Heck of a Start! HITS Thermal Salutes Its Heroes
RELEASE: February 12, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Chris Mayone
The 2009 HITS Desert Circuit wrapped up its first half on Sunday afternoon, February 8, and was highlighted by the Smartpak Mid-Circuit Awards presented in over 70 divisions during the Parade of Champions in the majestic grand prix ring at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, CA.
The Jennifer Marlborough Freeman Memorial Trophy, awarded to the Mid-Circuit Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35, was presented as well. For the second year in a row, Alison Baileys and her mount, Hollister, were the winners.
"Alison is a tremendous rider and when the pressure is on, you know she is going to deliver," said trainer John French. "She has been training with me for about three years and just keeps getting better and better."
For a complete list of Smartpak Mid-Circuit Awards, visit www.hitsshows.com/thermal/camid-circuitawards_09.htm
. Home Run Derby
Hunters had their chance to shine in the grand prix ring during Desert Circuit III when John French and Rumba won the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby.
French had the ride for Taylor Siebel, who purchased the horse from Newmarket last year and has been showing him in the junior hunters. "Taylor didn't show this week, so I was able to ride him in the derby," said French. "He is a tremendous horse, and Erin Duffy did a nice job when she had him at Newmarket."
A field of 35 horses in the first round was trimmed into a final group of 12 who returned for the second round. The first round was a regular classic course and the second round was a handy hunter course that included a trot jump, roll-backs and option jumps.
During the second round, judges were able to award bonus points for brilliance and handiness. French took full advantage by collecting nine bonus points to propel him to the blue.
"The class featured some great jumps like the post and rail fences and wonderful rock walls," said French. "It was all stuff from where hunters originated from and it was so much fun to ride on."
"I appreciate having a class that showcases the hunters," added French. "I am especially glad to win because Purina Mills was here this week, and they are a great sponsor of mine and I wanted to have a nice showing for them."
The second installment of the popular class will take place on Saturday, March 21, during Desert Circuit VIII. "HITS is delighted to showcase the hunters in our fabulous grand prix ring," said HITS' Vice President of West Coast Operations, Fred Bauer. "We are looking forward to holding the class again in the second half of the circuit."Jumping for Joy
Olympic Gold medal winner Will Simpson raised the roof in the indoor arena at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, CA, when he piloted Linda I. Smith's Archie Bunker to the blue in the $50,000 Purina Mills FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan.
Simpson bested 29 riders over a course built by Bernardo Cabral of Portugal, as well as the six horse-and-rider pairs that advanced to the jump-off en route to winning the first-place check.
"The crowd was just incredible," said Simpson. "I was heading for home and heard everyone yelling ‘Archie!.’ We got it done tonight. That's what I am talking about!"
Simpson took on a star-studded field in the jump-off, including fellow Olympic Gold medal winner McLain Ward. "That was a dream come true," said Simpson. "To have McLain out here on the West Coast and to battle it out with him was perfect."
Archie Bunker is a new ride for Simpson, and the partnership is already paying dividends. “After the Olympics, I thought it was time to relax a little bit," said Simpson. "But then I was blessed to get this fantastic ride. To be able to walk into the ring and be competitive right off the bat is more than I could have ever asked for. I respect thi