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John French and Tache Rouge Score Victory in $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Classic

THERMAL, CA (March 15, 2008)—John French rode Tache Rouge to victory in front of an energetic crowd on Friday evening in the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Classic to kickoff an exciting season-finale weekend at HITS Thermal.

French, from Gilroy, California, had the ride for owner Alison Baileys and collected $3,000 in first-place prize money. "I knew that horse would be super," said French. "Despite all of the obstacles on the course, there was no way that he would be spooked. I hadn't been on him in over a year and, thankfully, the owner was nice enough to let me ride him."

A field of 35 combinations in the first round were trimmed into a final round of 12 exhibitors who were asked to come back and compete for a final test. 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, all under the lights in HITS' Grand Prix ring. During the second round, judges were able to award bonus points for brilliance and handiness.

French and his mount achieved the top score in both the first and second rounds to secure the victory. He also was seventh aboard Type Cast and 10th aboard Obelix. Rounding out the top-three finishers were Lucy Davis aboard Clockwork in second and Natalie Rae Medlock aboard Y2K took third.

"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."

The $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Classic was the second installment of the class during the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit. During DC III, Jenny Karazissis took the blue aboard El Campeon's Swoon. On Friday evening, she was very competitive finishing fourth aboard Aragon.

"We are delighted with the turnout of both horses and spectators," said HITS' Vice President of West Coast Operations Fred Bauer. "The people really came out in full force to support the hunters and helped to make it a great event."

"The crowd made the class really special," added French. "When I walked into the ring I felt the crowed buzzing."

Competition at HITS Thermal continues all weekend with the all-new DC Championship Week. DC Championship marks the debut of the R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Classic on the West Coast on Saturday, March 15. Then, on Sunday, March 16 the crown jewel of the week, the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix. In all, more than 30 different champion classes and nearly $400,000 in prize money will be offered for the week.

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: ©Flying Horse Photography: John French and Tache Rouge are congratulated by HITS' Director of Awards Wendy Metzger and HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock after winning the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Classic at HITS Thermal.


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