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Kevin Babington and Mark Q capture their second Grand Prix win in three weeks

SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (July 25, 2011) --- Irish Olympian Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania and his own Mark Q are on a roll - winning their second Pfizer Million qualifier of the season. At HITS Culpeper, Babington won the $40,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, on July 10. This week, he traveled north to capture the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson IV.

Sunday's course was designed by Marina Azevedo of Campinas, Brazil and welcomed 32 starters. At the end of the first round, six returned for the jump-off.

"The first round course was super," said Babington who cleared it with ease. "It was plenty technical, but fair. A lot of the lines rode well and there was a lot of galloping that really got the horses to open up."

Aaron Vale of Morriston, Florida was the first to return in the jump-off aboard Bonnie Smith's Tibor. With a win earlier in the week in the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome, Vale was a strong favorite, but a rail at the third fence in a time of 45.221 seconds would mean a fourth place finish.

Karen Polle of New York, New York was the next to show and posted a blazing trip in a time of 41.967 seconds with no faults aboard her own What Ever, which set The Great American Time to Beat.

"I thought I was riding for second after watching Karen [Polle] go," Babington commented. "She was super fast."

With a very challenging time to beat, Babington and Mark Q set out to seize the day. After a brilliant turn at the second jump and a brave gallop to the last fence, they shaved almost half a second off Polle's time, finishing in a blistering fast time of 41.594 seconds to take over the lead.

"I thought the jump-off really suited my horse," he said. "It was a long jump-off course with several places to really gallop. My horse has a very long, strong stride, so we were really able to open up on the gallop and go for it."

Germaine Edelmann of Rexford, New York and Blue River Farm Sales' Carotino returned next and had a clear effort in 49.340 seconds, which ultimately settled them into third.

"This horse has been so good to me," said Edelmann. "I'm just so grateful to have a fun and easy horse to ride at this level. It's been great to be able to compete with some of the best in the sport and find success."

Darragh Kenny of Wellington, Florida and Wannahave, owned by The Wannahave Group, were the fifth to show in the jump-off and had four faults in 48.701 seconds to settle into fifth place. Last to show was Australian native Matt Williams, now of Wellington, Florida, aboard Samantha Tuerk's Watch Me VD Mangelaar. They had four faults in 52.226 seconds to take sixth place.

"I plan on qualifying for the Pfizer Million," said Babington, whose win put him one step closer to qualifying. "I still have a few more [Grand Prix] to do, but I think this horse is the right horse for it. This is the third Grand Prix we've won together out of the last four so we've really been doing well together. I'd really like to thank the Bourne's who gave me the opportunity to ride this horse, as well as my family, staff and clients who are always so supportive of me." 

Competition at HITS-on-the-Hudson continues this week and will offer two more qualifiers for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix starting on Friday with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. The stakes get higher when Sunday's Grand Prix offers $75,000 in prize money.

The HITS-on-the-Hudson summer circuit will also offer two more qualifiers for the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, which will take place the weekend of September 10-11 at the HITS-on-the-Hudson show grounds. Also, the prestigious USEF Junior Hunter Final Championship series will take place from August 1-3, to round out an exciting summer of show jumping in Saugerties.

HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit http://www.HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!


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