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Purina Mills wins the Central Equine Relay at HITS Ocala

OCALA, FL (February 17, 2009)--The popular Central Equine Relay crowned its winning team on Friday night at HITS Ocala when Team Purina Mills grabbed the blue ribbon under the lights in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Post Time Farm, in Ocala, Florida.

The winning team was comprised of Sergio Campos, Libby McKinney and Mariana Savage, and bested 11 other teams to win the class. Taking second place in the Central Equine Relay was Team Devoucoux. Members of the red-ribbon winning team were Hayley Waters, Kristen Brown and Lauren Keller. Team Antarès with Jared Petersen, Jordan Coyne and Jennifer Childs grabbed the yellow ribbon.

"The crowd was awesome," said Campos. "It seemed like the entire horse show gathered around the Grand Prix Ring to watch. I am so happy that we could win the relay and represent Purina Mills."

The Central Equine Relay is an event in which teams of three riders compete in a Nation's Cup-style class. In addition to the Central Equine Relay, Central Equine is the title sponsor of the Central Equine Junior Medal Division of the Marshall & Sterling League, which is featured nationwide at all HITS Horse Shows.

Central Equine is an equine communications company whose goal is to connect the show horse world's riders, trainers, horses, retailers, horse shows and events together more quickly and more efficiently through the web, thus making Central Equine the essential equine resource.

Still on Top

Maryland's Tracy Magness used another blue-ribbon effort in Thursday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix to remain in the lead of the Catena Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider Award. The presentation of the Catena Leading Lady Rider Award will take place during the Ocala Winter Celebration on Sunday, March 15.

The leading female Grand Prix rider on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit will receive a timepiece from Catena, USA, with 29 hand-cut diamonds on the bezel and a white mother-of-pearl dial with 12 diamonds on the dial of the watch.

"It's a long road ahead," said Magness. "There are a lot of great female riders here so it's an honor to be in the early lead."

In other action, Aaron Vale captured the blue in the $50,000 Duggan Brothers Equipment Grand Prix aboard Joan Kalman's Tarco.

The Grand Prix schedule continues during the Ocala Masters on Thursday when the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix takes the stage and on Sunday when the $75,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix gets underway.

Good as Gold

Thursday night, over 150 well-attired guests attended the Equine Art Gala and Silent Auction to benefit the Humane Society of Marion County held at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club.

Guests enjoyed exquisite equine artwork ranging from the 9’ driftwood horse sculpture by Lindsey Molyneux to equine frescoes by Eric Smith, and program cover artist Mary Verandeaux’s paintings.

Carousel horses by Marsha Schloesser and sculptures by Mindy Colton, in addition to works by artists such as Lissa Friedman were on display throughout the renowned Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club clubhouse. The artists had the opportunity to discuss their works with HITS guests while everyone enjoyed the live classical guitar music and complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Participating artists included:

Karen Bowden

Suzi Berg

Mindy Colton

Sharon Crute

Bobbie Deuell

Phyllis Frazier

Lissa Friedman

Todd Keith

Lynn Liljeblad

Lindsey Molyneux

Joanna Zeller Quentin

Marsha Schloesser

Eric Smith

Mary Verrandeaux

More than $1,500 was raised for the Humane Society of Marion County. Contributors to the auction included CWD, Lili Weik Photography, Joanne Zeller Quentin, Phyllis Frazier, Devoucoux, Shorty’s Loft, EquiFit, Todd Keith Photography and The Classic Horse.

"It was a wonderful event and we feel very honored to have been the sole recipient of the proceeds from the silent auction," said Bruce Fishalow, Director of the Human Society of Marion County.

“Once again, Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club provided the perfect backdrop for an elegant evening and an environment perfect for socializing and viewing fabulous equine art. The live entertainment, fine wine and silent auction rounded out the evening. The combination couldn’t have been better!” said Lisa Engel, Corporate Sponsorship and Marketing.

Looking Ahead

Show jumping action at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit is underway this week with the Ocala Masters, and features a full week of classes, including Sunday's $75,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix.

Highlighting the week is the popular World of the Horse exhibition, presented by Ocalahorse.com. Numerous breeds of horses will be represented in a colorful parade sure to delight all horse lovers. The action takes place around noon in the Grand Prix ring prior to Sunday's feature class.

Ocala’s famed Felix's restaurant will cater the VIP lunch on Sunday. The historic 1890's setting of Felix's restaurant regularly delights HITS exhibitors. Located just past the square on Highway 40, the pink Victorian house is where award-winning dining resides, providing great aged beef, sumptuous vegetarian dishes and the attractive half-portion option. Felix's truly has a diverse offering of high-quality dishes that will appeal to all. While the dining here is one of the best Ocala has to offer, the atmosphere is 'Ocala casual.' VIP Patrons will get a second chance to indulge and enjoy Felix's luncheon again on Sunday, March 8.

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: ©2009 Lili Weik Photography

Photo Caption: Libby McKinney, Sergio Campos and Mariana Savage are congratulated after winning the Central Equine Relay.


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