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Heck of a Start! HITS Thermal salutes its first half heroes

THERMAL, CA (February 9, 2009)—The 2009 HITS Desert Circuit wrapped up its first half on Sunday afternoon and was highlighted by the Smartpak Mid-Circuit Awards presented in over 70 divisions during the Parade of Champions in the majestic Grand Prix Ring at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.

The Jennifer Marlborough Freeman Memorial Trophy, awarded to the Mid-Circuit Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35, was presented as well. For the second year in a row, Alison Baileys and her mount Hollister were the winners .

"Alison is a tremendous rider and when the pressure is on, you know she is going to deliver," said trainer John French. "She has been training with me for about three years and just keeps getting better and better."

Home Run Derby!

Hunters had their chance to shine in the Grand Prix Ring during Desert Circuit III when John French and Rumba won the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby.

French had the ride for Taylor Siebel, who purchased the horse from Newmarket last year and has been showing him in the Junior Hunters. "Taylor didn't show this week, so I was able to ride him in the derby," said French. "He is a tremendous horse and Erin Duffy did a nice job when she had him at Newmarket."

A field of 35 horses in the first round was trimmed into a final group of 12 who returned for the second round. The first round was a regular classic course and the second round was a handy hunter course that included a trot jump, roll-backs and option jumps.

During the second round, judges were able to award bonus points for brilliance and handiness. French took full advantage by collecting nine bonus points to propel him to the blue.

"The class featured some great jumps like the post and rail fences and wonderful rock walls," said French. "It was all stuff from where hunters originated from and it was so much fun to ride on."

"I appreciate having a class that showcases the hunters," added French. "I am especially glad to win because Purina Mills was here this week and they are a great sponsor of mine and I wanted to have a nice showing for them."

The second installment of the popular class will take place on Saturday, March 21, during Desert Circuit VIII. "HITS is delighted to showcase the hunters in our fabulous Grand Prix Ring," said HITS' Vice President of West Coast Operations, Fred Bauer. "We are looking forward to holding the class again in the second half of the circuit."

Jumping for Joy!

The first half of the HITS Desert Circuit featured six Grand Prix classes, including two FEI World Cup Qualifiers. The highlight of the Grand Prix events took place Week III, during the $50,000 Purina Mills FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan when Will Simpson and Linda Smith's Archie Bunker outlasted a star-studded field, including Olympians McLain Ward and Jill Henselwood to win the blue.

The HITS Desert Circuit features two more FEI World Cup Qualifiers during Desert Circuit IV and Desert Circuit VI and show jumping stars such as Simpson, Richard Spooner, Rich Fellers and Mandy Porter are expected to show.

Kings of the links!

The 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Golf Tournament crowned a new champion during Desert Circuit III when Monarch International came in at -14 to win the tournament that was held at Indian Palms Country Club in Indio, California.

Monarch International was captained by Joe Thorpe and took home the perpetual trophy that was donated by Designs by Arlene. There was a tie for second place in the tournament between the teams captained by Bill McConnell and Max Von Zimmerman, as each team ended the afternoon -9.


Monarch International -14

McConnell -9

Von Zimmerman -9


Sonoma Valley -8

McLain Ward/Guy Thomas -5

Far West Farm -4

Quail Hollow -2

Equifit After Party rocks Thermal!

The first half of the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit has featured several fun, out-of-ring exhibitor parties, including the Equifit After Party that took place after the FEI World Cup Qualifier during Desert Circuit II.

Equifit President Alexandra Cherubini was in town for the party which was the official launch of the Tretorn Riding boots on the West Coast. Guests of the party included Olympic Gold Medal winners McLain Ward and Will Simpson. Mandy Porter was also on hand to celebrate her victory in the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan earlier that night.

Show jumping at HITS Thermal will return with five consecutive weeks of world-class equestrian competition on Tuesday, February 17, with Desert Circuit IV. Desert Circuit IV will feature a full week of classes and competition and be highlighted by Saturday night’s $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan.

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 Credit: ©Flying Horse Photography

Photo Caption: John French and Rumba.


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