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John Pearce and his Mount Archie Bunker Win the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix

THERMAL, CA (February 11, 2008)—Canadian Olympian John Pearce negotiated the fastest double-clear round aboard Archie Bunker to secure the top prize in Sunday's $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix to conclude a very exciting week of show jumping at HITS Thermal.

Pearce collected $15,000 in prize money as he outlasted 43 combinations in the first round and 10 pairs in the jump-off. Pearce was fourth to go in course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio's jump-off course and set the Great American time to beat at a lightning fast 37.20.

The jump-off featured four clear rounds, including Mandy Porter and Summer who followed Pearce and Archie Bunker in the order. They navigated the course without dropping any rails and stopped the clocks in 39.09. That time was good enough for second place as Pearce was nearly two seconds faster than any other competitor in the round.

"I was feeling it today," said Pearce. "I knew with ten in the jump-off I had to be fast and clean. So, I went into the ring, didn't hold anything back and won some great prize money for the second week in a row!"

Pearce has been cashing in as last Sunday in the $125,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by EMO he was second aboard Archie Bunker and sixth aboard Chianto collecting a total of $33,750 in prize money for the day.

Jill Henselwood was eighth to go in the jump-off aboard Stacie Ryan's Black Ice. The Pan Am Games Gold Medal winner had her first double-clear round of the circuit and stopped the clocks in 39.60 to finish in third place. Henselwood is just getting warm, as she had the flu and missed the first couple of weeks of competition.

Following Henselwood was Jill Humphrey and her mount Lou Bega. The pair posted a clear round in 42.00 to finish in fourth place for Equistar, LLC. Humphrey finished the class with three horses in the money.

Rounding out the top five were Richard Spooner and his mount Cristallo, who had the fastest time of those with four faults in the jump-off. They stopped the clocks in 38.26 to secure $3,000 in prize money for Show Jumping Syndication.

With the win, Pearce also earned some valuable points towards the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, March 16 during the all new Championship Week at HITS Thermal. The top 30 pairs based on prize money won on the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit will be invited to compete in the class.

"The quality of show jumping here compares to some of the best I have seen anywhere in the world," said Pearce. "This place is nothing short of exceptional and I am proud to show my horses here."

"Its been great couple of weeks," said Porter, who competed at DC II and DC III. "HITS has really stepped up this year and has done some great things. The footing in the Grand Prix ring is excellent as well as all of the other jumper rings. I am thrilled with the facility!"

Porter also continued to praise the VIP Oasis Club. VIP Chef Ric Orlando has brought a unique dining experience to the VIP Oasis Club at the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit. "It is a fantastic place to be," said Porter. "Concierge Michael D'Ambrosio truly makes you feel like a VIP. Plus, the food is amazing!"

DC II also featured several run out-of-ring activates, including the first-ever HITS Thermal Equine Idol held on Saturday night. Hundreds watched as more than 30 exhibitors dueled it out for fantastic prizes donated by the generous vendors at HITS Thermal. The judges for the contest were Mark "Randy Jackson" Bone of Huntover Farm, John "Simon Cowell" French of Waldenbrook Farm and Kathy "Paula Adbul" Hobstetter of ShowBiz Magazine.

On Sunday, the ever-popular Kids Day returned to HITS Thermal and featured an afternoon filled with family fun, including a very special Grand Prix rider autograph session after the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix. Among the gracious riders who participated were Pearce, Porter, Ashlee Bond and Thursday's winner of the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix, Kim Farlinger.

The Purina Mills trailer was also on hand for Kids Day and gave out temporary tattoos to the children. They also sponsored the HITS Thermal Equine Idol as well as being the title sponsor of the Sunday Grand Prix. "It was a great weekend for Purina Mills," said Marketing Director Nancy Shearer. "We are thrilled to be associated with all of the HITS horse shows."

In other action at HITS Thermal during DC III, Catie Verano secured the Central Equine Junior Medal and John French of Gilroy, California rode Obelix to the Adequan Hunter Championship to highlight an exciting week of competition. For more information on Central Equine please visit http://www.centralequine.com, and for more information on Adequan please visit http://www.HitsShows.com/press/pdf/adequan.pdf.

The HITS Desert Circuit now takes a one-week hiatus. Then competition at HITS Thermal returns on Tuesday, February 19 for four consecutive weeks of shows and runs until Sunday, March 16 when the new Desert Circuit Championship will close out the season with 17 different championship classes, including the R.W. Mutch Equitation Classic and the first-ever $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix of the Desert.

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

©Flying Horse Photography

John Pearce and Archie Bunker win the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix at HITS Thermal


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