SAUGERTIES, NY (June 2, 2009)—The high-performance riders keep rolling into HITS as the Grand Prix events this week featured several Olympians, including Margie Engle who was the winner of Sunday's $75,000 HITS Grand Prix.
Engle and her mare Hidden Creek's Coroya Z were the best of 23 horse-and-rider pairs who challenged Mexico's Florencio Hernandez's first-round course and the 10 pairs that advanced to the jump-off. Some of the big names to compete in Sunday's feature class included McLain Ward, Todd Minikus, Leslie Burr Howard, Manuel Torres and Hillary Dobbs, who made her first appearance on the circuit this weekend.
During HITS-on-the-Hudson III, the stakes will be even higher for the Grand Prix riders when the $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix takes place on Sunday, June 7. The feature class will serve as the crown jewel of the spring series at HITS Saugerties and conclude the three-week circuit.
Like all Grand Prix events at HITS Saugerties, the $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix is a qualifier for the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix held on Sunday, September 27 at HITS Culpeper in Culpeper, Virginia. The top 30 rider/horse pairs, who are members of the Marshall & Sterling League will earn a spot in this prestigious annual Grand Prix. Sunday's win helped Engle move into the number five spot behind Tracy Fenney, Aaron Vale, Laura Linback and super star Tracy Magness, who is currently at the top of the list with a whopping $92,750 in qualified winnings. Click here for the current standings.
Fantastic Fisher! Hunter rider Jenny Fischer excels again
HITS-on-the-Hudson II proved to be a fantastic week for hunter rider Jenny Fischer. The Montgomery, New York, native rode Judy Merrit's Freedom Storm to the Championship in the Working Hunter Division. Then, for the second week in a row, she piloted Ralph and Holly Caristo's Indiana to the Championship in the Adequan Hunter to take a commanding lead in the circuit standings. The pair won both over fence classes and the under saddle to sweep the division. Spring Champions will be awarded a special bridle bag courtesy of SmartPak and will have the opportunity to participate in the Parade of Champions which will take place on Sunday, June 7 prior to the $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix as part of the Spring Finale Weekend.
Also excelling were the group of exhibitors from Larkspur, in Wilton, Connecticut. Led by Lena Rae Reeb and Grace Peck, the barn secured countless ribbons under the guidance of trainers Leslie Kogos and Michele West. Rae Reeb rode Goodnight Moon to the Championship in the Short Stirrup Hunter Division and Peck was the champion in the Short Stirrup Equitation Division.
"It was a great week for us in Saugerties," said West. "The kids love coming here in the spring. We will return for one week in July and for the Marshall & Sterling League Finals. We have those two weeks circled on our calendar back at the barn."
Taste of HITS-on-the-Hudson delighted exhibitors
On Saturday afternoon, restaurants from the surrounding area were at the show grounds offering samples from their sumptuous and varied menus during the annual Taste of HITS-on-the-Hudson event. Participating restaurants at this years event were Me-Oh-My, Cakes and Pies, Mirabella, Stella's Station, The Dam Cafe & Deli and The Dutch Ale House.
Purina Mills Kids Day closes out the spring special events calendar
On Sunday, June 7 the special events schedule goes into full swing during Purina Mills Kids Day. The event is always one of the most popular events at HITS-on-the-Hudson. The popular local children's band Ratboy Jr . will be performing during the annual Purina Mills Kids Day. In addition to the musical performance, Kids Day will be filled with family fun and entertainment, including clowns, a slide, a bounce house, arts & crafts and loads of fun. New to the roster will be a special performance by the Hudson Valley's own Gym Stars Allstars Cheerleading team and an extra special Pony Pal Precision Riding contest presented by sponsor Pony Pals. The winner of the Pony Pal Precision Riding contest will win a brand new Pony Pal bike!
When Kids Day concludes, spectators are encouraged to watch some of the best competitors in the world compete for the top prize in the $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix. Some of the riders expected to compete in the featured class on Sunday, June 7 include two-time United States Gold Medal Winner McLain Ward. After the Grand Prix, kids will have a chance to meet the riders up close and personal during a special Grand Prix rider autograph and photo session.
For exhibitors still looking to make lodging plans, HITS Official Hotel Partners still have availability. Please click here to view the hotels.
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 Credit: ©Lili Weik Photography
Photo Caption: McLain Ward is congratulated by HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock and HITS Account Executive for Corporate Sponsorship Lisa Engel after winning the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix after HITS-on-the-Hudson I. Ward will certainly be in the mix for this Sunday's big finale, the $125,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/hits-saugerties-show-jumping-06-09.html">HITS Saugerties celebrates another terrific week of show jumping action</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com