Saugerties, NY - May 28, 2009 - The HITS Saugerties Spring and Summer Show Series offers eight weeks of fantastic competition, and six of those weeks will count towards this year's Spring Circuit Champion (May 20-June 7) and Summer Circuit Champion (July 15-August 2) Awards. In addition to weekly championships, the best overall horses and riders of the two circuits will be honored.
At the conclusion of Weeks I-III for the Spring Circuit and of Weeks IV-VI for the Summer Circuit, champions will be recognized. The Parade of Champions awards presentation will take place in the Grand Prix Ring on Sunday of Week III (June 7) and VI (August 2), prior to the start of the $125,000 Grand Prix. Spring Circuit Award Winners will receive a bridle bag courtesy of SmartPak and a special championship ribbon.
HITS will award circuit championships in both series to a variety of different divisions. They will present awards to 36 hunter divisions, 18 jumper divisions, and 14 equitation divisions.
A winner in the hunter divisions last year was professional rider Amanda Steege of Oldwick, NJ. Steege runs her Ashmeadow Farm and often brings horses to HITS Saugerties. She rode Merlin for owner Cynthia Kellogg and trainer Sandy Lobel to the Spring circuit championship in the Baby Green Hunter division. She also picked up a circuit reserve championship in the Adequan Hunter division on Aberdini, owned by Dianne Fotiades.
While Steege says that the circuit championships are not something that she is aiming horses towards during the year at Saugerties, they are a great bonus for her horses' owners. She pointed out, "I think that those awards are really nice for the owners. It's nice that the horse show chips in something extra to recognize the horses."
Steege also mentioned another big draw for the professional hunters. "I showed a First Year horse here this week, and he was champion. I don't know if everybody realizes that they increased the prize money here for the First Year division. Every class is a $1,000 class. My horse won more than a thousand dollars here this week. To be able to tell your owners that their First Year horse won that much money is unbelievable," she said.
Steege loves the town of Saugerties, including its great restaurants and hotels, as well as the beautiful scenery. In her first week back this year, Steege was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the footing in the hunter rings. "They have made a huge improvement here this year in the footing," she remarked. "The footing in the main hunter ring is fantastic. All of the other rings felt really good as well. I haven't ridden in one place here that didn't feel good. That's amazing to me."
She added, "We had Saugerties as a maybe to come back in the summer, but after being here this week, I'd say that we'd definitely come back for at least one week in the summer."
Jumper divisions are honored with circuit awards in classes ranging from Level 1 to the High Junior and High Amateur Jumpers. Cindy McGrath, an amateur rider out of Hummelstown, PA, trains with her husband, Richard McGrath, at the Central Pennsylvania Equestrian Center. Last year, McGrath won the Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Spring Circuit Championship on Largo and the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Spring Circuit Championship with Concerto. Concerto took home the Summer Reserve Circuit Championship as well in the High division.
The McGraths have shown at HITS Saugerties in the spring and summer circuits often. "We really enjoy it here. The stabling is fabulous, and the grand prix ring is beautiful. There is plenty of room to ride, and the food is great," McGrath laughed.
McGrath noted that the management at HITS Saugerties helps make their show experience special every week. "The management is unbelievable. They are often standing by the in-gate to make sure things are running smoothly. You feel like you're wanted. I like everything about it here," she said.
What also makes McGrath's time in Saugerties worthwhile is having the goal of winning a circuit championship. "Being able to win a circuit championship just gives you recognition for your accomplishments," she explained. "Everybody works hard every week. If you do well overall, then being the circuit champion makes you feel good. They make a big deal out of it. You parade in the main ring, get ribbons and nice prizes, and have your photo taken. It's a nice extra thing that they don't have to do. Again it's just another example of the management going above and beyond."
Kelsey Hart of East Greenbush, NY, rode two horses in the Equitation 15-17 division during last year's shows and brought home the circuit championship in the spring and summer. Hart trains with Stepping Stone Farm and lives just 45 minutes away from Saugerties.
"I've shown at Saugerties every year," Hart mentioned. "We've been going since before they built the permanent barns. It's like a hometown show for us. Our farm brings every client, from amateurs just starting out to our grand prix horses."
In addition to competing in the equitation classes this year, Hart is also competing with her new stallion in the Low Junior Jumpers and the Modified Junior/Amateur Jumpers.
Winning the circuit championship in the equitation, Hart said, shows consistency. "It's not just a fluke one week. (There are) different judges and the competition varies each week. You can prove yourself with different courses, and it shows that you are a person that everyone should watch out for," she added.
Hart enjoys the Parade of Champions and said, "It's really cool. Everyone from our barn comes and watches. Plus, I have family that is nearby so they come out to the show as well."
This year, Hart emphasized the new changes at Saugerties. "I love the new VIP tent," she smiled. "The maintenance of the rings and footing is amazing. There is always great competition. I like watching the big grand prix riders like McLain Ward and Chris Kappler, and in the equitation, the best of the best always come."
In addition to the multitude of circuit championship awards, a special award will be given during Week VI. The winner of the Catena Leading Grand Prix Rider Award will win a beautiful Catena watch.
The time honored standards of Swiss-watch making excellence have been synonymous with Catena since 1950. Catena continues that tradition by combining Swiss craftsmanship and artistry with the latest technology to design a collection of truly unique equestrian timepieces. Today, Catena benefits from the experience and knowhow of the third and fourth generations of a Swiss family of watchmakers. For more information on Catena, please visit http://www.catenausa.com
The HITS Spring and Summer Show Series prize list is available online. Entries for the summer competition (starting with Week IV) are due on June 17, so please visit http://www.HitsShows.com
for more information and to reserve your spot today.
Photo Credit: Isabel Ryan her horse Dot Com took home two Circuit Championships last spring. She is pictured with Wendy Metzger and HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock. Photo courtesy of HITS, Inc. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/hits-saugerties-spring-summer-circuit-awards-06-09.html">Exhibitors Looking Forward to HITS Saugerties Spring and Summer Circuit Awards</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com