THERMAL, CA (February 3, 2009)—The 2009 HITS Desert Circuit continues to roll along, drawing rave reviews from exhibitors as it just wrapped up Desert Circuit II at the HITS Desert Horse Park, in Thermal, California.
Exhibitors Didi and Ken McKenzie of Flower Mound, Texas, have been making the trip to the Desert Circuit every year for more than a decade. They didn't know where to begin when it came to complimenting the horse show so far.
"Between the new portable stalls, the grass on the berms and the new footing in the hunter rings, everything has been incredible," said Didi McKenzie. "Even the little things - like the footing paths in the roadways and the wireless internet in the RV Park – it all just makes it so nice.."
"Everything looks superb," said Ken McKenzie. "The weather has been perfect and if you combine that with the panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains, what more can you ask for?"
A Great Hunt!
On Friday evening in the indoor arena, Alexandra Ladove rode her pony Show Boat to the blue in the $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic. Ladove is 11 years old and trains at Waldenbrook Farm with trainer John French.
Ladove (Pebble Beach, California) and Show Boat posted the top score in both the first and second rounds to win the blue. Made for Me, ridden by Pearl Theodosakis (Encinitas, California) was second and Halcyon Let's Luau ridden by Destry Spielberg (Los Angeles, California) finished in third place.
"This is Alexandra's dream and focus," said French. "She has a great competitive personality that allows her to stay calm in moments of stress."
Ladove has only been at Waldenbrook for about nine months but has already made tremendous strides since her arrival riding under French and his assistant trainer Tammy Schipke.
"She has a very committed family and that helps her achieve her goals in the show ring," added French.
Stay Classy San Diego!
The Grand Prix schedule continued in full swing during Desert Circuit II with two Grand Prix events in the indoor arena. On Thursday night, it was Mandy Porter and San Diego who won the blue in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix.
On Saturday, Porter and San Diego did it again, winning the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan. With both triumphs, Porter collected over $20,000 for San Diego's owner Danielle Korsh.
Porter earned some valuable points towards the Catena Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider Award during Desert Circuit II. The presentation of the Catena Leading Lady Rider Award during the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit will take place after the $150,000 Grand Prix of the Desert on Sunday, March 22.
The leading female Grand Prix rider on the HITS Desert circuit will receive a timepiece from Catena, USA with 29 hand-cut diamonds and a white mother-of-pearl dial with 12 diamonds on the dial of the timepiece.
Equine Art Exhibition Highlights Out-of-ring Activities for Desert Circuit II
Last weekend, HITS Thermal hosted its first-ever Equine Art Exhibition. A talented group of artists from the West Coast, including 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Program Cover Artist Bruce McKinney, decorated the indoor arena with their fabulous works of art.
Artwork was on display throughout the weekend and was a special feature during the $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic on Friday and the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan on Saturday.
"It was a unique event that mixed fine equestrian art with world-class show jumping," said HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock. "We received rave reviews from both the artists and the exhibitors and will definitely host the event again next year."
Show jumping action at the HITS Desert Circuit is underway with Desert Circuit III and features a full week of classes, including the second of four FEI World Cup Qualifiers in the indoor arena on Saturday night with the $50,000 Purina Mills FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan.
That class is sure to be a crowd pleaser as three Olympic medalists from the 2008 games in Hong Kong are expected to compete – Will Simpson and McLain Ward, who were on the gold medal winning team for the United States, and Jill Henselwood who helped guide Team Canada to the Silver. West Coast superstars like Rich Fellers, who was second in the 2008 World Cup, will be on hand as well as Richard Spooner, so it’s sure to be a great class!
Desert Circuit III will also feature the second-annual Canine Affair Dog Costume Party and Exhibitor Mixer on Friday night and includes complimentary food, a cash bar and prizes for the best costumes. All breeds, ages and sizes of dogs welcome!
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 how 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: ©Flying Horse Photography; Mandy Porter and San Diego on course during the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/hits-thermal-02-09.html">The HITS keep coming! Enthusiastic exhibitors enjoy another week at HITS Thermal</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com