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How the West was Won! HITS Thermal and HITS Arizona each Complete Magnificent Winter Circuits

THERMAL, CA (March 27, 2007) -- The 2008 HITS Desert Circuit is over but it leaves behind memories that will last a lifetime.

For the first time in its history, the Circuit featured eight weeks of competition and an unprecedented 18 Grand Prix events worth $925,000 in Grand Prix prize money, including the first-ever $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix on Sunday, March 16. It was fitting that the HITS Desert Circuit’s all-time leading money winner, Richard Spooner and his mount Cristallo, went double clear to capture first place and $60,000 in prize money.

During Spooner’s eight-week stay in the desert, he collected over $200,000 in Grand Prix prize money and even won his 100th career Grand Prix, a milestone no other rider on the west coast had previously accomplished. By the end of the circuit, he had earned his 104th Grand Prix victory. Another milestone for Spooner was the fact that his victory in the $200,000 Invitational was the largest Grand Prix class that he's won to date.

Another Grand Prix rider who excelled in Thermal was Oregon’s Rich Fellers. Riding Harry and Molly Chapman’s Flexible, Fellers captured three of the four $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifiers, presented by Adequan at HITS Thermal to climb on top of the FEI U.S. West Coast League Standings.

The 2008 HITS Desert Circuit also featured two installments of the new $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Classic. On February 11, Jenny Karazissis rode El Campeon's Swoon to victory to close out the first half of the circuit and on March 14, John French rode Tache Rouge to victory to take the top prize in this prestigious Hunter Derby Class.

Equitation was the name of the game at HITS Thermal, as the inaugural R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Classic made history on the West Coast. The class had been a staple of the horse show in Wellington, Florida for a decade but shifted to HITS Thermal in 2008. What makes the class so unique is throughout the competition riders were not allowed to communicate with their trainers or any other resources – they had to do it all, from preparation of their horse to course walking, on their own. Up for the challenge was Redmond, Washington’s Carly Anthony, who won the class, taking the prestigious trophy to the Northwest corner of the country for the first time ever! Anthony's name will now be added to the short list of riders who have earned this prestigious award and will soon be featured on the new R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch website when it relaunches.

The annual crowning of the Circuit Champions took place on Sunday, March 16 in front of a packed house prior to the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix. Hundreds watched as this season's brightest stars received their champion ribbons and awards. Each year, more than 80 Desert Circuit Champions and Reserve Champions are named for the mid-circuit, second half and the Antarès Sellier France Full-Circuit Awards.

Additional Highlights from the 2008 DC Championship at HITS Thermal:

• $25,000 California Horsetrader Jr/A-O Jumper High Classic: Saer Coutler/Paddington

• $10,000 PCHA Jimmy Williams Classic: Richard Spooner/Apache

• $5,000 Junior Hunter Classic: Lucy Davis/Harmony

• $5,000 A-O Hunter Classic: Alison Baileys/Tache Rouge

• $5,000 Pony Hunter Classic: Tara Spencer/Candy Gram

The action at HITS Thermal was not only in the ring, as each week there were several entertaining out-of-ring activities for exhibitors to enjoy. During the first three weeks there was a Dog Costume Contest, the ever-popular Kids Day and a hilarious Equine Idol Competition. The second half of the circuit featured a Fashion Show, presented by Horse Connection that featured some of the top equestrians at HITS Thermal as models, an entertaining Central Equine Relay that was captured by Mandy Porter, Amanda Tallman and Joie Gatlin who rode for Team Devoucoux and a competitive exhibitor Golf Tournament that was won by Premier Truck & Trailer/Video in Demand.

HITS Thermal 2009 Dates

DC I: January 20-25

DC II: January 27 - February 1

DC III: February 3-8

OFF-WEEK, February 9-15

DC IV: February 17-22

DC V: February 24 - March 1

DC VI: March 3-8

DC VII: March 10-15

DC Championship: March 17-22

Grand Prix action highlights show jumping at HITS Arizona

Six weeks of action-packed show jumping at HITS Arizona also came to a close on Sunday, March 16, when Janet Hischer and Vlamenco won the $25,000 Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix.

Often considered the quiet surprise of the HITS Winter Circuits, HITS Arizona is winter show jumping heaven! Every year exhibitors from all over travel to Grand Canyon State to enjoy a great show jumping experience. The six-week circuit featured more than 200 classes each week for every level of riding, and every Sunday a $25,000 Grand Prix provided the exclamation point to an exciting week of competition.

Other Grand Prix winners at HITS Arizona include:

JJ Atkinson and Rambo - $25,000 Central Equine Grand Prix

Peter Bulthuis and Medoc 36 - $25,000 HITS Grand Prix

Gary Brewster and Royal Viali - $25,000 HITS Grand Prix

Romelia Calderon and Pernot - $25,000 HITS Grand Prix

Alison Kroff and Miss Hans - $25,000 HITS Grand Prix

The annual crowning of the HITS Arizona Circuit Champions also took place on Sunday, March 16 prior to the $25,000 Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix. Each year, 58 Champions and Reserve Champions, sponsored by Antarès Sellier France, are named during the Arizona Desert Finals celebrating the season's best of the best. This year, more than $350,000 in prize money was awarded at HITS Arizona.

"Arizona provided something for everyone in 2008," said HITS Arizona's Show Manager Joe Dotoli. "Things really went well and I know everyone that showed with us in Arizona had a positive experience."

HITS Arizona 2009 Dates

Sundance Welcome: January 28 - February 1

Kachina Classic: February 4-8

Tucson Winter Classic: February 11-15

Sahuaro Classic: February 18-22

Arizona Winter Festival: February 25 - March 1

Arizona Desert Finals: March 4-8

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: © Deb Dawson Photography, Janet Hischer and Vlamenco win the$25,000 Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix at HITS Arizona. It was Hischer's first Grand Prix win of the season at HITS Arizona.


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