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Darragh Kerins rides Night Train to the top prize in the $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix

SAUGERTIES, NY (June 8, 2009)—Irish show jumper Darragh Kerins and Double H Farm's Night Train rolled through the field in Sunday's $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix when they captured the blue to conclude the spring series of horse shows at HITS-on-the-Hudson, in Saugerties, New York.

Kerins and Night Train got the best of the 31 horse-and-rider combinations who challenged Brazilian Course Designer Guilherme Jorge's first-round course and the eight pairs that advanced to the jump-off to collect $37,500 in first-place prize money for owners Double H Farm.

"Guilherme did a great job with the courses all week. He used the entire ring today so that there was plenty of room to gallop. The jump-off was very fast and exciting to watch," said Kerins, after his win.

First to show in the jump-off was Danielle Torano riding Sir Ruly's Vancouver D' Auvray. The pair had an unlucky rail down midway through the round and finished in fifth place. Second to show in the eight-obstacle jump-off course was Daniel Bluman and Fatalis Fatum. They also dropped a rail midway through the trip and finished in fourth place.

Olympian Todd Minikus entered the ring next riding Callie Seaman's Alaska. They would have a refusal at the second fence and a time fault to finish in sixth place. "Today's course was clearly bigger than Friday's," said Minikus. "We had a group of good horses showing today and Guilherme made sure that there were just enough in the jump-off."

Two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner McLain Ward and Phillipa were fourth in the order; they were fast and clean, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 39.626. The duo already had three wins in the bag during their run at the HITS-on-the-Hudson spring circuit but couldn't make it a fourth as they finished in second place to end the day. Ward's lead was short-lived when Kerins and Night Train set the new pace in 39.555 on the next trip of the jump-off.

After the class, Ward was pleased with how the first three weeks of the circuit went. "We all appreciated the clear effort that Tom (Struzzieri) and the show management made this spring," said Ward. "They are clearly listening to the suggestions made by the new Saugerties High Performance Committee and it shows in all the improvements made so far. I know that the HITS Team will continue to listen and make more changes as the summer progresses."

The cast of Olympians to show in Sunday's Grand Prix continued when Leslie Burr Howard rode David Goodwin's Hip Hop next. They finished with 12 faults and ended the day in seventh place. Minikus returned with his second trip of the jump-off, this time in the irons aboard Houlihan Lawrence's Olinda. They retired from the round after dropping three rails early and finished in eighth place.

Sitting in the enviable last-to-go spot were Michelle Spadone and Morgan Hill Partners' Melisimo. They made it all the way home clear in 45.682 to finish the class in third place.

Rounding out the rest of the top 12 in the class were Hillary Dobbs and her mount Marlo in ninth place, Brianne Goutal and Cloverleaf Farm's Ralvesther in 10th place, Minikus and his mount Pavarotti in 11th place and Lacy Marrone-Cramer and Equisport LLC's Ulysses Van De in 12th place.

The $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix concluded a successful three weeks of show jumping at HITS Saugerties. Action will resume at HITS Saugerties with HITS-on-the-Hudson IV on Wednesday, July 15 followed by three consecutive weeks of shows, including the return of the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships -- East Coast on July 27-29, between Weeks V and VI.

"I had a great three weeks here," said Grand Prix Rider Candice King. "There were lots of nice improvements. The Grand Prix Ring had nice jumps and decorations, and the footing was great. I am going to layover here in Saugerties for the next few weeks and make Saugerties my home base. After a couple of other horse shows, I will return for all three weeks in the summer."

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: ©Lili Weik Photography

Photo Caption: Darragh Kerins in the $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix


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