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David Connors pays tribute to his aunt by guiding Billy Elliot to the Grand Championship in Adequan Hunter

SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (September 13, 2008) – David Connors paid the perfect tribute to his aunt who passed away last night when he rode Billy Elliot to the Grand Championship in the Adequan Hunter to highlight competition for the Hunters on Friday during the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals at HITS-on-the-Hudson.

"It was a bittersweet ending to my week," said Connors. "I just learned last night that my aunt Linda Connors passed away from cancer. She taught me how to ride in Auburn, New York. My win today is certainly dedicated to her."

Connors and Billy Elliot used a pair of blue ribbons in both the over fences and under saddle phases of the Adequan Hunter Division to accumulated 24 points to capture the top honors. Billy Elliot is a Quarter Horse owned by Carol Stillwell.

"He is a great guy," said Connors. "He is so easy going and mild mannered and just a pleasure to ride."

The Reserve Champion in the Adequan Hunter was awarded to Abundance, who was ridden and owned by Cara Garito. Abundance accumulated 18 total points thanks in large part to a second-place showing in the under saddle. The pair finished fourth in the over fences portion of the division.

Garito got her chance to wear the blue during the $7,500 Adult Working Hunter when she rode Abundance to the Grand Championship. "I am just happy to be here," said Garito, who trains with Connors and Bill Ellis at Four Winds Farm. "I just wanted a ribbon, and to walk away winning the division is more than I could have expected."

"This is all new to him," said Garito, who just bought the horse in April. "He is only six so hopefully we will form a great combination for a while."

HITS Ocala is on Garito's calendar for 2009. "It's going to be my first time in Ocala and I am really looking forward to going down there,"said Garito. "I am really excited for the extra week at the end of the circuit this year. There is a $5,000 Adult Hunter Classic that I will definitely be showing in."

Reserve Champion in the Adult Working Hunter Division was awarded to Rio Bronco, who had Caitlin Darnell in the saddle and is owned by Stepping Stone Farm.

Competition at the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals continues all weekend and is highlighted by a special Ice Skating Party from 6:30-9:30 PM at the Kiwanis Ice Rink across the street from the show grounds. There will also be an Ice Cream Social on Saturday afternoon on the show grounds.

During the year, riders from coast to coast compete at more than 980 Marshall & Sterling League member horse shows to earn points for a place at the Finals. Since its inception in 1991, the Marshall & Sterling League Finals have provided the goal that has fueled the competitive spirit of child and adult riders at all levels of competition. Click here for the current standings.

Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc., founded in 1864, is among the largest privately-owned insurance agencies in the United States. For more than a quarter century, Marshall & Sterling has protected precious equine assets with unparalleled service and support, whether the family hunter, a champion race horse or a commercial farm. An employee-owned company, Marshall & Sterling has been recognized by IIABA as one of the nation's top “Best Practice Agencies”. The company maintains a national presence and is licensed in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information contact Mary Moelle r at 800-836-3046, extension 224.

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


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