SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (June 9, 2008)--Darragh Kerins definitely doesn't need a good luck charm. But the 32-year-old Irishman is convinced that he has one on his side, especially after he negotiated the quickest double-clear round aboard Night Train to secure the first-place check in the $50,000 Waldorf=Astoria Collection Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties.
Kerins had the ride for Double H Farm and even got to grab the blue ribbon in front of Night Train's owner Hunter Harrison. "It's an unbelievable feeling to win in front of him,"said Kerins. "The amount of support I get from Hunter and his wife is amazing. He was there last Sunday when we won the $100,000 Grand Prix at Devon and was watching today from the in-gate. He is my lucky charm."
Night Train is nine years old and is no stranger to the winner's circle at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Kerins won three Grand Prix classes aboard him last summer at HITS Saugerties. "It all started here," said Kerins. "We began this fantastic run last year and have not looked back since."
Course Designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. cut a field of 21 riders in the first round down to seven for the jump-off. First to go in the jump-off were Canadian Keean White and his ride Celina Z. The combination finished second in Thursday's $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix when Miranda Fischer and Hot Wheels edged them out on the last trip of the jump-off.
In Sunday's feature class, White and his mount went double clear and stopped the clocks in 39.513 to set the Great American Time to Beat right off the bat. However, as it turned out, that time would only be good enough for fourth place.
Federico Sztyrle was next to go aboard Ambra. The pair was also clear in 39.709 and finished in fifth place for Christian Wolffer. Hillary Dobbs and Corlett were third in the order and shot right to the top when they went clean in 38.407. The pair would eventually finish in third place.
Another Irishman entered the ring next, when Kevin Babington returned for his jump-off round aboard Souvenir. But Babington didn't have the luck of the Irish on his side, as he dropped two rails and finished in seventh place.
Kerins and Night Train were fifth in the jump-off and established the new pace in 37.368. "I was behind the eight-ball because I didn't get to see Hillary ride and didn't know what her time was," said Kerins. "She is always fast on that horse and never leaves much of a window for anyone to catch her. I took a chance and went as fast as I could to the final jump and it paid off!"
Dobbs returned next aboard her mount Marengo. The 20-year-old laid down another clear round, stopping the clocks in 38.234 to secure second place. "Two in the top three isn't that bad," said Dobbs. "I knew Night Train was going to be tough to beat coming into the class. They were a perfect team and have a lot of experience together."
"I was especially thrilled with Marengo today," added Dobbs. "This was the best she jumped in a long time. "I was a little too safe with her to the last jump and pulled back on the reins. If not for that... we may have edged out Darragh."
Rebecca Johanson-Hofmann and Corona were last in the jump-off order and couldn't take advantage of the last-to-go spot, as they had four faults and finished in sixth place.
"I thought all of the horses jumped great," said Petersen. "I was looking for seven or eight horses to advance to the jump-off and I was very happy when I got seven. It was a very competitive and entertaining class."
"My wife Sara also won the low amateur classic today," said Kerins. "I'm very proud of her and it makes my win today twice as special."
Kerins plans to show Night Train in a few classes next week to get him tuned up for the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix on Sunday, June 15. It may come down to Kerins and Dobbs again, as she plans to show Quincy B during the week after giving him this week off.
HITS-on-the-Hudson II also featured several fun out-of-ring activities, including Friday evening's Guitar Hero exhibitor mixer, Saturday's popular Taste of HITS-on-the-Hudson, a HITS night at the local Puttin' Plus amusement park and the highlight of the weekend, the Big Brown Belmont Bash party where several hundred competitors gathered at the HITS Bar and Grill to watch the running of the last leg of the Triple Crown at the Belmont Race Track.
Show jumping at HITS Saugerties resumes on Wednesday with HITS-on-the-Hudson III. As always, HITS Saugerties features two Grand Prix classes per week. On Thursday, the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix takes the stage and on Sunday even more prize money is on the line during the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix.
More fun is in store for the third and final week of show jumping at HITS Saugerties this spring. First, on Friday night it's the fun Canine Affair dog costume contest, then on Saturday the fun shifts to the streets for the HITS Saugerties Block Party and on Sunday the weekend concludes with the ever-popular Purina Mills Kids Day.
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: © Lili Weik Photography; Darragh Kerins and Night Train are congratulated by Wendy Metzger and HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock after winning the $50,000 Waldorf=Astoria Collection Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/darragh-kerins-waldorf-astoria-night-train-06-08.html">Darragh Kerins and Night Train roll through the field in the $50,000 Waldorf=Astoria Collection Grand Prix</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com