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Peter Pletcher rides Portofino to the blue in the $10,000 Pre-Green Hunter Classic at HITS Culpeper

Culpeper, VA (September 29, 2008)—Some of the top Pre-Green Hunters in the nation from as far away as Texas faced off for their share of the highest Pre-Green Hunter purse in the nation during Saturday's $10,000 Pre-Green Hunter Classic. When it was all over, Peter Pletcher of Magnolia, Texas had ridden Portofino to first place and the $3,000 check was awarded to owner Far Niente Equine, LLC.

After the class, Pletcher made a comment that was echoed by many others who rode in the Classic. "Showing in the Grand Prix ring was really nice," he said. "It was exciting to be able to compete in the Grand Prix ring and give the greener horses that experience."

The event was a two-round Classic judged by J. Walter Lee of Keswick, Virginia and Peter Stoeckl of Oakville, Ontario. The course was designed by Rian Beals of Saugerties, New York. The class was held in the Grand Prix ring and for all the competing horses, this was their first time in the "big ring" at Culpeper. "Having the class in the Grand Prix ring was great," noted judge Jimmy Lee. "There were a number of entries that showed real promise and I am sure we will see much more from them. Several of them looked quite special."

"This was a terrific class with a challenging course," added Peter Stoeckl. "The last line near our judges position and the bending line to Jump 4 probably offered the greatest challenges."

Portofino was the first horse to enter the ring for the Classic and left with a score of 86, which would prove to be the top score of the afternoon. At the end of the first round there were a total of four scores above 80, but only Pletcher and Portofino would manage a second-round score in the 80's to take charge. His round two score of 84 gave him a total of 170 and the blue ribbon.

Finishing in second place with scores of 78 and 81 was Classic Royale, piloted by Christine Kear of Jarrettsville, Maryland for owner Nicole K. Wood. The third-place ribbon went to Touch of Sun, owned by Liam Madden and ridden by Winn Alden of Bristow, Virginia.

The Pre-Green Hunter Division has an interesting history dating back to the 1970's when the famed hunter judge and trainer Danny Lenehan realized that there were many fine hunters that were not ready to jump 3'6" or higher as was the standard of the day. So, for the Sewickly Horse Show in Pennsylvania that year he created the Pre-Green Division and it has been an important part of hunter competition ever since.

In 1999, HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri recognized that the Pre-Green Division had grown so significantly that it was time for a championship class to be organized as part of the USGPL Finals horse show. In the Classic series' 10-year history, only two riders have had double wins and they are Pletcher who also won in 2000, aboard Diamond Way and Olin Armstrong who had back-to-back wins in 2001 and 2002.

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, Peter Pletcher and Portofino win the $10,000 Pre-Green Hunter Classic at HITS Culpeper.


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