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Show jumping stars get ready to compete in Sunday's $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix

Culpeper, VA (September 24, 2008) An abundance of high-performance riders will call HITS Culpeper home this week as show jumping for the USGPL Finals begins today with the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix taking the stage on Sunday.

Headlining the feature class is Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood who comes to the USGPL Finals with the Silver Medal she earned as a member of Team Canada during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Hong Kong. The well-decorated Grand Prix rider won the Invitational last year aboard Black Ice. It's expected that she will be in the irons aboard her other Grand Prix mount, Special Ed, for this year's installment of the big Grand Prix class that closes out the season at HITS Culpeper.

Henselwood is going to have to tangle with the likes of three-time Invitational champion Aaron Vale and this year's USGPL leading rider Patty Stovel, as well as Callan Solem, Tracy Fenney and Tracy Magness if she is going to take the first-place check of over $30,000 back to Canada with her.

Other Grand Prix riders expected to show this week include Michelle Spadone, Laura Linback, Kristen Vanderveen, Mary Lisa Leffler, Eliza Ferguson Shuford, Laura Bowery, Henrik Gundersen, Roberto Teran, Sulu Rose-Reed, Derek Petersen, Mike McCormick, Kelley Robinson, Melissa Rudershausen, Megan Edrick, Chuckie Waters, Matt Hollberg and Ian Silitch.

The Invitational will take place after the presentation of the Grand Circuit Champion Awards for 60 divisions in the majestic Grand Prix ring. Click here for the current circuit award standings. The SHALANNO Style of Riding Award Perpetual Trophy will also be presented prior to the Invitational to the Junior Jumper rider who best exemplifies the American style of equitation as modeled by Olympic medalists Joe Fargis, Conrad Homfeld and George Morris. The award recipient must have the respectful, dignified, courteous and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman. Kylie Wright and Ramsey Carter are two front runners to take home the award this year.

The prestigious week of show jumping will feature a full schedule of classes including the $10,000 Pre-Green Hunter Classic, $15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Low Classic, $25,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner High Classic, $25,000 Devoucoux Wild Card Grand Prix and the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix.

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, Aaron Vale is on course during the 2008 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. Vale has won the Invitational three times and is looking for another triumph on Sunday.


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