HITS Announces New Championship Week at Thermal for 2008 Desert Circuit Featuring $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix
RELEASE: September 27, 2007
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Chris Mayone
HITS, Inc., is pleased to announce that the 2008 Desert Circuit will now include seven weeks of horse shows, with the final week of the series being dedicated to championship classes. This news comes on the heels of several other plans for a revamped circuit, which is set to get underway on Tuesday, January 22, 2008.
The HITS Desert Championship Week will take place as the seventh and final week of the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit. The show will begin on Tuesday, March 11, and feature a full week of classes culminating on Sunday, March 16, with approximately 17 different championships. Included in the schedule are a $25,000 Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper High Classic, $15,000 Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper Low Classic, $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Style Challenge Derby Classic, $5,000 Junior Hunter Classic, $5,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Classic and several equitation classics.
Highlighting Sunday's schedule, and the feature of the 2008 HITS Thermal season, will be the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix. The format to qualify will be similar to the East Coast's United States Grand Prix League (USGPL) Invitational, where riders qualify by competing in eligible grand prix classes throughout the circuit and the top 30, based on grand prix prize money awarded, are invited back for the Invitational.
"Adding this championship Week with special classes for jumpers, hunters and equitation will really bring the circuit to a close on a high note," said Fred Bauer, HITS' Vice President West Coast Operations. "For the grand prix riders, the opportunity to compete for $200,000 on Championship Sunday, and $900,000 throughout the circuit, should attract the very highest level of competition."
With the addition of the Invitational and other schedule enhancements, the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit will feature a total of 17 grand prix events, including four FEI World Cup qualifiers, which will be held in the new covered arena, providing exhibitors a competition setting more comparable to the Finals.
"This is a tremendous addition to the Desert Circuit," said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS, Inc. "We've been looking to add a special championship week for the West Coast community for some time now. This additional week, coupled with the other refinements we have planned, will make for a remarkable winter circuit."
Topping the list of refinements for the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit are the creation of additional riding areas, enhanced jumps and ring decoration, installation of arena lighting for grand prix, grand prix schooling and main hunter rings, and improved ringside shade areas for horses and shaded seating for spectators, just to name a few.
HITS has also finalized plans with Bart Poels, footing specialist for the 2008 Olympics Games, to oversee footing in all rings, with a special focus on the grand prix footing.
Other well-known experts joining forces with HITS include Olaf Petersen for jump designs, Anthony D'Ambrosio as jumper liaison and Ric Orlando of New World Home Cooking Co. as the new VIP Oasis Club Chef.
In addition, as part of the deal that secured the seventh week for the 2008 Desert Circuit, Dale Harvey will join HITS as a member of the West Coast Management Team.
Plans are also underway for a pre-season open house event scheduled for November 10-11 at the Desert Horse Park.
"Our goal for the 2008 show season is to exceed expectations," said Struzzieri. "Since the final day of the 2007 circuit we've been working to ensure that our second season in Thermal will surpass anything we've ever done. We are investing in Thermal and all our facilities so that our customers will enjoy an unmatched show experience whenever they show with HITS."
For the past 15 years, HITS has produced a six-week winter horse show circuit in Indio, CA. The 2007 HITS Desert Circuit was held at the new state-of-the-art HITS Desert Horse Park