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HITS Desert Circuit Announces New Roster of Course Designers for 2009 Season

Thermal, CA - October 14, 2008 - The HITS Desert Circuit is pleased to announce its roster of High Performance course designers for the 2009 season. The HITS Desert Circuit runs from January 20 to March 22, 2009, and will feature some of the best international course designers in the world.

Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany will design at the first week of the HITS Desert Circuit. After a successful career as an international grand prix rider, Petersen became a course designer in 1990 and earned his FEI International rating in 2002. He was an assistant designer at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games as well as the 2000 CHIO in Aachen, Germany. He was the course designer at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, and was the show jumping course designer at this year's North American Junior Young Riders Championships. He has also designed at such top shows as Devon, Del Mar, and Valkenswaard.

Petersen stated, "Regarding the show, I think we saw a big improvement in Thermal from 2007 to 2008, starting with the new jumps and finishing with the new indoor arena. The jumps just look fabulous and give a much bigger variety of colors."

Petersen looks forward to returning to the HITS Desert Circuit this year. He said, "I always enjoy coming to California, as I enjoy the Californian people and their attitude. For me, it is always nice to escape the German winter and get some sun. If I did not have another business in Europe, I would definitely think about moving to California."

In the last week of the HITS Desert Circuit, Olaf Petersen, Sr. of Germany will be the course designer. Petersen Sr. is one of the most accomplished course designers in the world, in addition to being an international judge and President of the Jumping Committee of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). He was the course designer at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the top technical delegate at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, an official supplier of services to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and was a course designer at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Most recently, Petersen was the FEI Technical Delegate for the 2008 Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong.

Aki Ylanne of Finland will be on hand to design during week four of the circuit. Ylanne has been an "O" rated course designer since 1997 and was an assistant course designer at the Olympic Games in 1988, 1992, and 1996. He was also the assistant at the 1990 World Equestrian Games in Stockholm, Sweden, and the technical delegate at many junior European Championships. He has designed at numerous World Cup qualifiers and was the head course designer at the 1998 World Cup Finals in Helsinki, Finland.

"Thermal is a new show for me," Ylanne said, "so for me there is no past with the show, but overall I very much like building in the United States. As an International Course Designer, I should be in touch with horse sport all over the world, and the United States is one of the major countries in Show Jumping. I try to bring in my way of doing jumping courses and give some more variations. I hope it can help riders and horses to do their job even better afterwards. I expect to have a very nice show."

Guilherme Jorge of Brazil, an FEI-rated course designer and veterinarian, will be setting the courses during week six. Jorge has built at such prestigious events as Spruce Meadows for the past six years, the North American Young Riders Championships, and World Cup qualifiers in Canada, England, Finland, and the United States. Jorge's biggest work has happened in the past three years, starting with the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas in 2005 and 2007 and the Pan American Games in Brazil last year.

Jorge said, "It is very nice for me to be a part of the HITS Desert Circuit in 2009. I had a great week there in 2008 when I built the course for the Championship week. The footing and the jumps were top class. The jump crew and all the staff did a great job, so it was a very nice experience for me. I'm looking forward to being a part of it again. The level of competition was very high, and I'm sure will be even better this coming year."

These international designers will help bring new characteristics and techniques to the grand prix courses at the HITS Desert Circuit. While the Petersens, Jorge, and Florencio Hernandez have designed at the HITS Desert Circuit before, it will be the first time for the other four designers on the schedule.

HITS West Coast Management team member and High Performance Liaison, Dale Harvey, noted, "We're very excited about the course designers that are coming to the HITS Desert Circuit this year. It brings in new ideas and a variety of styles to the jumper rings. It's great to have designers come back, and it's always good to bring new designers in, especially to California."

In addition to their week of designing the courses in the grand prix ring, some designers will stay a second week and design at the secondary jumper rings. These include Bernardo Cabral, Aki Ylanne, Florencio Hernandez, Bob Ellis, and Marina Azevedo.

"It's important that some of the course designers build for other rings too," Harvey said. "We're bringing in big, international level course designers. Not only are the high performance riders going to experience these new designers, but the riders who compete in the secondary rings will as well."

2009 HITS Desert Circuit Course Designer Schedule:

DC I - Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany

DC II - Bob Ellis of Great Britain

DC III - Bernardo Cabral of Portugal

DC IV - Aki Ylanne of Finland

DC V - Florencio Hernandez of Mexico

DC VI - Guilherme Jorge of Brazil

DC VII - Marina Azevedo of Brazil

DC VIII - Olaf Petersen, Sr. of Germany

The 2009 HITS Desert Circuit prize is currently in production and will be mailed in the next two weeks. If you would like more information on the HITS Desert Circuit or to request a prize list, please visit http://www.HitsShows.com.


EVENT: HITS Desert Circuit

WHEN: Tuesday through Sunday, January 20-March 22, 2009

DC I, January 20-25

DC II, January 27 - February 1, CSI-W

DC III, February 3-8, CSI-W

OFF-WEEK, February 9-15

DC IV, February 17-22, CSI-W

DC V, February 24 - March 1

DC VI, March 3-8, CSI-W

DC VII, March 10-15

DC VIII, March 17-22

WHAT: Eight-week hunter/jumper horse show circuit produced by HITS, Inc.

WHERE: HITS Desert Horse Park, 85-555 Airport Blvd., Thermal, CA 92274. The HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California is located just southeast of Palm Springs and is close to many of the area's finest restaurants, spas, hotels and world-class golf courses.

HOURS: 8 a.m. to approximately 4 p.m.


From points West: From I-10 E. Keep RIGHT to take CA-86 Spur S toward Brawley / El Centro. 6.5 miles. Turn RIGHT onto Airport Blvd. 2.2 miles. End at 85-555 Airport Blvd.

From points East: From I-10 W. Take the Dillon Rd exit toward CA-86S Expressway / Coachella. 0.2 miles. Turn LEFT onto Dillon Rd. 0.7 miles. Turn LEFT to take the CA-86S-Expressway S ramp. 0.2 miles, Merge onto CA-86 Spur S. 5.2 miles Turn RIGHT onto Airport Blvd. 2.2 miles. End at 85-555 Airport Blvd.

PARKING: Parking is free.

ADMISSION: No admission charge Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday admission is $5 per person, children under 12 are free.

SHOW GROUNDS: 13 all-weather hunter, jumper and equitation rings located on 239 acres.

CLASSES: Approximately 250 classes take place each week including multiple Grand Prix classes throughout the week.

ATTENDANCE: Approximately 3,500 horses and 10,500 horsemen are on the grounds, and more than 25,000 spectators attend during the eight-week event.

PRIZE MONEY: More than $2 million

VIP SEATING: The Oasis Club Pavilion is at the Grand Prix ring for VIP seating, and a new VIP area will be added to the berm between the Main Hunter ring and Hunter 1. VIP parking is also available.

FOOD: Prepared and served by HITS food service personnel, a complete and diverse menu of food and beverages is available at three locations on the show grounds every show day.

SHOPPING: The Desert Marketplace located near the Grand Prix arena features dozens of shops offering quality equestrian gear, apparel, jewelry, videos and more.

ECONOMIC IMPACT: Based on an independent study commissioned by HITS from Sport Management Research Institute of Weston, Florida, the total economic impact produced by the Thermal Desert Circuit equates to $121,734,061 per year.

IN BRIEF: 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.

ON-SITE SCHOOL: For information on HITS' School Station please contact Mary Cunning 802.318.6924or mycunning@msn.com or schoolstation@msn.com


Important - use this contact information only during the horse show.

HITS Desert Horse Park

85-555 Airport Blvd.

Thermal, CA 92274

Phone: 760.399.9200


319 Main St.

Saugerties, NY 12477

Phone: 845.246.8833

Fax: 845.246.6371

E-mail: info@HitsShows.com

Web site: http://www.HitsShows.com

Photo Credit: Course designers for the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit (top left, clockwise): Olaf Petersen, Jr., Olaf Petersen, Sr., Aki Ylanne, and Guilherme Jorge. Photos courtesy of client and (C) Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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