HITS Culpeper Kicks Off with a Win from Peter Leone in the $40,000 EMO Grand Prix, Presented by Pfizer Animal Health
RELEASE: April 29, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By the HITS Media Team
Photo by ESI Photography (Peter Leone and Nerval de la Batia win their first Grand Prix of the season at HITS Culpeper.)
Peter Leone and Nerval de la Batia, owned by the Beaupre Group, are on the road to the Pfizer Million as they took home the victory in Sunday's $40,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, to highlight the Commonwealth National.
"It means a lot to me to come here and kick-off the season," said Leone of Greenwich, CT, who competed in his first of eight needed Pfizer Million Grand Prix qualifiers. "Tom Struzzieri and HITS have done a fantastic thing organizing the [Pfizer] $1 Million Grand Prix as a year-end finale."
Leone was one of 18 to compete on a course designed by Danny Foster of Canada, that only saw four horse-and-rider teams return for the jump-off. "I thought the course was excellent," said Leone. "It was a long and very challenging course."
As the beautiful weather set in, so did the anticipation as the first 11 competitors were unable to secure a clean round. Gavin Moylan and Icon, owned by Meadowville Farm, were 12th to show as the Virginia native and HITS Culpeper veteran earned the first clean round of the class. "When I walked the course the feeling in my stomach said only three to four would go clean," said Leone. At the end of the first round, Leone, Alexa Lowe and Ragan Roberts would join Moylan in the jump-off.
First to show in the jump-off, Moylan was en route to a double-clear effort, but a rail down on the last fence set the pace at four faults in 43.221 seconds. Moylan would ultimately place fourth.
Alexa Lowe and her own Credit Cruise took over the lead next with four faults in 39.829 seconds. The team would ultimately settle into third place.
With only two rounds remaining, Peter Leone and his nine year-old Selle Francais looked for the win. "I thought the jump-off round was unusual," said Leone. "It had a lot of ground and a lot of galloping—but it was a great course." He secured the first double-clear effort as he set the Great American Time to Beat in 39.286 seconds.
Last to show were Ragan Roberts and Quipit L.F., owned by Quipit Group, as the team looked for the win. Roberts was able to score a clean round, however, his time of 47.792 seconds would only be good enough for second place.
The first Grand Prix victory of the year for Leone will undoubtedly give him and Nerval de la Batia momentum heading into the upcoming spring and summer circuits.
"I bought him [Nerval de la Batia] as a six-year-old from Francois Mathy of Belgium," said Leone. "Each year he continues to get better—I'm so lucky that I have such great horses and great owners who let me participate."
"Peter is such a great rider and trains his horses beautifully," said course designer Danny Foster. "I thought it was a great group of competitors out there and a great way to start the season."Life in the Fast Lane
Sarah Lane led the way in the first edition of the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby at HITS Culpeper when she piloted JC Kennedy's Brilliant to the top prize on Saturday at the Commonwealth National at HITS Commonwealth Park, in Culpeper, VA.
Lane was second in the popular two-round derby heading into the handy round aboard Kennedy's 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood and used a second-round score of 85 to take the lead and secure the blue in the class.
“It was a nice course," said Lane. "It had a good open stride and was a nice introduction for young horses and riders that are getting into derby mode.”
Lane, who is a professional rider and works with Patty Stovel, also secured fourth place in the irons of Shoal Creek Stables' Kenya. “HITS has done a good job with the derbies. The natural elements made it a very inviting course," said Lane.
Saturday's feature class for hunters was a family affair for the Lanes. Sarah's younger sister, Caitlin, was fifth riding Ed Lane's Sliver and sixth in the tack of Ed Lane's After Party, as four of the top six ribbons in the class went home with the Lane girls.
Rounding out the top placings in the derby were Celebration, owned by Hannah Spiegler and ridden by Winn Alden and Rainer, ridden by Cathy Inch, and owned by Katrina Ruotsalo, who were second and third, respectively.
This spring and summer the all-new Devoucoux Hunter Derby is a featured event at both HITS Saugerties and HITS Culpeper and represents the 13th division to count for points in the Marshall & Sterling League. The Devoucoux Derby Finals will be offered at the 2010 Marshall & Sterling League National Finals on September 16-19 in Saugerties, NY.
Show Jumping at HITS Culpeper now takes a short break and resumes in July for two consecutive weeks of action with the Showday National (July 7-11) and the Cavalier Classic (July 14-18). Each week features another installment of the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby and a $40,000 Grand Prix. Every Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper is a qualifier for the Pfizer $ 1 Million Grand Prix that will take place at HITS-on-the-Hudson on Sunday, September 12.
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 a complete schedule of HITS classes and events, please visit www.HitsShows.com