Ocala, FL - March 18, 2011 - It seems the luck of the Irish was with German High-Performance rider Andre Thieme yesterday when he piloted his own Uvalier to a blazingly fast finish in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. The win marks his third of the season and the second in five days for Thieme who, just last Sunday, rode Seth Vallhonrat's Coco 135 to an exciting victory in the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
This week, International Course Designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Muenchen, Germany brings his design expertise to Ocala and the final two Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix Qualifiers of the HITS winter show season. Petersen just finished designing courses at the HITS Desert Circuit’s finale week in Thermal, California, where Lucy Davis mastered his track in the $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix, presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach.
"Thermal was great! We had a huge Grand Prix on Sunday, like it should be for a class like that, with some of the best riders in the world," said Petersen. "I'm excited to be in Ocala. It's my first time here and I'm really impressed with the facility. The tree in the center of the Grand Prix ring provides a special atmosphere and the grass around the ring creates a lovely setting. Like all of the HITS venues that I've been to, the footing is very nice and I don't say that lightly. With a great atmosphere and great footing like we have here, it makes my job easier."
In true “Petersen style”, Thursday’s course provided a technical challenge for the 36 starters in the class. Although two of the first three riders on course, Susan Fried and Highridge Farm’s Uranda, and Callan Solem aboard the Torlando Group’s VDL Torlando, were clean, the next 10 trips were not as fortunate. Petersen's course showed its true colors through the rest of the class as many riders endured jumping faults and time faults. By the end of the first round, eight riders advanced to Petersen’s jump-off course, where speed and skill would be put to the ultimate test.
Twenty-one-year-old Daniel Bluman of Westin, Florida moved up in the order and went first in the jump-off aboard his own Fatalis Fatum. In 2009, this dynamic duo had a stellar season at HITS with several top finishes at the HITS Ocala, Saugerties and Culpeper circuits, including an outstanding victory in the $100,000 USGPL Grand Prix in Culpeper, Virginia where, in a split second, they finished ahead of Canadian Silver Medalist Jill Henselwood and her partner Special Ed. This time around, Bluman and Fatalis Fatum were unable to repeat that magic when they knocked down a rail mid-way through the course in a time of 34.300 seconds, which ultimately put them in sixth place.
Solem and VDL Torlando showed next and went clear, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 39.378 seconds. Two trips later she set it again, aboard her second mount Magic Cruise, owned by Horseshoe Trail Farm, when they crossed the timers in 37.998 seconds.
David Tromp of North Salem, New York went next aboard Beyaert Farm, Inc.’s Casey and shaved more than two seconds off the clock to take the lead away from Solem.
Thieme and Uvalier had the benefit of going last and put it all on the line, blazing through the course to the delight of the crowd, crossing the timers in 35.201 seconds to take the win. With his wife and son watching ringside, Thieme led the victory gallop, followed by Tromp in second, and Solem aboard Magic Cruise in third.
“This was a really nice win for us,” said Thieme, after the class. “He [Uvalier] is consistently clean, although he can be a little slow at times. I was very thankful that Olaf [Petersen, Jr.] gave us that inside option in the jump-off. My horse turns tight, so it worked perfectly for us. The course was a typical German-designed course, it was not so big, but it was very technical.”
Thieme has been on fire this season at HITS Ocala, finishing in the money in each of the seven Grand Prix he’s competed in, collecting nearly $60,000 in prize money, so far, aboard his four different mounts. He has $23,000 in money won on his leading mount Coco 135 and seven of the eight Grand Prix needed to become eligible for the Pfizer Million, with the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, the final qualifier of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit just two days away.
As the biggest purse of the season in Ocala, Sunday’s class will help to shape the Pfizer Million Rider Rankings and set the stage for an exciting spring and summer show jumping season at HITS Culpeper and HITS Saugerties, where the road to the Pfizer Million continues with 19 more qualifying opportunities.
This weekend’s grand finale of the 2011 Ocala Winter Circuit has several exciting events on the social calendar. Team Barber, HITS Ocala's Official Veterinary Group, is hosting an end of the season Exhibitor Party which will take place tonight from 6-8pm at the HITS Restaurant. Enjoy a live country music band, friends, and food. All exhibitors are welcome to attend and celebrate another great season of horse shows in the sun. Team Barber will be at it again on Sunday when the Team Barber $25,000 Marshall & Sterling Child/Adult Classic takes place in the Grand Prix ring.
Prior to the Sunday Grand Prix, the Antares Circuit Champions will be honored in the Parade of Champions as well as the Ocala Style of Riding Award. As part of Sunday’s opening ceremonies, the winner of the Thunder Country WTRS 102.3 Radio Station "Ocala Star Search" National Anthem Contest will be unveiled when they sing the National Anthem prior to the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group. The winner will receive a check for $500 from DeLuca Toyota. After the Grand Prix, the Leading Mare Award will be presented, as well as the Catena Leading Rider Award.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
On Wednesday, Canadian Francois Lamontagne rode his own Arise Z to victory in the final $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome of the season. Aaron Vale of Ocala, Florida finished in second and third aboard Joan Kalman's Highlander and Thinkslikeahorse's Weltino B, respectively.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
About SmartPak Equine
Founded in 1999, SmartPak Equine is the country’s largest online and catalog retailer serving the needs of the active and engaged horse owner. The patented SmartPak™ supplement feeding system has simplified the process of feeding horse supplements and medications, making it easier for thousands of riders to keep their horses healthier by ensuring their supplements are being fed correctly. SmartPak’s diverse and expansive product offering includes its own line of supplements, tack, and horse blankets as well as an extensive selection of leading brands of equine health, apparel, tack, and equipment. SmartPak is a six-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree and is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list. SmartPak is backed by Waltham, MA-based North Bridge Growth Equity.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
$25,000 SmartPak, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Uvalier Andre Thieme Andre Thieme $7,500 0 0 35.201
2 Casey Beyaert Farm, Inc. David Tromp $5,500 0 0 35.818
3 Magic Cruise Horseshoe Trail Farm, LLC Callan Solem $3,250 0 0 37.998
4 VDL Torlando Torlando Group Callan Solem $2,000 0 0 39.378
5 Carotino Blue River Farm Sales Germaine Edelmann $1,500 0 0 42.110
6 Fatalis Fatum Daniel Bluman, LLC Daniel Bluman $1,250 0 4 34.300
7 Luke 54 Equi-Sport, LLC Adam Cramer $1,000 0 4 38.784
8 Uranda Highridge Farm Susan Fried $750 0 4 39.081
9 Crelido Michael Morrissey Michael Morrissey $750 0 Ret
10 Bull Run's Alpha & Omega Bull Run Jumpers, Inc. Kristen VanderVeen $500 4
11 Texola Aaron Vale / Joan Kalman Aaron Vale $500 4
12 Weltino B Thinkslikeahorse Aaron Vale $500 4
Photos: Andre Thieme of Germany and Uvalier flying high on Olaf Petersen, Jr.'s course for the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Post Time Farm. © ESI Photography.
Lisa Engel of HITS is joined by Mary Weaver, Director of Sales for the Ocala Marriott Group, Corinna Thieme and Max-Andre Thieme in congratulating Andre Thieme after his exciting win in Thursday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © ESI Photography.
Francois Lamontagne and Arise Z on course in Wednesday's $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. © ESI Photography.