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Lauren Hough and Unicum run away with the $40,000 Avalon Saddlery Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper

CULPEPER, VA (September 2, 2008)--Lauren Hough and her mount Unicum closed out the Constitution Classic at HITS Culpeper when the duo posted the fastest double-clear effort in the $40,000 Avalon Saddlery Grand Prix to win the blue ribbon.

Course Designer Ken Krome trimmed a field of 21 starters in the first round down to just four in a jump-off that saw Hough dominate the round when she won the class by nearly six seconds.

Kicking things off in the jump-off was Maryland's Tracy Magness and her Grand Prix horse Tarco Van Ter Moude. Magness and her 12-year-old Belgium-bred horse had a rail down near the end of Krome's six-obstacle jump-off track to finish in fourth place for owner's Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko.

Magness has been riding Tarco Van Ter Moude for about three years now and was named the top Grand Prix rider at HITS Ocala aboard him in 2007. Since that time, she and her trusty horse have competed in many prestigious events such as the Nations Cup in Europe and have used that experience to propel them into the top five of the USGPL Standings.

The $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix will take place during the USGPL Finals at HITS Culpeper later this month and the Standings boast some of the top riders in the sport. Holding onto the top spot is Patty Stovel and her mount Shandor 41, who once again finished in the money during Sunday's Grand Prix.

The pair continued to accumulate points and increase their lead in the standings after a four-fault effort in Sunday's feature class put the duo in third place. Stovel and Shandor 41 now have more than $70,000 in Grand Prix prize money won at HITS shows this season.

"It's great to be at the top," said Stovel. "I just go as fast as I can and try to keep all of the rails up. I guess it has been working for us so far."

Third to show in the jump-off of Sunday's feature class was Alison Robitaille and her mount Via Volo. The combination set the Great American Time to Beat at 47.011. However, when the class was complete, that time would only be good enough for second place and $8,800 in prize money for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone.

Hough and Unicum were next to show and they were clear, making a dash for the cash and stopping the clocks in 41.906 to take home the first-place check of $12,000. "The jump-off had a very difficult inside turn and Lauren mastered it," said Krome. "Overall, it was a great Grand Prix. Four went clear, there was one time fault and seven had just one down so everyone with four faults or less got a paycheck and that was rewarding for me."

"The four that advanced to the jump-off are some of the top professionals that you will see in any jump-off," added Krome.

Show jumping at HITS Culpeper now takes a short break and will resume with the USGPL Finals (September 24-28) and will feature a full schedule of classes including the $10,000 Pre-Green Hunter Classic, $15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Low Classic, $25,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner High Classic, $25,000 Devoucoux Wild Card Grand Prix and the $100,000 Invitational Grand Prix.

The first Culpeper Horse and Colt Show was held at Monte Vista Park in 1897 and it continued for the next 54 years. In the 1980s, show jumping returned to Culpeper in a grand fashion with the opening of Commonwealth Park, one of the finest horse-sport facilities in the country. Some of the richest show jumping events in America have been held at Commonwealth Park, including the $200,000 U.S. Cup, the grand finale for the United States Grand Prix League in 1986. HITS purchased Commonwealth Park in 1997 and began restoring the grounds to its former glory. In 1998, HITS reintroduced the United States Grand Prix League, and has presented the USGPL Finals at Commonwealth Park ever since. Approximately $1 million in total prize money is offered at the six HITS Culpeper events.

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: 2008 Lili Weik Photography; Lauren Hough on course aboard Unicum in the $40,000 Avalon Saddlery Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper.


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