HITS Announces Improvements for the 2009 Ocala Winter Circuit
RELEASE: November 26, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Chris Mayone
The 2009 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit is fast approaching, and HITS is pleased to announce several enhancements being made in preparation for the new season, which begins with two consecutive unrated weeks on January 14, 2009, followed by six weeks of AA-rated competition beginning on February 3.
Starting from the ground up, HITS has completed footing upgrades to the property by resurfacing Hunter 6 and the Annex ring, which were the only two rings not completed for last year's circuit. A new drainage system was also installed in the Main Hunter ring and the adjacent schooling area.
Stabling area improvements include 2,000 brand new temporary stalls and new tents, similar to what was used at HITS Saugerties this summer. These new stalls have already been erected on the show grounds and feature wood and steel dividers. A project to install new concrete wash racks throughout the stabling area has also been completed.
Other structural improvements include a new horse show office building near the front entrance to the show grounds to allow for better flow of traffic and people. And ringside, exhibitors and spectators will enjoy covered bleacher seating at each ring, complete with small space heaters for those chillier mornings early on in the circuit.
Aesthetic enhancements include new gardens installed in the corners of the Hunter rings as well as new islands in all the Hunter rings for additional color and beauty.
VIP customers will enjoy catered Sunday brunches courtesy of some of Ocala's most popular restaurants. And new for this season, On the Flipside Cafè will be catering a special breakfast President's Day weekend during the Ocala Masters (Week III) and again for the all-new $5,000 Pony Commotion, which will be held during the Ocala Winter Finals (Week V).
Trainer Mary Babick of Knightsbridge Farm in Freehold, NJ, is a longtime Ocala customer and is looking forward to the 2009 season. "Having been to Post Time Farm since the inception, it's always been a nice property and what HITS is doing now is bringing more creature comforts to both the human and equine customers."
Finally, thanks to the addition of the eighth week to this year's circuit, HITS has made some extra special changes to the schedule and class offerings. Highlights include more Saturday night classes, increased grand prix prize money during Week III, the return of the $10,000 USHJA/Software Solutions International Hunter Derby, new hunter classics for both Children and Adults, the addition of the Ronnie "R.W." Mutch Equitation Classic and of course, the season's grand finale, the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, which will close out the season during the new Ocala Winter Celebration on Sunday, March 15.
"I felt that Ocala was a great product last year and was quite proud of what we accomplished," said Tom Struzzieri, HITS President and CEO. "These additional tweaks we are making for this year, which really came from customer feedback and suggestions, will help to ensure that 2009 is our best year yet in Ocala. And contrary to what people may be thinking, early reservations for 2009 are ahead of last year, which to me speaks to the response to all of our efforts last season."
"Ocala has always been a beautiful place, and each year HITS continues to invest in the overall beautification of the Post Time property. I'm delighted to hear of these great improvements and I can't wait for the new season," said Babick. "There's so much to look forward to. I know the covered bleachers, in particular, will be a great addition for the customers to enjoy while watching their favorite exhibitors!"
As a result of the increase in early reservations, exhibitors are encouraged to make their plans soon. To help with that, HITS has some great lodging partners for this year's shows. They include 12 hotels and one longterm le