Saugerties, NY - Charlie Jayne and Athena, owned by The London Group, captured Sunday's $125,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, to conclude the summer series at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. The win marks Jayne's eighth Grand Prix needed to become eligible for the Pfizer Million and he now enters the Eligible Rider Rankings at lucky number 13.
Jayne, of Elgin, Illinois and Athena were one of 33 horse-and-rider combinations to ride the course designed by Jose "Pepe" Gamarra of Ellenton, Florida, which saw eight pairs advance to the jump-off. "It was a difficult course," said Jayne. "When I walked it I expected maybe four to go clean, I was surprised."
Pepe's first-round course featured 13 efforts, including two different combinations and an open water jump. The track proved difficult as the first four starters failed to go clean until superstars Jeffery Welles of Brewster, New York and Armani, owned by Abigail Wexner & Triton Ventures, succeeded. Like Jayne, this Grand Prix was also Welles' eighth, making him eligible for the Pfizer Million.
Two trips later, Kent Farrington of Chicago, Illinois and Valhalla, owned by Haity McNerney, went clean to guarantee a jump-off. Pepe's course featured a triple combination to a 1.60 meter plank, which proved to be one of the most difficult lines for many on course.
By the end of the first round, Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Vince, owned by Bynum Farms; Peter Leone of Greenwich, Connecticut and Select, owned by Lionshare Farm & Ger Poels; Marie Hecart of Ridgefield, Connecticut and Myself de Breve, owned by Top Stallion; Kate Levy of Wellington, Florida and Vent Du Nord, owned by Kate Levy, LLC; and Candice King of Wellington, Florida aboard Skara Glen's Davos, owned by Skara Glen Stables, all joined Welles, Farrington and Jayne for the jump-off.
The jump-off course featured six jumping efforts, including a combination midway through the course, with a time allowed of 44 seconds. First to go in the jump-off was Welles and Armani who went at a lightning speed to set the pace; however, they had the last fence down and would ultimately place third.
Farrington and Valhalla were next to show and looked to capture the lead, but the pair had three rails down and six time faults, so they had to settle for seventh. Third to show was Torano and Vince, who set the Great American Time to Beat at 33.738 seconds, which took the lead and created thunderous applause for the first double-clear effort of the class.
Leone and Select returned next and had four faults in 34.081 seconds, which would ultimately place them in fourth.
Hecart and Myself De Breve, the winner's of Friday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, looked to capitalize on their recent win. The pair had eight faults in 32.996 seconds, the fastest time in the jump-off, which earned them sixth place.
Next to show was Jayne and Athena, looking for their first victory this year at HITS-on-the-Hudson, and a chance to compete in the Pfizer Million. The pair produced a clean round in 33.340 seconds, less than half a second faster than Torano and Vince to take the lead. "When I first saw Jeffery [Welles] go I knew he was fast," said Jayne. "I just decided to go fast and hope for the best."
The best came through as the remaining two rounds failed to catch Jayne. Levy and Vent Du Nord faced elimination after several refusals, while King and Skara Glen's Davos had four faults in 34.753 seconds to earn a fifth-place ribbon. "She's not so big," Jayne said with a smile of his ten year-old Belgium Warmblood Mare. "I got her when she was eight, she tries very hard and she's really coming into her own."
The young duo have found themselves an opportunity to compete for the richest prize in show jumping history."I'm excited to return in September for the Pfizer Million," said Jayne.
The road to the Pfizer Million goes straight to HITS Culpeper starting with the Winston National on Wednesday, August 18 through August 22 and then the Constitution Classic from August 25 through August 29. As only four Grand Prix qualifiers remain, HITS Culpeper will offer two of the four, those being the $40,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. HITS Culpeper will also feature the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby each Saturday. Show Jumping at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York returns Wednesday, September 1, for two consecutive weeks that will culminate on September 12 with the Pfizer Million Grand Prix and John Fogerty Live-in-Concert.
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, including ticket prices that include the special concert by music legend John Fogerty, please visit our website at HitsShows.com.
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 will take the industry to new heights when it hosts the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties on September 12.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
$125,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Athena The London Group Charlie Jayne $37,500 0 0 33.340
2 Vince Bynum Farms Jimmy Torano $27,500 0 0 33.738
3 Armani Abigail Wexner & Triton Ventures Jeffery Welles $16,250 0 4 32.997
4 Select Lionshare Farm & Ger Poel Peter Leone $10,000 0 4 34.081
5 Skara Glen's Davos Skara Glen Stables Candice King $7,500 0 4 34.753
6 Myself De Breve Top Stallion Marie Hecart $6,250 0 8 32.996
7 Valhalla Haity McNerney Kent Farrington $5,000 0 18 49.022
8 Vent Du Nord Kate Levy, LLC Kate Levy $3,750 0 ELIM
9 Norton De Vains Top Stallion Marie Hecart $3,750 4
10 Toronto AAA Eq LLC Candice King $2,500 4
11 Neilson B Jeanne Hobbs Jeanne Hobbs $2,500 7
12 Baloubet Junior Z Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables Christine McCrea $2,500 8
Photos: Charlie Jayne and Athena in the $125,000 Strongid? C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Saugerties. © ESI Photography.
HITS Account Executive Corporate Sponsorship Lisa Engel, Becky Pitcher of Equine Resources International, a representative of Pfizer Animal Health, and HITS Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock presented the awards to Charlie Jayne and Athena. © ESI Photography.