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Revamped Hunter Footing Scores Well in Pre-Season Test at HITS Saugerties

Saugerties, NY - May 14, 2009 - With the opening week of the HITS Saugerties Spring Series fast approaching, HITS management opened the newly resurfaced Main Hunter Ring to trainers for a pre-season test to ensure satisfaction prior to opening day of the horse show.

HITS High Performance Committee Chairman McLain Ward tested the new Grand Prix Ring footing two weeks ago and gave his approval. This week, Olympic gold medalist Michael Page and trainer Leah Epstein were there to try out the footing in the Main Hunter Ring.

Olympian Michael Page arrived at HITS-on-the-Hudson along with almost a dozen students from the Kent School. Page and company hacked around in the Main Hunter Ring, and the Gold Medalist liked what he saw.

"This is great footing," said Page. "The most noticeable thing that I can relay to other exhibitors is that there is no cupping. When the horse show starts next week and exhibitors start to ride on this footing, everyone will be pleased. HITS really got it right."

"I am very optimistic about the footing," said Epstein, head trainer at Ithilien. "I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come and test the footing at HITS and so far, it rides nicely."

The HITS Saugerties Spring Series will run from May 20-24 and is followed by Week II on May 27-31 and Week III on June 3-7. The shows are held at the beautiful HITS-on-the-Hudson facility and will host more than 1,000 horses in hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions.

The hunters will have the opportunity to win their share of prize money at the HITS Saugerties Spring Series. The Amateur-Owner Hunters, Small Junior Hunters, Large Junior Hunters, and Small, Medium, and Large Pony Hunters will each have a $1,000 classic every week. The M&S/NAL Adult Hunters, M&S/NAL Children's Hunters, and Bit O' Straw Classics will each give $500 in prize money every week as well.

In the HITS Saugerties Summer Series, which runs from July 15 to August 2 and August 26 to September 13, there are even more special hunter events available for exhibitors. One highlight is the 2009 USEF Junior Hunter East Coast Championships on July 27-29. Some of the best junior hunters in the nation will converge at Saugerties to compete for $50,000 in prize money.

The Championships feature competition for Small Juniors 15 and Under, Large Juniors 15 and Under, Small Juniors 16-17 and Large Juniors 16-17. Also held during this competition is the popular and prestigious Hunterdon Cup, which offers an exciting equitation championship for junior riders. Equitation classes continue with the USEF/Pessoa Hunter Seat Medal, the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Medal, and the WIHS Equitation Classic.

Pony riders can look forward to the $5,000 Pony Commotion Hunter Classic on Thursday, July 30. This class will be held in the Grand Prix Ring and is a great dress rehearsal for the USEF Pony Finals the following week.

The $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Dietrich Insurance and featuring Walsh Harness and Saddlery, will return this year to Saugerties. The popular class is likened to a "grand prix for show hunters" and features two rounds of competition over natural obstacles. The class will be held this year on Thursday, July 30, and will again be held in the Grand Prix Ring.

To close out the year in Saugerties, HITS will host the 19th annual Marshall & Sterling League National Finals on September 10-13. The Finals is the Grand Finale of the season and highlights the League's most accomplished riders in 12 different divisions. In addition to the four-day competition, it features the Annual Top Ten Awards Dinner, which honors the leading riders in each division based on their performance throughout the season. The League awards more than $30,000 in prize money during the National Finals.

These four special hunter events will be highlights in eight weeks of competition at HITS Saugerties this year. The hunters will have a chance to be front and center by riding in the Grand Prix Ring and earning top prize money. Don't miss your chance at this opportunity!

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: Olympic gold medalist Michael Page tests the footing in the main hunter ring at HITS Saugerties. Photo Chris Mayone/HITS. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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