Thermal, CA - Week VI of the HITS Desert Circuit wrapped up with Sunday’s $50,000 Grand Prix sponsored by HorseWare Ireland. It came down to speed as riders and horses went head-to-head, navigating the 1.50 course of 17-jumping efforts designed by Marina Azevedo of Brazil. Four riders from the first round advanced to the jump-off. None would go clean, making time the deciding factor in who would claim the champion title and a hardy piece of the prize purse.
First to return to the HITS Grand Prix Stadium for the jump-off was John Anderson from Calgary, Alberta, riding his own Terrific. Anderson and Terrific performed the jump-off with ease, but had an unfortunate rail at the roll-back to the tall vertical in the center of the ring. With a four-fault score and crossing the timers in 43.434 seconds, Anderson took a short-lived lead. Although that lead would be relinquished, Anderson finished the day in second-place.
Following Anderson’s round was Karl Cook from Woodside, California, riding Tembla owned by Signe Ostby. Cook knew he needed to go fault-free to contend for another Grand Prix win to close out the week. Although Cook and Tembla galloped through the timers in the fastest jump-off time of 37.864 seconds, the pair had two rails down giving them eight-faults and an eventual fourth-place finish.
Third to go into the jump-off was Mexico’s own Enrique Gonzalez riding his horse Chacna. With no clear rounds in place yet, as Gonzalez approached the second fence of the combination, Chacna grazed the back rail giving him a four-fault score. The pair crossed the timers in 45.081 for the eventual third-place finish.
It was then left to the last to go in the HITS Grand Prix Stadium, Kasey Ament from Agoura Hills, California abroad Zuidhoeve, who is owned by Montis Horse Management, LLC. This was Ament’s third ride in the $50,000 HorseWare Ireland Grand Prix, but her first in the jump-off.
With no clear jump-off rounds ahead of her, Ament and Zuidhoeve approached the first two fences of the shortened course trying to stay fault-free to grab the blue, but Ament had an unfortunate rail at the first fence of the combination. Knowing she needed to be the fastest four-faulter, they galloped to the last few jumps and through the timers in 42.505 seconds, shaving a second off Anderson’s time and taking home the win.
“This week’s courses were very technical. My first two horses in today’s Grand Prix really helped me learn the course for my last ride,” said Ament. “I knew I needed to be clear to take the win, but with that rail in the combination I had to kick it into high gear with Zuidhoeve to win; I could not be happier with Zuidhoeve.”
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.