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McLain Ward captures the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix aboard Phillipa at HITS Saugerties

SAUGERTIES, NY (May 25, 2009)—Two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner McLain Ward captured the blue aboard Sagamore Farm's Phillipa in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix to conclude the HITS-on-the-Hudson I horse show in Saugerties, New York.

The Grand Prix victory was the second of the week for Ward and Phillipa following their win in Friday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. Ward and the 11-year-old Dutch mare were the best of 23 horse-and-rider pairs who challenged German Course Designer Olaf Petersen's first-round course and the five pairs that advanced to the jump-off.

"This mare has been great this year," said Ward. "She was great in Thermal, great in Florida, great at Old Salem Farm and, now, great this week!"

First to show on Petersen's eight-effort jump-off course were Cara Raether and Trelawny Farm's Lord G. The pair had an unlucky rail down midway through the round and finished with four faults. When the class was complete, they would end up in fifth place.

Ward and Phillipa were next to show. They were fast and clean coming all the way home in 41.589 to establish the Great American Time to Beat. As it turned out, their time would hold up, giving them the win and $15,000 in first-place prize money.

Fellow Olympian Margie Engle showed third in the jump-off round aboard Hidden Creek's Coraya Z. Engle guided her horse across the timers without dropping any rails. However, their time of 42.722 was only good enough for third place.

Fourth to go were Tracy Magness and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko's Tarco Van Ter Moude. Magness, who is a regular at HITS Ocala and HITS Culpeper, laid down a clear round of her own in 42.979. That time proved to be good enough for fourth place.

With her top-five finish, Magness earned some valuable points in the USGPL Standings . The top 30 horse/rider combinations in the USGPL Standings will be invited to compete in the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix that will be held during the USGPL Finals at HITS Culpeper this fall. The Maryland native is currently in the lead. Click here for the standings.

Sitting in the enviable last-to-go spot were Lacy Morrone-Cramer and Equisport's Ulysses Van De. The duo went clear but stopped the clocks shy of Ward's time in 42.411 to finish in second place.

The $50,000 EMO Grand Prix featured three past United States Olympic Team riders. The star-studded field boasted Ward, Margie Engle and Leslie Burr-Howard. Former Olympians Anne Kursinski and Chris Kappler were also in Saugerties this week and are expected to show in a number of Grand Prix classes during the spring and summer series.

"The riders are really excited about all of the improvements made here this year," said Ward. "Everything from the new Smartpak Riders Lounge to the new VIP Tent."

When asked about the effect of the half-inch of rain that fell on Saturday night, he commented "if anything, the ring rode even better today than after the rain."

Show jumping at HITS Saugerties will continue on Wednesday, May 27 with HITS-on-the-Hudson II. Highlighting the week for High-Performance Riders will be the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix on Friday and the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix on Sunday. Upcoming special events include the always-popular Taste of HITS on Saturday, May 30 with restaurants from the surrounding area offering samples from their sumptuous and varied menus.

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 Credit: ©Lili Weik Photography

Photo Caption: McLain Ward in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix.


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