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McLain Ward captures the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix aboard Phillipa

SAUGERTIES, NY (May 23, 2009)—The first Grand Prix class of the 2009 HITS Saugerties series of horse shows took place on Friday afternoon with the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. When the class was complete, it was two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner McLain Ward who captured the blue aboard Sagamore Farm’s Phillipa to kick off the weekend at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

Ward and the 11-year-old Dutch mare were the best of 22 horse-and-rider pairs who challenged German Course Designer Olaf Petersen’s first-round course and the eleven pairs that advanced to the jump-off.

“Phillipa has been jumping great this spring and performed well again today,” said Ward. “The footing in the Grand Prix Ring is excellent. I think that’s the reason why a lot of the horses jumped so well and there were so many clear rounds.”

Former Olympian Chris Kappler, added “the new footing lets you go fast in this ring and make tight turns.”

Ward and Phillipa were first to show in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 41.60 right off of the bat. That time would stand, and Ward would go on to collect $7,500 in first-place prize money for Sagamore Farm.

“McLain’s jump-off round was very smooth,” said Petersen. “It did not look like he was going very fast because it was such a controlled ride. He was a very deserving winner!”

Florida Native Daniel Blunam rode Fatalis Fatum to the second-place finish. The duo captured the blue in Wednesday’s $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Jumper Prix to start the week on the right note. Taking third place in Friday’s feature class was Kappler and VDL Oranta.

Ward added to his winnings when he finished in fourth place aboard Lee McKeever’s Miss Liberty 7, while Ricardo Villa rode VDL Buba Lu to a fifth-place finish to round out the list of top finishers in the class.

The $25,000 HITS Grand Prix featured four present and past members of the United States Olympic Team. The star-studded field boasted Ward, Kappler, Margie Engle and Leslie Burr-Howard. Former Olympian Anne Kursinski is also in Saugerties this week and is expected to show in a number of Grand Prix classes during the spring series.

The high-performance riders will be out in full force on Sunday during the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix. “I will be showing the same two horses,” said Ward. “Hopefully, with the same result!”

Stepping Stone Farm’s Amy Momrow leads the way in the Hunter Ring

Amy Momrow had quite the afternoon at HITS Saugerties on Thursday when she captured the Championship in both the Low Hunter and Pre-Green Hunter Divisions aboard Deborah Brenner's Star Quest's Serenade.

Momrow continued her great day when she piloted Monty Kelly's Wolfgang to a Championship in the Baby Green Hunters.

In other action in the hunter rings, it was Jenny Fischer riding Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Caristo's Indiana to the Championship in the Adequan Hunter. The Reserve Championship in the Adequan Hunter went to Killian's Red ridden by Sarah Ann Cahill. In the new Tri-State Hunter division it was Stacie Shepski, who rode Roberta Brossman’s Geppetto to the Championship.

Competition at HITS-on-the-Hudson I is sure to heat up this weekend when the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix takes the stage on Sunday afternoon. Also this weekend at HITS-on-the-Hudson, exhibitors will get the chance to see some classic cars up close and personal when the second-annual HITS-on-the-Hudson Classic Car Showcase comes rolling on to the show grounds this Saturday. Cars will be on display from mid-morning until the end of competition in the Grand Prix ring, when the winning Classic Car will be given the coveted HITS Horse Power Trophy in a special on-field cere mony.

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 is congratulated by HITS’ Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock and HITS' Account Executive for Corporate Sponsorship Lisa Engel after winning the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix.


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