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HITS, Inc. prepares for start of 2009 HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California

THERMAL, CA (January 13, 2009) — One week from today, the show-jumping action returns to the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California with the start of the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit. This year's circuit will feature eight weeks of hunter/jumper competition beginning on Tuesday, January 20 and continuing until March 22, when the season culminates with the $150,000 Grand Prix of the Desert and several other special classes.

This season's circuit highlights include four FEI World Cup Qualifiers, which will once again be held in the indoor ring as night classes during Weeks II, III, IV and VI and showcase some of the best Grand Prix riders in the country, including U.S. Olympic Champions Will Simpson and McLain Ward, as well as Canadian Silver Medalist Jill Henselwood, Richard Spooner, Rich Fellers, Jill Humphrey and Joie Gatlin, just to name a few. In addition to high-jumping Grand Prix action, the HITS Desert Circuit will also feature two installments of the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby, the return of the Ronnie R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship and hundreds of other exciting classes throughout the season.

Aside from schedule highlights, exhibitors will be treated to several property enhancements at the HITS Desert Horse Park, starting with brand new temporary stabling. HITS has made a substantial investment to upgrade these stalls, which feature wood and steel dividers and new tenting. Exhibitor Linda King from Calgary, Alberta was recently in town and got a preview of the new stalls.

"They are a great improvement from last year's tent stalls," said King. "I can tell that a lot of care and consideration was taken in the set up of these stalls, from where the poles are placed to the overall flow of traffic, and they look beautiful. I can't wait to get there for the season!"

In addition to new tent stalls, HITS has also installed new footing in the two Main Hunter rings, created a Hunter VIP pavilion between the two main rings, and installed grass on all the hunter berms. Olympic Course Decorator Flora Baptiston will be in Thermal decorating rings and adding her special creative touch to all the courses, including the hunter rings. As for course design, HITS has assembled a fresh team of top international course designers from around the world, including both new and returning designers like Bob Ellis of Great Britain, Aki Ylänne of Finland, Marina Azevedo of Brazil, Florencio Hernandez of Mexico and Olaf Petersen, Jr. and Olaf Petersen, Sr. of Germany.

Denise Finch of Hunters Edge Farm in Las Vegas, Nevada, who is a veteran to HITS Thermal, has been there each year since the horse show moved to Thermal with eight to 20 horses. "I am so thrilled that HITS put in new tents this year for us, and I am also very excited about all the other improvements HITS has made to the rest of the facility. My clients and I are looking forward to a fantastic 2009 season at HITS Thermal," said Finch.

"We've spent much of the off-season focusing on the priorities set out by both the Management Team and our Trainer Committee," said Tom Struzzieri, HITS President and CEO. "I continue to be proud of what we are achieving out here in Thermal and I look forward to welcoming exhibitors back to the Desert Circuit for a great season. As always, we are committed to ensuring that this circuit continues on the path to be one of the best show experiences in the country on all fronts, from footing and stabling to competition and exhibitor enjoyment."

One suggestion coming from the Thermal Trainer Committee was the idea to adjust the way nominations for jumpers are handled and, as a result of the recommendation, HITS has altered its policy for declaring and changing nominations for the season. HITS recently announced that ship-in fees for Thermal have been eliminated this year and that exhibitors will have the opportunity to purchase discounted warm-up tickets booklets for the season. In addition, the HITS School Station also announced discounted rates for students enrolled in the on-site educational program for the circuit.

"The fact that HITS offers a school program during the circuit is one of the main reasons we are able to come," said King. "All three of my children attend the school and it's a wonderful experience. In fact, my youngest returned to his home school last year ahead of the class! Mary [Cunning] does a fabulous job."

The HITS Desert Circuit officially kicks off on Tuesday, January 20 and continues for three weeks. After a one-week break, the circuit resumes with five consecutive weeks of competition and concludes on Sunday, March 22. For more information on the HITS Desert Circuit, please visit http://www.HitsShows.com or call 845.246.8833.

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: ©HITS Staff; The view of the new berm at the Main Hunter ring looking towards the new Hunter VIP pavilion


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