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Bjorn Ikast of Mexico wins the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix to conclude the circuit at HITS Arizona

TUCSON, ARIZONA (March 9, 2009)--Mexico's Bjorn Ikast finished off the 2009 HITS Arizona Winter Circuit right where he started, capturing the blue aboard Brave Heart in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix to conclude the six-week circuit at the Pima County Fairgrounds, in Tucson, Arizona.

Ikast got the best of 26 riders in the first round and an additional six that advanced to the jump-off en route to taking the first-place check of $7,500. Ikast had a great day on Sunday with three horses finishing in the money; he placed third aboard Amen Corner Farm's Day Dream and 11th aboard Monte Cristo to collect more than $11,000 during Sunday's featured class.

Ikast's victory also marks the third Grand Prix victory for him at the 2009 HITS Arizona Winter Circuit, as he scored victories in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix during The Sundance Welcome and a win in the $25,000 Central Equine Grand Prix during The Sahuro Classic. Both triumphs were aboard his 12-year-old Danish Warm blood Brave Heart.

"Brave Heart had a very good circuit," said Ikast. "He only had one rail down in all five of the Grand Prix classes combined. Coming to Arizona was definitely a great experience for me. Everyone here was so friendly."

Going first in the jump-off was Byrna Closson and Sutton Finch's Rip Tide. Two rails down midway through the course would result in a sixth-place finish. Second to show was Brandie Holloway and Hays Investment's Argentina. An unlucky rail down midway through the course landed the pair in fifth place at the end of the day.

Third to challenge course designer Danny Foster's (Ontario, Canada) eight-obstacle jump-off course was Michelle Parker and Cross Creek Farm's Socrates. Parker and Socrates won last Sunday's feature class and did their best to win back-to-back blue ribbons when they posted a clear round in 48.886 to set the Great American Time to Beat. However, their time would not hold up as they finished the day in fourth place.

Fourth to show was Ikast and Amen Corner Farm's Day Dream. Ikast became the new class leader when he set the new pace at 47.427. When the class was complete, they would finish in third place.

Next to go was Holloway and her second trip of the jump-off, this time aboard Hays Investment's Gabriella Z. Holloway was fast and clean moving right to the top of the class in 47.084. They would eventually finish the day in second place to collect a total of $7,000 in prize money for her two top finishes.

Ikast and Brave Heart took full advantage of the enviable last-to-go spot when they made the dash for the cash in 45.754 to win the class and wrap up a tremendous run at HITS Arizona this winter.

"Right now we are going to take a little break before I start the summer circuit in Colorado," said Ikast. "As for next winter, I will definitely be back in Arizona and hope to show in Thermal a little bit too."

The six-week HITS Arizona Winter Circuit has been a staple of the West Coast show circuits for many years. HITS took over production of the circuit in 1991. Exhibitors who show at HITS Arizona 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 Credit: Deb Dawson Photography

Photo Caption: Bjorn Ikast in the irons aboard Brave Heart in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix


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