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The Marshall & Sterling League National Finals crowns its equitation winners

SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (September 15, 2008) Equitation action at the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals shifted into high gear on Sunday with Kimberly Sarrica (Lake Grove, New York) making her way to the top of the podium in the Marshall & Sterling Children's Pony Medal Final.

"It's really special to be here," said Sarrica. "I try really hard when I am at home every day to get better. After school, I go right to the barn and do my homework in the car. Sometimes, I spent six hours a day at the barn."

Sarrica, who has been riding for three years, is 13 and attends Centereach High School on Long Island. She has trained under John Colon for a little over a year at Bristol Lane, in Middle Island, New York.

"The most important thing about Kimberly is that she has a very supportive mother," said Colon. "She is the quintessential horse show mom who drives from horse show to horse show with her daughter all over the East Coast."

Sarrica has flourished under Colon's guidance. In 2007, she just made it into the Finals and this year she walks out with the blue ribbon. She even won the Marshall & Sterling Children's Pony Medal at the Hampton Classic this year.

Alexis Asch (New York, New York) was second in the class and the third place award went to Victoria Ganzi (Chappaqua, New York).

The equitation action continued into the afternoon at HITS-on-the-Hudson with Samantha Kraus (Mt.Sinai, New York) capturing the Marshall & Sterling Children's Horse Medal Final. Sixty-five exhibitors challenged the course in the Grand Prix ring at HITS' state-of-the-art equestrian facility in Saugerties, New York and the top 12 were invited back to test. When the class was complete it was Kraus that would make her way to the winners circle with Kristen Vale, Mary Moeller and her trainer Jen Griffiths handing her a host of awards.

"It's the biggest event of the year," said Kraus. "I work all year to be able to come here."

Kraus is a 10th grader at Mt. Sinai High School. She trains at renowned Beacon Hill Stables with Frank Madden and Griffiths. "She deserves it," said Griffiths. "She gives 100 percent to this sport."

Meg O'Mara (Rumson, New Jersey) who rides with Mary Babick took second capping off a weekend that saw Babick's group take a bunch of ribbons back to their New Jersey farm before heading south to HITS Ocala for the winter. Christina Couper (Weston, Massachusetts) won the third-place ribbon to highlight the class.

The Central Equine Junior Medal took the stage to end the weekend with Michael Desiderio (Chester, New Jersey) winning the blue. Second and third place went to Brittain McNeel (Tampa, Florida) and Nicole Rocheleau (Burlington, Vermont).

Show jumping for the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals has now concluded for another year. The four-day competition offered $35,000 in prize money, as well as numerous perpetual trophies and awards. The Marshall & Sterling League National Finals also featured a festive League Awards Dinner and Party, a popular ice skating party, and an ice cream social that delighted all of the exhibitors.

During the year, riders from coast to coast compete at more than 980 Marshall & Sterling League member horse shows to earn points for a place at the Finals. Since its inception in 1991, the Marshall & Sterling League Finals have provided the goal that has fueled the competitive spirit of child and adult riders at all levels of competition. Click here for the current standings .

Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc. , founded in 1864, is among the largest privately-owned insurance agencies in the United States. For more than a quarter century, Marshall & Sterling has protected precious equine assets with unparalleled service and support, whether the family hunter, a champion race horse or a commercial farm. An employee-owned company, Marshall & Sterling has been recognized by IIABA as one of the nation's top "Best Practice Agencies." The company maintains a national presence and is licensed in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information contact Mary Moeller at 800-836-3046, extension 224.

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; Samantha Kraus on course during the Marshall & Sterling Children's Horse Medal



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