HITS Desert Circuit in Review

RELEASE: March 24, 2010

Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood couldn't have imagined a better way to finish the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit than to win the blue and a first-place check of $90,000 in the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard Bradon Construction's Bottom Line.

The decorated grand prix rider has won a Team Silver medal at the Olympics, a Gold medal at the Pan Am Games, and now she can call herself the champion of the richest grand prix in the history of show jumping on the West Coast, which closed out the six-week HITS Desert Circuit at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, CA.

After taking the blue in Sunday's $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard Bottom Line and collecting a cool $90,000 in first-place prize money, the accomplished grand prix rider is making her plans to attend the historic Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix on September 12, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, NY.

Henselwood wasn't the only Canadian High-Performance Rider who excelled at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit. John Pearce on Son of a Gun was amazing in the four FEI World Cup Qualifiers during the circuit, and won the $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, en route to being named the Royal Champion Leading World Cup Rider at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit. Pearce's accomplishments earned him a one-year supply of Royal Champion Supplements and, according to Pearce, he will also be traveling to HITS-on-the-Hudson for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.

Not to be outdone, John Anderson, who was a member of Team Canada in 1988, had several top finishes aboard Foxdale Farm's Terrific en route to winning this year’s Catena Leading Grand Prix Rider Award at HITS Thermal and received a beautiful Catena diamond-faced watch for his efforts.

A host of talented riders took the victory gallop after their Grand Prix triumphs at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit, including two-time Olympic Gold medal winner McLain Ward, New Zealand Olympian Guy Thomas, and World Cup Veteran Keri Potter, just to name a few. These riders, plus many more, have their eyes set on qualifying for the historic Pfizer Million at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, NY, and many are making plans to compete at HITS Saugerties and Culpeper to earn the necessary Grand Prix classes and win enough prize money to make the Top 40 cut for the class. Thanks to her win in Sunday’s featured class, Henselwood now leads the Pfizer Million Eligible Rider Rankings with a total of $104,000 earned in prize money. While Henselwood enjoys safety in the top spot for now, she is joined in the top five by Thomas in second place on Peterbilt with $83,950, Potter in third on Rockford 1 with $53,150, Susan Hutchison in fourth on Cantano with $43,500 and Helen McNaught in fifth on Caballo with $43,000.

Doddridge Does It!
During the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit, teenager Melissa Doddridge and seasoned rider John French went head-to-head in the weekly $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby. On Sunday, March 14, Doddridge catapulted ahead of French in overall prize money won when she piloted three horses to ribbons in the feature class for hunters.

The Tustin, CA, native took the blue ribbon aboard Best Man, the red ribbon in the irons of Delux, and grabbed sixth place in the tack of Bentley, en route to pushing her total winnings in the popular two-round Derby to more than $16,000.

"She won most of the money," said trainer Tracy Baer. "Her horses really love her and she has a family that is very supportive of her riding. This was her first year moving up to the Amateur-Owner Division and she was Circuit Champion with Bentley and Reserve Champion with Best Man."

French did his share of winning as well, collecting more than $15,000 in prize money during the circuit in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derbies, including three victories on a trio of different mounts.

This winter, the all-new Devoucoux Hunter Derby has been 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 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.

Theodore Boris wins the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship at HITS Thermal
Theodore Boris kicked off the weekend festivities when he captured the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship on Saturday night at the HITS Desert Horse Park. Cassandra Kahle took the red ribbon, and Kylee Arbuckle was third, highlighting the top placings in this featured class for equitation riders.

In the two-round Classic that was held in the indoor arena at HITS Thermal, riders competed over a course of fences, which included gymnastics, trot fences, oxers, verticals and combinations. Throughout the competition, riders were not allowed to communicate with their trainers or any other resources—they had to do it all—from preparation of their horse, to course walking—on their own. Scores were given from two sets of judges, one watching the competitors on-course in the ring, and the other observing the schooling area to provide a score based on the rider’s preparation of their horse.

The Classic is held in honor of accomplished equestrian and lifelong artist, R.W. Mutch. An early student of Gordon Wright and Al Homewood, Mutch won the AHSA Medal Finals in 1950 at the age of 15. At 18, he was the youngest rider at the time to ride for the United States Equestrian Team.

HITS Thermal Salutes Its top Riders During the Antarès Grand Circuit Champion Awards
Super Sunday at the HITS Desert Circuit featured the presentation of the Antarès Grand Circuit Champion Awards, held during the ever-popular Parade of Champions, in the Grand Prix ring before the start of the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

Highlighting the Parade of Champions was the presentation of the prestigious perpetual trophies awarded to the top exhibitors for all of their accomplishments during the six-week HITS Thermal circuit, including Boris, who won the Potcreek Meadow Farm Junior Sportsman Award. "When I asked the starters at the back gates for their opinions, it was a unanimous decision," said Cara Anthony, of Potcreek Meadow Farm. "He is a great kid who always has a smile on his face."

Other Awards Winners Included:

— Jennifer Marlborough Freeman Memorial: Cool Men, Kendle Handtmann
— Jimmy Kohn Style of Riding Award: Keri Potter
— Michael Patrick Grand Hunter Champion: Dylan, Tracy Sully
— Catena Leading Grand Prix Rider Award: John Anderson
— Royal Champion Leading World Cup Rider: John Pearce
— Grand Champion of The Arenus Tack Room Decorating Contest: Waldenbrook Farm (John French)
— Exclusive™ Top Dog Competition: Sunshine (Morley Abby) and Coachella (Marshal Whyte)

All Eyes Turn East for the Next Stops on the Road to the Pfizer Million!
Now that the HITS Desert Circuit has come to a close, riders from around the country are working to sharpen their strategy on how to make the cut for this historic class and are already looking ahead to Culpeper and Saugerties to secure the eight grand prix classes needed to become eligible and to win enough prize money to remain in the Top 40.

Riders will have plenty of opportunities over the course of the spring and summer as HITS Culpeper will host five qualifying grand prix classes each worth $40,000 in prize money from April through August, while in Saugerties riders will have a total of 14 qualifying grand prix classes from May through September 5, including the big ticket $125,000 Grand Prix, which will take place on Sunday during Weeks III and VI. Prize Lists for Culpeper and Saugerties are now available at