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Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood delivers a one-two punch in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix at HITS Thermal

THERMAL, CA (March 14, 2009)—Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood rode Juniper Farm’s Special Ed to the blue in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix on Friday afternoon in the majestic Grand Prix ring at the HITS Desert Horse Park, in Thermal, California.

Henselwood got the best of 56 riders on course designer Marina Azevedo’s (Campinas, Brazil) first-round course and the 13 who advanced to the jump-off to secure $7,500 in first-place prize money.

Henselwood delivered the perfect one-two punch as she also finished in second place in the irons of Juniper Farms’ Black Ice to collect $13,000 in prize money for the afternoon.

The $25,000 HITS Grand Prix seems like it was the perfect tune-up for Henselwood who is looking to earn even more prize money in Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix.

“I needed a good start-up class for the weekend so I was going to do the Level 7 Jumpers,” said Henselwood. “Then, I said what the heck, I will do the Grand Prix! I usually don’t like to do both Grand Prix classes with my horses because they are getting up in age, so we pick and choose our spots. But after finishing first and second, I guess I made the right decision.”

“Both of my Grand Prix horses love it here,” continued Henselwood. “They really flourish in the nice weather and are each on top of their game when they jump outside in the Grand Prix ring.”

Just six of the 13 horse/rider combinations that advanced to the jump-off would jump double-clear, including Jennifer Crooks and Olivia Cox-Fill and Stella Farm’s S.F Shakira. The pair were third to go in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 46.275. When the class was complete, they would finish in fifth place.

Crooks would sit in the catbird’s seat for three trips until Peter Breakwell and No Drama’s Lucas moved to the top of the leader board after coming home clean in 42.860. When the class was complete, they would finish in fourth place.

The next trip of the jump-off belonged to Henselwood and Black Ice. They became the new class leader after stopping the clock in 41.753 after their clear round.

Richard Spooner, the HITS Desert Circuit’s all-time leading money winner, followed Henselwood and Black Ice. Spooner and C & S Partnership’s Royal Beach Farao were fast and clean but just missed becoming the new class leader by one tenth of a second, in a time of 41.862 to end the class in third place.

Henselwood’s time with Black Ice looked good as it held for two rounds after Spooner’s trip. Then, Henselwood returned aboard Special Ed, her Olympic Grand Prix horse. They made the dash for the cash coming home clean in 41.176 to capture the blue when the class was complete.

“I think the course was perfect,” said Henselwood. “In fact, all of Marina’s courses have been really fabulous this week. She is building her courses for the horses to learn a lesson each time in the ring.”

In the enviable last-to-ride spot were Soehnke Theymann and El Campeon Farm’s El Campeon’s All Star. They had the sixth double-clear round of the day, but were well off Henselwood’s pace, finishing with a time of 53.740 to finish in sixth place to end the class.

Show jumping at HITS Thermal continues all weekend at Desert Circuit VII and features Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix. Look for Henselwood to earn even more prize money as she headlines the list of Grand Prix riders expected to start on Sunday.

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 show 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: Jill Henselwood is on course during the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix.

 

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