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Cortie Wetherill and Equinox win the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties

SAUGERTIES, NY(August 9, 2008)--Cortie Wetherill and his mount Equinox had the lone double-clear round on course designer Jerry Dougherty's route during Friday's $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties.

Wetherill, who is a great young student of show jumping legend Norman Dello Joio, outlasted 25 pairs in the first round and five in the jump-off to win the blue aboard his 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood. "It was only my third time showing him in a Grand Prix," said Wetherill. "I only got him about two months ago. He is a perfect horse for me and jumps really well."

"He went clean and the others didn't," said Dougherty. "That will be the winner every time."

Starting things off in the jump-off were Norman Dello Joio and his mount Maarten. The pair had an unlucky rail down midway through the course and finished in third place for Newsprint Farm.

Wetherill and Equinox were second to go and set the Great American Time to Beat at 41.705 with a clear round that would eventually win the class. "Norman just told me to go fast," said Wetherill. "He said this horse can win it and that I had to trust him. He was right!"

Michelle Spadone rode her mount Melisimo into the Grand Prix ring next. The up-and-coming rider from Redfield Farm had a rail down to finish with four faults. She was the fastest of three combinations with four faults and finished in second place.

Another one of Dello Joio's pupils showed next when Francis Roig and Acertijo went on course. A rail down early on put the duo in fourth place. Sitting in the last-to-go spot were Martien Van Der Hoeven and his mount South Bound . Two rails down landed them in fifth place as they collected $1,500 in prize money.

"We had a little rain and I thought the footing held up great," said Wetherill. "I am really happy with the win and it's certainly a confidence booster for Sunday's Grand Prix."

Show jumping continues throughout the weekend at HITS Saugerties and wraps on Sunday with the $50,000 In the Woods Log Homes Grand Prix.

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: 2008 Lili Weik Photography; Cortie Wetherill and his mount Equinox on course during the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties


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