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Rich Fellers and Flexible Win the $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifier

THERMAL, CA (February 9, 2008)--In an instant replay of last Friday's FEI World Cup Qualifier at HITS Thermal, Rich Fellers and his mount Flexible outlasted a field of 20 combinations in the first round and five pairs in the jump-off to secure his second consecutive victory in the $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan at the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit.

Fellers had the ride for Mr. and Mrs. Harry Chapman and collected $15,000 in prize money. He also grabbed 19 valuable FEI World Cup points putting him near the top of the U.S. West Coast League standings. "I am flabbergasted," said horse owner Harry Chapman. "Two wins in a row is incredible!"

The Chapman's have owned the Irish stallion for eight years. "He had some medical problems and was written off twice," said Chapman. "Then the horse said the heck with you guys, I am going to be a show jumper!"

"I am amazed by this horse," said Fellers. "I am really proud that Mr. and Mrs. Chapman stuck with him. He is on an incredible run."

First to challenge course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio's jump-off route was Joie Gatlin and her mount Camaron Hills Shan Roe. Gatlin won last Sunday's $125,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by EMO aboard her mount but a single rail down left the pair in fourth place.

Next to go in the jump-off were Fellers and Flexible. The combination was a little slower than Gatlin but they left all the rails up stopping the clocks in 38.14. "I watched Joie take the first jump in nine strides and I thought I could get there in eight," said Fellers. "I thought that could shave a second or two off of my time and it paid off!"

Pan Am Games Gold Medal Winner Jill Henselwood rode Stacie Ryan's Black Ice next in the jump-off. Two rails down left the Canadian in fifth place. The 'Master of Faster' Richard Spooner and Ace were the fourth to go in the jump-off and had four faults to finish in third place.

Finally, sitting in the envious last-to-ride spot were Keri Potter and her mount Rockford I. Potter entered the class leading the FEI U.S. West Coast League standings. The combination was quick, but not quite fast enough as they stopped the clocks in 38.21 giving Fellers and Flexible the triumph by less than one-tenth of a second.

With the win, Fellers also earned some valuable points towards the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, March 16 during the all new Championship Week at HITS Thermal. The top 30 pairs based on prize money won on the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit will be invited to compete in the class.

Show jumping at HITS Thermal continues all weekend and will feature the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix on Sunday, February 10. DC III also features several fun out-of-ring activities. On Saturday, February 9 the HITS Thermal Equine Idol will take place when exhibitors will sing their hearts out for great prizes and bragging rights. The judges for the contest will be Mark Bone of Huntover Farm, John French of Waldenbrook Farm and Kathy Hobstetter of ShowBiz Magazine. The party starts at 6 pm and will have free food and a cash bar for all exhibitors to enjoy.

After Sunday's feature class, the circuit takes a one-week hiatus. Then competition at HITS Thermal returns on Tuesday, February 19 for four consecutive weeks of shows and runs until Sunday, March 16 when the new Desert Circuit Championship will close out the season with 17 different championship classes, including the R.W. Mutch Equitation Classic and the first-ever $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix of the Desert.

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

İFlying Horse Photography

Rich Fellers and Flexible are congratulated by sponsors after winning the 50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan at HITS Thermal


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