HITS $1 Million Pfizer Grand Prix: Top Show Jumping Riders Announce Plans to Qualify
RELEASE: January 21, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Jessica Marie Nemzoff
Photo Courtesy HITS (The beautiful Grand Prix arena at the HITS-on-the-Hudson show grounds in Saugerties, NY.)
As riders gear up for the 2010 grand prix season, qualifying for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix on September 12 in Saugerties, NY, is topping the list of priorities. Kent Farrington, Jimmy Torano, and McLain Ward were among those announcing intentions to become one of only 46 potential riders to vie for a top prize of $350,000 in September.
With a limited number of spots available on the coveted Pfizer Animal Health United States Grand Prix League (USGPL) Rider Rankings, many of the country's top riders have already started making plans for getting to Saugerties in September.
John Brennan of North Run Stables in Warren, VT, offered his insight on the class, citing it as a goal for his students, Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, and Darragh Kenny of Ireland. The Pfizer Million is a "fantastic thing for the sport of show jumping in this country to really raise the bar and have a class that is worth more than any class in Europe. Anyone trying to compete at the highest level will try to qualify, as winning the Pfizer Million will be very prestigious given it is the first $1-million class in the U.S.," Brennan said. Based in Vermont during the summer, Brennan is a regular HITS Saugerties attendee, but plans to "attend more Saugerties shows than usual to take advantage of the Pfizer qualifiers," this year.
Among those intending to qualify is Torano of JET Show Stables in Fort Lauderdale, FL, who plans to get a jump on qualifying by making two trips to HITS Ocala, FL, this winter with both Capitano and Magic Cruise. Reporting that "what draws me to Ocala is qualifying for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix," Torano explained. "That's a lot of money, and we really don't have that in our country."
On the Road to the Pfizer Million, Farrington of Kent Farrington, LLC, in Greenwich, CT, will take his new eight-year-old mare, Valhalla, as well as his seasoned grand prix mount, Up Chiqui, to HITS Ocala for at least one, if not two, qualifiers this winter. Farrington spoke of the value of the Pfizer Million, and considers the "$1 million in prize money to be huge for our sport."
The West Coast Qualifiers will also be well attended as both Michelle Spadone and Ward look to take advantage of the Pfizer Qualifiers that are doubling as FEI World Cup Qualifiers. HITS Thermal Weeks II, III, IV, and V give riders the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. "HITS Thermal offers something Florida doesn't," Ward said, "Two back-to-back FEI World Cup Qualifiers, as opposed to Florida which only has one during that same time (February 3-13).
The $1 Million Pfizer Grand Prix truly speaks volumes for the equestrian sport. Speaking on behalf of the North American Riders Group (NARG), Murray Kessler commended President and CEO of HITS Tom Struzzieri, saying that "from a NARG perspective we are pleased and enthusiastic about what Tom is doing—putting forward big prize money classes like the Pfizer Million really gives riders an opportunity to make a living, riding," explaining that "is really what NARG is pushing for, and we would hope that young riders and grand prix riders support them (HITS) and participate in the upcoming events."
For more information on the 2010 HITS Winter Circuits in Thermal, CA; Ocala, FL: or Tucson, AZ, or for more information on the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, please visit www.HitsShows.com
In order to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, a rider must compete in eight HITS Grand Prix classes. The top 40 riders based on money won by horse-and-rider combination will be eligible to ride for the Pfizer Million. For more detailed information on the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, please visit www.HitsShows.com