HITS Thermal Mid-Circuit Report
RELEASE: February 17, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By the HITS Media Team
Photo by Flying Horse Photography (McLain Ward and Goldika 559 on course in the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.)
Canadian Olympian John Anderson sealed the first half of the HITS Desert Circuit with a kiss on Valentine's Day when he captured the blue ribbon aboard Terrific in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, on Sunday afternoon at the HITS Desert Horse Park, in Thermal, CA.
The win marked the second victory of the circuit for Anderson and his mount, Terrific. Together this dynamic duo has amassed $38,400 in prize money and six grand prix classes towards the eight needed to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix that will be held on September 12 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, NY.
Thanks to all his winnings, Anderson is also in the lead for the Catena Leading Grand Prix Rider Award. The top-ranked grand prix rider on the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit will receive a beautiful Catena diamond-face watch at the conclusion of the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert on Sunday, March 14.
"You can't argue with results of my horse. He really has been 'Terrific,'" said Anderson. "He has put some good mileage on him at Thermal so far, and we are looking forward to the big $300,000 class at the end of the circuit."
The 2010 HITS Desert Circuit is Anderson's first time back to the desert in a while and he’s very impressed with what he has seen so far. "I run horse shows myself at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, so I know the hard work and effort it takes to get a venue going, and this place is certainly a state-of-the-art facility," said Anderson.
Anderson was not the only decorated Olympic rider to excel during the first half of the HITS Desert Circuit. During Desert Circuit III alone, the week of competition featured three grand prix classes and they were swept by riders who all have Olympic experience.
In Thursday's $30,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner McLain Ward took the blue ribbon aboard Goldika 559. Ward, from Brewster, NY, made the most of his journey to the West Coast, as he won a pair of grand prix classes during his two-week stay at HITS Thermal. During Desert Circuit II, Ward rode Sagamore Farm's Phillipa to the top prize in the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
John Pearce and Forest View Farm's Son of a Gun made their way to the top of the mountain when they won the $50,000 CSI-W HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health on Saturday night. The Canadian Olympian finally found his way to the winners' circle after several top finishes during the first three weeks of the circuit. In Saturday night's feature class, they were the only team to escape course designer Olaf Petersen Jr.'s first-round course to earn some valuable prize money towards qualifying for the Pfizer Million.
The $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, featured riders from seven different nations, including Mexico's Jose-Alberto Martinez, who was second aboard Leonard. It's his first trip to HITS Thermal as he has his eyes on qualifying for the FEI World Cup and the Pfizer Million.
"Everything in Thermal is very nice," said Martinez. "I like the show grounds and the footing. I am looking to qualify for the $1 Million class and so are some other riders from my country. I told them my intentions and the riders from Mexico are very well informed about the big class in New York (HITS Saugerties)."
Martinez is just 21 and becoming a HITS veteran. He traveled to HITS Culpeper last July with a group of riders from Mexico and already has a Team Silver medal under his belt from the 2008 North American Young Riders Championships with the North Mexico team.
During the second half at HITS Thermal, Martinez said that other riders from Mexico will be coming to HITS Thermal to earn FEI World Cup Points and to try to qualify for the Pfizer Million. "I told them how nice it is here," said Martinez. "Everyone is very excited." SmartPak Mid-Circuit Awards Honor Top Riders
Ned and Hope Glynn and the Sonoma Valley Stables' team packed up many of the SmartPak Mid-Circuit Championships before heading back to Northern California. “We are sad to go! The weather has been great, the footing is super and everyone had a good time. Every year it gets better here so we will be excited to be back again in 2011," said Glynn.
Ilene Zauderer, who rides with the Glynn’s, made her first trip to HITS Thermal this year for the first half of the circuit and left with the Smartpak Mid-Circuit Championship in the 2’6” Adult Hunters on Karlson and was Reserve Champion in the Baby Green Hunters on Ruby Music.
Another client of the Glynn's is Helen McEvoy. She has been at HITS Thermal for the last three years, and this year brought some of her baby horses to get some show miles. Avedon, owned by McEvoy, was champion all three weeks in the Baby Green Division and ran away with the SmartPak Mid-Circuit Championship.
“HITS Thermal has been a great success for us in and out of the show ring," said Ned Glynn. "We sold and leased several horses during our stay, and we are happy to be bringing some new horses home. That is what everyone hopes for from a horse show."
The group of riders from Joie Gatlin-Morley Abey Show Jumping made sure some of the SmartPak Mid-Circuit Awards stayed in Southern California. Gatlin won the top prize in the Level 3 Jumpers aboard Hippie Du Blagny, while in the Low Amateur/Owner Hunters Cathy Morris-Schmitt took the top honors aboard Caymus.
"HITS Thermal has met and surpassed all of our expectations," said Abey. "With El Nino showing its wrath in our home town of San Juan Capistrano, we are blessed with the best weather in the country right here in Thermal. With the first three weeks behind us and some nice prize money in our pockets, we are excited to see what the second half has in store for us."
For a complete list of the SmartPak Mid-Circuit Champions, visit www.hitsshows.com/thermal/ca_half-circuit_10.htm
.Hunter Derbies Delivers
The $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby has been a tremendous success during the first half of the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit. During its inaugural week, it was John French winning the class aboard Over the Moon. In the first edition of the Derby, French finished with four horses in the top eight, proving that he is one of the top hunter riders in the world.
During Desert Circuit II, teenager Melissa Doddridge took top honors in the Devoucoux Derby. Doddridge, from Tustin, CA, took out some of the top hunter riders on the West Coast when she rode her horse Bentley to the blue and piloted Pamela Doddridge's Best Man to the red ribbon.
The lights were shining brightly on Friday evening, February 12, when the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse
/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby took the stage in the magnificent Grand Prix ring at the HITS Desert Horse Park
Forty-one pairs went after the top prize in the class, and in the end it was Yellow Dog Farm's Crown Affair, ridden by John French, who stole the glory before an enthusiastic crowd that surrounded the berms and filled the Oasis VIP Club.
French, who is regarded as one of the premiere hunter riders in the world, was not done yet. With six horses in the class, he also guided Jessie Singer's Cruise to the red ribbon en route to collecting $5,000 in total prize money. "I am blessed to have such great horses to ride," said French. "Everything seemed to go right tonight. Both horses loved to gallop in the big arena. It was a great course built by John Manning. He let the horses decide the outcome."
"The main character of the Derby was the incredible 300’-by-400’ arena that spread out the course with only two related distances," said Manning. "The big ring does well in recreating a hunt field image that the class was designed for."
The top 12 pairs came back for Manning's Handy Course, which featured a bounce, rollbacks, options and a hand gallop to test the horses and riders from an entirely different perspective.
Also excelling in the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby was Jessie Lang of Jackson, WY, who grabbed the yellow ribbon in the irons of Margrot Snowdown's C. Quito. Taking fourth place was Jenny Karazissis of Calabasas, CA, who rode Holly Scapa's Bingo Bongo, while Melissa Doddridge of Tustin, CA, piloted Pamela Doddridge's Bentley to a fifth-place finish to round out the top five in the class.
Hunter riders will have three more opportunities to compete in a hunter derby class when show jumping returns to the HITS Desert Horse Park for Desert Circuit IV, V and VI. The $10,000 Devoucoux Derby will be offered on Sunday, February 28, March 7 and March 14.
"A weekly derby is outstanding," said French. “It gives all of the hunter riders something to look forward to. I think the popularity of the class will grow each week and by the end of the circuit, I bet there will be 100 horses in it."
This winter, the all-new Devoucoux Hunter Derby will be a featured event at both the HITS Desert Circuit and the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit in Ocala, FL, and represents the 13th division to count for points in the Marshall & Sterling League. In addition to the $10,000 classes at HITS winter shows in Thermal and Ocala, qualifying classes for the Devoucoux Hunter Derby will also be offered at the HITS Culpeper and HITS Saugerties shows this spring and summer. HITS has also invited a select number of additional horse shows in the Northeast to add the Devoucoux Hunter Derby to their show schedules, which will help facilitate the growth of the class and provide further qualifying opportunities for the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals. The Devoucoux Derby Finals will be offered at the 2010 Marshall & Sterling League National Finals on September 16-19 in Saugerties, NY. For a complete list of horse shows offering the Devoucoux Hunter Derby for Marshall & Sterling points, please visit www.hitsshows.com/marshallsterling/hunter%20derby%20calendar.html
.Out-of-the Ring Fun
The first half of the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit also featured plenty of fun outside of the ring. During Desert Circuit II, more than two dozen of the top Grand Prix riders from the HITS Desert Circuit were honored at the Pfizer High-Performance Riders Dinner at the newly-opened Morgan’s in the Desert restaurant at La Quinta Resort & Club. Guests enjoyed a bounty of delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by Morgan’s star chef, Jimmy Schmidt, complemented by a selection of California red and white wines.
The annual HITS Desert Circuit Golf Tournament also took place between Desert Circuit II and Desert Circuit III at the exclusive Bermuda Dunes Country Club. When the event was over, the team captained by trainer Joe Thorpe would come out on top.
Sponsors of the tournament were Willowbrook Stables, Sanjay Bagai, Bridgeport Farm, Rubicon Stables and Sonoma Valley Stables. Thanks to their generosity, golfers received a gift bag and prize packages from the golf course. What's Next?
Show jumping at the HITS Desert Circuit resumes on Tuesday, February 23, with Desert Circuit IV. In addition to hosting the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby on Sunday, February 28, HITS Thermal will also feature three more Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix qualifiers, including the $50,000 Purina Mills CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, on Saturday night in the indoor arena.
In Saturday night's big-money class, riders will look to gain valuable points in the Royal Champion Leading World Cup Rider Standings. So far, Pearce is in the lead thanks to his win in last week's FEI World Cup Qualifier and a third-place finish in the $50,000 CSI-W Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during Desert Circuit II.
Highlighting the second half of the HITS Desert Circuit will be the big-ticket $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Pfizer Animal Health on Sunday, March 14. The season finale represents the largest purse ever offered on the West Coast and is the final qualifier of the season for the Pfizer Million. With a first-place payout of $90,000, this class is on everyone’s radar as a win or a top placing in the class will catapult a qualified rider to the top of the Pfizer Million Rider Rankings.
This celebrated day will also feature the presentation of the Antarès Grand Circuit Champion Awards during the ever-popular Parade of Champions, which will take place in the Grand Prix ring before world renowned Grand Prix riders take aim at the course.
And, don’t forget, if you want to simplify those entries at HITS Desert Circuit, simply visit the show office and try out Equestrian Connect’s complimentary online entry system. Finding your horses’ and riders’ registration numbers has never been easier.
In order to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, a rider must compete in eight or more HITS Grand Prix classes. The top 40 riders, based on money won by horse/rider combination, will be eligible to ride for the Pfizer Million. For more detailed information on the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, or for more information on all HITS events, please visit www.HitsShows.com