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Covered arena returns to HITS Thermal in 2010 for FEI World Cup Qualifiers

THERMAL, CA (May 7, 2009)—HITS is pleased to announce that it will once again offer a covered competition arena for the four World Cup Qualifiers at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California. The World Cup events will take place at DC II, III, IV and VI during the 2010 season.

HITS has successfully run the World Cup Qualifiers at its West Coast Circuit since 1993, giving riders on the West Coast an opportunity to qualify for the prestigious World Cup Finals year after year right in their own backyard.

The covered arena was originally erected at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California for the 2008 season at the request of the West Coast Active Riders, in order to have a competition setting similar to what riders would be challenged with at the FEI World Cup Finals. In its inaugural year, the covered arena at Thermal enjoyed wide-spread praise from the top high-performance riders in the sport.

Rich Fellers reaped the benefits of the new indoor arena right off the bat. Riding Harry and Mollie Chapman's Flexible, he dominated the Qualifiers during the 2008 season, winning three out of four, and went on to finish higher than any other American pair at the 2008 FEI World Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden. In fact, their second-place finish was the best American finish in more than 20 years.

"There is no question in my mind that riding in the indoor arena really helped me, as a rider, be as prepared as I could be for the World Cup,” said Fellers, after the 2008 Finals. “To the horses, the covered arena in Thermal is very similar to the one at the Finals.”

When it came to success in the indoor arena at HITS Thermal in 2009, no rider surpassed up-and-coming Grand Prix rider Ashlee Bond. Bond, who is just 23 years old, shot up the U.S. West Coast League Standings with victories in two of the four FEI World Cup Qualifiers held during the eight-week circuit. The California native also won the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix during Desert Circuit II inside the indoor arena to give her three victories for the 2009 season.

"I love the indoor ring at HITS Thermal," said Bond. "For some reason, I've always enjoyed riding in very small arenas. I like how you have to be on your toes and that everything happens so fast. HITS did a great job on the indoor arena, bringing in a lot of greenery and making it very spectator friendly, which I love. It's great when you get a lot of fans and other riders, owners and trainers coming out to support you!"

Although veteran Grand Prix rider Joie Gatlin will not be looking to earn points to qualify for the 2010 FEI World Cup Finals that will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, she is thrilled about the return of the indoor arena to the HITS Desert Horse Park.

“I am very excited HITS has decided to keep the indoor arena for the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit. I believe the improved American placings at the World Cup Finals over the past two years is a direct reflection of having our qualifiers indoors,” said Gatlin.

The 2010 HITS Desert Circuit schedule making process is currently underway and, according to HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri, HITS plans to mix up the competition a bit by incorporating more classes outdoors in the majestic Grand Prix arena to complement the indoor schedule and offer exhibitors some diversity at the high-performance level.

"We are excited to host four World Cup Qualifiers in our indoor arena especially after the recent success of West Coast Riders at the Finals,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “However, not all of the Grand Prix Riders that attend HITS Thermal are looking to qualify for the World Cup and we will take that into consideration when planning our 2010 class schedule. We want it to work for everyone."

The HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California is on track to become one of the preeminent facilities in the world and as always, the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit will feature a full schedule of classes for riders from the beginner level to high performance classes. Announcements will be made regularly leading up to the start of the 2010 season. To keep on track with the updates, please visit http://www.HitsShows.com.

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: ©Flying Horse Photography

Photo Caption: Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 on course.


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