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Hunters Have Variety and Top Classes at HITS Desert Circuit

Thermal, CA - November 20, 2008 - The HITS Desert Circuit, which runs from January 20 to March 22 with eight weeks of competition, will host divisions for every level of hunter rider this year. As one of the biggest and best horse shows in North America, the HITS Desert Circuit is dedicated to supporting the hunter discipline and giving hunter riders a great showing experience. To do this, the HITS Desert Circuit has provided state-of-the-art new footing in the two main hunter rings and scheduled numerous divisions, classics, and two $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derbies for the coming season.

Footing is always at the top of the list for riders when judging the excellence of a horse show. At the HITS Desert Circuit, four competition rings have had top quality Geopad felt footing installed recently, while the other nine rings have fantastic all-weather footing as well. The new footing in the two main hunter rings will be the same materials that were used last year for the grand prix ring and indoor arena, which was praised universally by the High Performance and jumper riders. Geopad felt is the perfect blend of footing to provide a superior competition surface and maximize cushion on take-off and landing.

In addition to top competition surfaces, the hunter rings will host a wide variety of hunter divisions. The 38 hunter divisions available give riders and trainers choices of what classes and heights they can show their horses in. Professional riders have classes ranging from non-rated divisions like the Baby Green Hunters to the four-foot height of the rated Regular Working Hunters. A great division to practice in is the Adequan Hunters, which also has a class that counts toward the Marshall & Sterling League. Non-professional riders over the age of 18 can choose between the Amateur-Owner Hunter, Low Amateur-Owner, or the Adult Amateur Hunter divisions at three different jump heights, or start out in lower divisions at 2'6" in the Modified Adult or Novice Adult Hunters.

Junior hunter riders are divided into four divisions based on their age and the height of the horse and can compete in the Bergdorf Goodman Large Junior 15 & Under Hunters. Other options include the non-rated Children's, Children's Pony, Pre-Child, and Modified Children's Hunter divisions. The youngest set of riders can begin in the Short Stirrup ring and move up to the Everwood Short Stirrup Hunter Horse division or the rated Pony Hunters, which are split into three divisions based on the pony's height.

While these divisions are held every week, there are also special classes for hunter riders. The two biggest events are the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derbies. The first will be held during DC III on Saturday, February 7, while the second derby will be held during DC VIII on Saturday, March 21. These popular classes feature professionals, amateurs, and junior riders competing for top prize money over interesting jumps and challenging courses. Last year's winners were Jenny Karazissis on Swoon at the first derby and John French on Tache Rouge at the second.

Those who want other hunter classics will find them on the HITS Desert Circuit schedule as well. In every week, there are seven hunter classics. They include the $500 Bit O' Straw Hunter Classic for riders that compete at the 2'6" height, $1,000 classics for junior, amateur, and pony hunters, as well as Marshall and Sterling classics for adult and children's hunters. During week five of the circuit, children's and adult hunter riders will have a very special opportunity. Their $5,000 hunter classic will be held in the indoor ring on Friday, February 27.

The 2009 HITS Desert Circuit prize list was mailed out on Thursday, October 23. It is currently available online at http://www.HitsShows.com.

For further information and to view the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit prize list, please visit http://www.HitsShows.com.



HITS DESERT CIRCUIT FAST FACTS

EVENT: HITS Thermal Desert Circuit

WHAT: Eight-week hunter/jumper horse show circuit produced by HITS, Inc. that runs from January through March annually. The Desert Circuit has been a mainstay of West Coast competition for the past 19 years and offers classes ranging from Grand Prix show jumping to a selection of divisions for both the novice and experienced rider. In addition, four of the 16 Grand Prix events at HITS Thermal are FEI World Cup qualifiers. Total Grand Prix prize money offered for the 2009 season is valued at $725,000, which includes the $150,000 Grand Prix of the Desert during the eighth and final week of the Circuit. The HITS Desert Circuit is the winter show home to some of the most accomplished equestrian riders in the world, including Grand Prix rider Richard Spooner who is the all-time leading money winner at the HITS Desert Circuit, as well as some world-famous current and former Olympians.

WHERE:

HITS Desert Horse Park

85-555 Airport Boulevard

Thermal, California 92274

Phone: 760.399.9200 (during horse shows only)

WHEN: Daily, Tuesday - Sunday 8 am to 4 pm during show weeks.

DC I: January 20-25

DC II: January 27 - February 1

DC III: February 3-8

DC IV: February 17-22

DC V: February 24 - March 1

DC VI: March 3-8

DC VII: March 10-15

DC VIII: March 17-22

SEASON HIGHLIGHTS:

Desert Circuit I:

Friday, January 23, $25,000 Grand Prix

Saturday, January 24, Equitation/Medals in the Indoor ring

Sunday, January 25, $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, $5,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic, and $10,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic

Desert Circuit II:

Thursday, January 29, $25,000 Grand Prix (FEI) in the Indoor ring

Friday, January 30, $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic night class in the Indoor ring

Saturday, January 31, $50,000 World Cup Grand Prix (FEI) night class in the Indoor ring

Sunday, February 1, $5,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic, $10,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic and $15,000 Jimmy Williams Classic

Desert Circuit III:

Thursday, February 5, $25,000 Grand Prix (FEI) in the Indoor ring

Friday, February 6, $1,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Classic night class in the Indoor ring and the

Saturday, February 7, $10,000 USHJA Hunter Derby in the Grand Prix ring

$50,000 World Cup Grand Prix (FEI) night class in the Indoor ring

Sunday, February 8, $15,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic, $25,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic and $15,000 Jimmy Williams Classic

Desert Circuit IV:

Thursday, February 19, $25,000 Grand Prix (FEI) in the Indoor ring

Friday, February 20, $1,000 Modified Jr/Amateur Classic night class in the Indoor ring

Saturday, February 21, $50,000 World Cup Grand Prix (FEI) night class in the Indoor ring

Sunday, February 22, $5,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic, $10,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic and $15,000 Jimmy Williams Classic

Desert Circuit V:

Friday, February 27, $25,000 Grand Prix and $5,000 Children's/Adult Hunter Classic

Saturday, February 28, Grooms Class and Pro Medal Class, both night classes

Sunday, March 1, $75,000 Grand Prix, $5,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic and $10,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic

Desert Circuit VI:

Thursday, March 5, $25,000 Grand Prix (FEI) in the Indoor ring

Friday, March 6, Central Equine Relay night class

Saturday, March 7, $50,000 World Cup Grand Prix (FEI) night class in the Indoor ring, Equitation/Medals in the Indoor ring

Sunday, March 8, $5,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic, $10,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic and $15,000 Jimmy Williams Classic

Desert Circuit VII:

Friday, March 13, $25,000 Grand Prix

Sunday, March 15, $50,000 Grand Prix, $5,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic and $10,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic

Desert Circuit VIII:

Friday, March 20, $25,000 Grand Prix and Ronnie W. Mutch Equitation Classic

Saturday, March 21, $10,000 USHJA Hunter Derby in the Grand Prix ring

Sunday, March 22, $150,000 Grand Prix, $15,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Low Classic and $25,000 Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic

ADMISSION:

No admission charge Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday admission is $5 per person, children under 12 are free.

DIRECTIONS:

From points West: From I-10 E. Keep RIGHT to take CA-86 Spur S toward Brawley / El Centro. 6.5 miles. Turn RIGHT onto Airport Blvd. 2.2 miles. End at 85-555 Airport Blvd.

From points East: From I-10 W. Take the Dillon Rd exit toward CA-86S Expressway / Coachella. 0.2 miles. Turn LEFT onto Dillon Rd. 0.7 miles. Turn LEFT to take the CA-86S-Expressway S ramp. 0.2 miles, Merge onto CA-86 Spur S. 5.2 miles Turn RIGHT onto Airport Blvd. 2.2 miles. End at 85-555 Airport Blvd.

SPECTATOR PARKING & ENTRANCE:

Main Entrance, off of Airport Boulevard. Parking is free.

EXHIBITOR ENTRANCES:

Stabling Entrance - Permanent and Temporary Stabling

Main Entrance - Horse Show Office and Competition Rings

THE FACILITY: HITS Desert Horse Park, Thermal, California

The newest addition to the HITS facilities, the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California is one of the largest hunter/jumper horse show venues in the United States and is the new home to the HITS Desert Circuit. This 230-acre, state-of-the-art facility officially opened in January of 2007. There are 14 competition rings for hunter, jumper and equitation classes, including a covered ring for all FEI World Cup Qualifiers offered at Thermal. Shaded spectator seating is available at every ring. Spectator parking is located off Airport Boulevard at the main entrance gate. For a map of the property, please click here.

REFRESHMENTS:

The HITS Desert Horse Park offers one of the best on-site Food Service Pavilions in equestrian sports today. The HITS Bar and Grill serves pizza and cold beer in a spacious air-conditioned lounge. Spectators can grab some lunch and find a grassy spot on the berms while watching some of the world's best show jumping with the entire family in the heart of the Coachella Valley.

SHOPPING:

The Desert Marketplace located near the Grand Prix arena features dozens of shops offering quality equestrian gear, apparel, jewelry, videos and more.

LODGING:

For a complete listing of lodging options near the show grounds, please check out our HITS Thermal Lodging Partners

HITS-TORY:

HITS operated its first West Coast winter circuit back in 1991 with great success. In 1992, HITS produced the Desert Circuit in Indio, California where the circuit continued to grow in popularity and success for the next 15 years. In 2007, HITS debuted its newest facility, the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California, just five miles from the former Indio location. The newest addition to the HITS facilities, the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California is one of the largest hunter/jumper horse show venues in the United States and is the new home to the HITS Desert Circuit.

This 230-acre, state-of-the-art facility officially opened in January of 2007 and boasts more than $20 million in improvements over the former location in Indio, including stabling for more than 3,400 horses and 14 competition rings, featuring a covered ring for all FEI World Cup Qualifiers offered at Thermal. The Desert Circuit has been a mainstay of West Coast competition for the past 19 years and offers classes ranging from Grand Prix show jumping to a selection of divisions for both the novice and experienced rider. In addition to offering more than 250 different classes each week, four of the 16 Grand Prix events at HITS Thermal are FEI World Cup qualifiers. Each year, more than 3,000 horses, 10,500 horsemen and 25,000 spectators attend HITS Thermal and more than $1.5 million in prize money is awarded.

The economic impact of the HITS Desert Circuit on the surrounding community is estimated to be more than $120 million, which reflects spending on food, lodging, living expenses and entertainment in the area during the eight-week circuit.

ON-SITE SCHOOL: For information on HITS' School Station please contact Mary Cunning 802.318.6924 or mycunning@msn.com or schoolstation@msn.com

HITS DESERT HORSE PARK:

Important - use this contact information only during the horse show.

HITS Desert Horse Park

85-555 Airport Blvd.

Thermal, CA 92274

Phone: 760.399.9200

HITS, INC.

319 Main St.

Saugerties, NY 12477

Phone: 845.246.8833

Fax: 845.246.6371

E-mail: info@HitsShows.com

Web site: http://www.HitsShows.com



Photo Credit: Top trainers Joe Thorpe and Keri Kampsen of Sovereign Place with students at the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit. Thorpe is a member of the West Coast Trainers' Committee and provided valuable suggestions to help improve the hunter experience at the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit. Photo (C) 2008 Flying Horse Photography. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.

 

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