Thermal, CA - January 29, 2011 - Canadian Olympian John Pearce made it clear that he is determined to make a return trip to the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix when he scored both the blue and red ribbons in Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.
Pearce, of Bermuda Dunes, California, and Forest View Farm's Chianto took the victory gallop in the Friday's feature class after he got the best of the 33 starters that challenged Canadian Course Designer Danny Foster's first-round course and the 13 pairs that advanced to the jump-off to secure $7,500 in first-place prize money.
"Danny (Foster) did a beautiful job on the course," said Pearce. "For the first Grand Prix of the circuit, he hit it right on the money! He couldn't have done it any better."
"Chianto feels great," added Pearce. "He has had a nice break since showing in the World Equestrian Games (WEG) and I hope he can maintain jumping at this level. If he does, there is no doubt he is a contender to win the Pfizer Million this year."
In Foster's seven-obstacle jump-off round, Pearce was the early leader aboard Forest View Farm's Son of a Gun. The horse-and-rider-combination was the seventh pair to show in the jump-off and set the Great American Time to Beat at 39.517 seconds.
"That horse [Son of a Gun] is going to do a lot of great things this circuit," said Pearce. "I have not shown him since HITS Saugerties, where he was second in the FEI World Cup class. I have a great feeling about what he is going to do this winter."
Pearce and Son of a Gun were on top of the mountain until Pearce returned to the ring aboard Chianto in the 11th spot of the jump-off round. The duo made the dash for the cash crossing the timers in 38.500 seconds to earn the triumph.
Taking third place in Friday's feature class was Karl Cook (Woodside, California) in the irons aboard Signe Otsby's Asb Conquistador and fourth-place honors went to Lisa Carlsen (Spruce Grove, AB, Canada) aboard La Boom Syndicate's La Boom. With Carlsen taking fourth place, three of the top four spots in the class belonged to the Maple leaf all on a course set by a Canadian builder.
After the class, Pearce said he was excited about the likely hood of his qualifying for the second annual Pfizer Million that will take place on Sunday, September 11 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. "We had the best time there last year," said Pearce, who finished third in the historical class aboard Chianto. "The jumps were beautiful and the course was breathtaking. My mother and the rest of my family even came out to watch."
Action for the High-Performance riders at HITS Thermal continues on Sunday when the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, takes the stage in the Strongid® C 2X Stadium. Sunday's feature class is the second of 16 Qualifying Grand Prix at HITS Thermal for the highly-anticipated Pfizer Million as riders on the West Coast look to earn a place in this year’s magnificent class.
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 Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Chianto Forest View Farm John Pearce $7,500 0 0 38.500
2 Son of a Gun Forest View Farm John Pearce $5,500 0 0 39.517
3 Asb Conquistador Signe Otsby Karl Cook $3,250 0 0 41.112
4 La Boom La Book Syndicate Lisa Carlsen $2,000 0 0 44.560
5 Quirino 3 Oscany, Inc. Richard Spooner $1,500 0 4 38.638
6 Taunus Prentis Partners Francie Steinwell-Carvin $1,250 0 4 39.273
7 Lady Like C & S Partnership Richard Spooner $1,000 0 4 39.821
8 Terrific Foxdale Farm John Anderson $750 0 4 40.860
9 George Juniper Farms Jill Henselwood $750 0 4 44.305
10 Mr. Whoopy Simone Coxe Duncan McFarlane $500 0 8 39.465
11 Santika Harrison Farms, LLC Mandy Porter $500 0 10 53.421
12 Billy Bianca Molly Ohrstrom Richard Spooner $500 0 11 58.248
Photos: Canadian Olympian John Pearce rides Son of a Gun in the $25,000 Smartpak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © Flying Horse Photography.
HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock congratulates John Pearce after winning the $25,000 Smartpak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. He accepted both ribbons aboard Son of a Gun. © Flying Horse Photography.