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Rich Fellers and Flexible return to the winners circle at HITS Thermal

THERMAL, CA (March 7, 2009)óRich Fellers rode Harry and Mollie Chapman's Flexible to the blue in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix on Thursday night in the indoor arena at the HITS Desert Horse Park, in Thermal, California.

Fellers got the best of 32 riders on course designer Guilherme Jorge's first round course and the six who advanced to the jump-off to secure $7,500 in first-place prize money.

Fellers and Flexible, who last year won three of the four FEI World Cup Qualifiers at HITS Thermal en route to a second-place finish in the 2008 FEI World Cup Finals, were first to go in the jump-off. They established the Great American Time to Beat, stopping the clock in 29.68. They would hold the leading time throughout the class to eventually take home the blue.

'It's close to spring time and my little stallion is starting to get a little spring in his step," said Fellers. "He is hitting his stride at just the right time. Saturday night he needs to come up big in the World Cup Qualifier."

Second to show was Guy Thomas and Willow Tree Farm's Carino. A rail down for four faults would result in a third place finish. Richard Spooner, the HITS Desert Circuit's all-time leading money winner, would show next aboard S&B LLC's Ace. Spooner and Ace made a dash for the cash, but were just off of Fellers' time by 3/100 of a second, stopping the clocks in 29.71 after posting a clear round.

Canadian Olympian John Pearce was fourth to go in the jump-off aboard Forest View Farms and Gerald Moore's Chianto. The pair had the time when they stopped the clock in 29.05, but had eight faults and finished in sixth place.

Fellers was back for his second trip of the jump-off, this time is was aboard Kilkenny Crest's Kilkenny Rindo. A rail down at the final obstacle put the pair in fourth place.

In the enviable last-to-ride spot was Mandy Porter and Danielle Korsh's San Diego. Porter and San Diego entered the ring with two Grand Prix wins already at HITS Thermal in 2009. Thursday night, however, would not be their night, as they had a rail down in 30.11 to finish in fifth place and end the class.

Show jumping at HITS Thermal continues all weekend at Desert Circuit VI and features tonight's Central Equine Relay and the $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan on Saturday night.

Saturday nightís FEI World Cup Qualifier is the final of four qualifiers held during the HITS Desert Circuit. Grand Prix riders like Mandy Porter and Ashlee Bond will be fighting it out to earn a spot on the West Coast squad at Aprilís World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.

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.


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