shave almost two seconds off Merback's time when the pair stopped the clocks in 39.297 to win the class. Atkinson was also seventh aboard Gobi Good.

Also excelling on Sunday was Michelle Parker. She was third aboard Acrobaat Z and fourth aboard Clever. In total, she collected $5,500 in prize money for Cross Creek Farms. Brandie Holloway also finished with two horses in the money. She was fifth aboard Argentina and sixth on Gabriella Z.

The Arizona Desert Finals close out the 2008 HITS Arizona Circuit, March 12-16 featuring the $25,000 Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix on Sunday, March 16. The Antares Sellier Circuit Awards will also be awarded to the top performers in each division.

The six-week event has been a staple of West Coast circuits for many years. HITS took over production of the circuit in 1991. The HITS Arizona Winter Circuit offers a full range of competition classes for beginners to advanced riders. Exhibitors gain valuable experience in the show ring under the eye of some of the country's top judges.

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: © Deb Dawson Photography; JJ Atkinson and her mount Rambo win the $25,000 Central Equine Grand Prix at HITS Arizona


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