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Elizabeth Solomon wins the $1,500 Pony Jumper Classic

SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (September 12, 2008) – Elizabeth Solomon needed to call in trainer Mary Babick for some help as she secured the blue in the $1,500 Pony Jumper Classic aboard Hip-Hop to conclude the first day of competition during the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals at HITS-on-the-Hudson.

"Her trainer Judy Stevens couldn't be here today with her so they called in me as the substitute," said Babick. "I had the honor to work with her during the Pony Finals. She is a great kid who rode a great pony. The best thing about Elizabeth is that she is a great learner and wants to get better each time she rides"

Solomon who has been riding with Stevens for as long as she can remember had the fastest double-clear round on course designer Jerry Dougherty's route to win the blue. Her triumph included a lightning-fast trip in the jump-off round to secure her visit to the winners circle where she and her mount were treated to a slew of awards.

"I love being able to come to the Finals and show with all of my friends," said Solomon. "My horse had so much fun showing in the Grand Prix ring. She had a lot of energy."

"It's rewarding to get here because I worked very hard during the year to earn enough points," she added. "This weekend is going to be so much fun!"

Starting things off on Dougherty's eight obstacle jump-off course was Catherine Wachtell and her mount Frosty. A rail down midway through the trip put the pair in third place. Second to show were Solomon and Hip-Hop. They set the Great American Time to Beat at 34.180 to eventually win the class.

Next to show were Adam Sklansky and EZ To Spot. The pair went clear but their time of 35.637 was off the pace and resulted in a third place finish to conclude the class.

"It was a great start to the weekend," said Babick, who has eight horses with her. "The kids work hard all year to get here and really look forward to coming to the Finals. Let's just hope we continue to do well."

In other action for the Jumpers, Alissa Kinsey outlasted 28 pairs to secure the blue aboard Grisset in the $2,500 Adult Jumper.

Nine pairs returned for the jump-off with Kinsey and her mount posting that fastest double-clear effort. Starting things off in the jump-off were Melanie Brown and her mount Cuervo Nero. The pair had eight faults and finished out of the money.

Second to show were Christine Blair aboard Foxgate' s Joker. A single rail down early in the round put the duo in eighth place. Next to show Alexandra Beyrer and her horse Coastal. The pair set the Great American Time to Beat at 35.568. When the class was complete they would finish in fourth place.

Fourth to go in the jump-off were Sally Slater and Loose Lucy. A clear round in 35.334 landed them in fifth place. In the fifth spot were Kinsey and her mount Grisset. The 29-year-old rider from Ft. Myers, Florida made the dash for the cash setting the new time to catch at 31.826 to win the blue.

Kali Jerman and Inca were next to show and also went clean in 36.421 to secure sixth place. Reining Marshall & Sterling National Finals Champion Christina Fried and her mount Lady Grey were seventh in the order. They were clean in 32.652 to put the combination in second place giving Kinsey the upset win.

Eighth to go were Patricia Diamond Hennessy and Little Tom who also visited the winners circle during the 2007 Finals. A clear round in 33.390 earned the pair third place. Last to ride were Susan Banta Lowery and Nike. They were also clean in 40.496 to finish in seventh place.

Competition at the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals continues all weekend and will once again feature a festive League Awards Dinner and Party on Friday, September 12. This year's bash will have a Mardi Gras theme highlighted by a Cajun and Creole dinner and live music.

The Essex Classics Year-End High-Point Awards will be presented following the fabulous dinner. The awards will be presented to the top 10 riders in each division based on the Marshall & Sterling National Point Standings. The top rider in each division will receive a certificate for a free pair of Tretorn riding boots courtesy of EquiFit. In addition, the other riders in the top 10 of each division will receive a valuable coupon towards the Tretorn riding boots. Completely unlike any other riding boot, EquiFit's new Tretorn boot combines the superior technological functionality of modern sports shoes with the styling required for optimum riding performance.

Once all of the awards are handed out, it will be time to boogie during a special musical performance by Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers that will be sure to delight the crowd.

The fun doesn't stop on Friday. After Saturday’s action in the ring, exhibitors are invited to 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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