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Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club to Host First Ever HITS Ocala Equine Art Reception

OCALA, FL (February 23, 2008)—HITS Ocala is proud to announce that the Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club will sponsor and host an evening of exceptional equine art during the inaugural HITS Ocala Equine Art Reception on Thursday, February 28. This exclusive, by invitation-only event takes place from 6 pm to 10 pm in the magnificent Clubhouse of the Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, located on US Highway 27, a few miles away from the show grounds.

The reception will feature the works of Melissa Mason the HITS Ocala Cover Artist for the 2008 Official Show Program. Mason's extraordinary original acrylic painting "Tequila Sunrise" was selected from dozens of submissions received by HITS Art Director Leslie Phillips. According to Phillips, it was Mason's use of color and abstract that caught her eye and inspired her to put the piece in the final seven for approval.

"There were several really nice pieces we received, some more realistic but there was just something special about the colors in that one," said Phillips. "Once we narrowed it down, I was really vying for that one and, luckily, Tom [Struzzieri] agreed."

"This is a new encounter for me," said Mason. "I saw a call for artists in one of the publications and thought that 'Tequila Sunrise' would be the perfect piece to submit. I had a feeling it would work for the program cover." Mason's horse Raisin was the inspiration for the painting and her husband is credited with the naming of the piece.

Mason is an award-winning artist whose paintings are featured in several private collections throughout Europe and the United States. Most recently, she received the Distinguished Artist Award at the Daytona Beach Art League's Annual Members Show in Daytona Beach, Florida. Mason is a resident of Ponce Inlet, Florida, which is just outside Daytona Beach. In addition to participating in the Equine Art Reception, Mason will be on-site at HITS Ocala during the Ocala Masters, February 26 - March 2 with a selection of works from her collection.

Other artists participating in the reception include Eric Smith of Inverness, Florida who specializes in Equine Frescoes; Mindy Colton who is a well-known sculptor and painter from Orlando, Florida; Bobbie Deuell of Ocala, Florida who specializes in horse portraits and photography; and Bunny Hanley, also from Ocala, who does sculptures in bronze, just to name a few.

Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd., the United States distributors of Vertical Vodka, will be providing a complimentary Martini bar and fine wine. Hors d'oeuvres, cash bar and entertainment will be provided by Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club.

Invitations are available to HITS Ocala exhibitors and sponsors. To request an invitation, please email Lisa Engel of HITS. Guests must provide their invitations at the door. Jacket and proper attire required.

Show jumping at HITS Ocala continues through the weekend with the Ocala Winter Festival featuring the $50,000 Duggan Equipment Grand Prix on Sunday, February 24.

Also on the agenda for the Ocala Winter Festival are several fun out-of-ring activities. On Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23, The Ranch Fitness Center and Spa presents Spa Daze. Both afternoons will feature chair massages and spa services compliments of The Ranch. On Sunday, February 24, the HITS Mardi Gras Exhibitor Bash will follow the Grand Prix at the HITS Restaurant. The event will feature live music by The Saucecats, complimentary food and drink provided by Four Winds Farm, Quiet Hill, Team Barber, Hawkins LLC, Top Call Farm, Doug and Starr Meijer, DC Sales & Marketing, Huntington Ridge, Equine Medical Center of Ocala and The Custom Fox/Fox Meadow Farm.

Show jumping returns to HITS Ocala on Tuesday, February 26 with the Ocala Masters and continues for another two consecutive weeks with the Ocala Tournament, March 4-9 followed by the Ocala Winter Finals, March 11-16. The circuit comes to an end on Sunday, March 16 when the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group closes out the season.

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: 'Round-up' by Melissa Mason. Acrylic on watercolor paper, 41" x 50".


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