Saugerties, NY — Heading into the HITS-on-the-Hudson show season it was no secret that the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix was going to be one of the most popular classes on the schedule with hunter riders from all over the country vying for a place in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final (September 10-11 at HITS Saugerties).
That sentiment proved to be true when 65 starters took to the field in yesterday’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, the first of seven qualifiers offered this season at HITS Saugerties. Rian Beals of Saugerties, New York, who spent the winter designing courses at the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California, set the course for Saturday’s featured Hunter class.
Amateur rider Ellen Toon of South Salem, New York picked up right where she left off this winter when she and her own Invincible captured the blue ribbon and moved one step closer to qualifying for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final. Back in March, Toon and Invincible finished the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit strong with a second-place finish in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix during Week IV, followed by an exciting victory in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix during Week V when they beat out 70 other horse-and-rider combinations to take home the blue.
At the conclusion of yesterday’s first round, Toon and Invincible were leading the way with a score of 89. Toon made it a point to attend HITS Saugerties just to qualify for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.
“We decided to come to these three weeks of shows with our entire barn,” said Toon. “This was my third [Devoucoux] Hunter Prix, so I should have my five classes by the end of the spring shows, and hopefully I'll be qualified. I was first and second in Ocala this winter, so I am on the right track.”
Once the opening round was complete, the top 15 returned for the second round with all eyes on the leaders. Toon and her ride's first-round top score earned them the right to go last and put a stamp on the victory with a score of 84 for a total of 173.
“I have had this horse for several years and we have had a lot of success showing in the Amateurs,” said Toon. “I have had a lot of help from Jim Toon, Rodney Bross, and Sandy Butt bringing this horse along. He is a true hunter! These classes have been really fun to do. The courses are great and the [Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix] Final sounds very exciting.”
Taking second place honors was Ross Reisner of East Setauket, New York aboard Rachel Schaefer’s Clockwork and the third-place ribbon went to Molly Ashe-Cawley of Wellington, Florida with Stone Horse Farm’s Lady Gaga.
In other action, it’s been Albany’s Stepping Stone Farm that has led the way so far during HITS-on-the-Hudson I. In the Low Hunter Amy Momrow swept the division taking the top prize aboard Hannah Patten’s Wolfgang as well as Reserve honors in the irons of Jessica Pletka’s Blue Monday. In the Baby Green Hunters, Shaine Brooks kept the winning streak alive for the Albany, New York based farm when she took Champion honors aboard Jerry Bilinski’s Close Encounter.
“We are here with 45 horses for all nine weeks of shows throughout the season at HITS Saugerties,” said Stepping Stone Farm’s trainer Monty Kelly. “In our customer’s minds, there is no better place to show in the spring and summer than Saugerties.”
Show jumping at HITS-on-the-Hudson I concludes today with the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. The class will take the stage at 2 pm in the magnificent Strongid C 2X Stadium.
Devoucoux, makers of fine French saddles, is proud to be the title sponsor of each and every qualifying Hunter Prix leading up to this year's phenomenal Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final. The Devoucoux Hunter Prix will be a featured event at all HITS horse shows this season as riders from around the country set out to qualify for the historic Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, which will take place September 10-11 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
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 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 http://www.hitsshows.com/. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY
1 Invincible Ellen Toon Ellen Toon $1,500
2 Clockwork Rachel Schaeffer Ross Reisner $975
3 Lady Gaga Stone Horse Farm, LLC Molly Ashe-Cawley $700
4 Crossroads AG Hunters LLC Chris Nelson $500
5 Donatello Carly Fischer Heather Ann Cahill $400
6 Soulja Boy Stone Horse Farm, LLC Molly Ashe-Cawley $350
7 Paramount Journeys End Farm Amanda Forte $300
8 Blue Monday Jessica Pletka Jessica Pletka $275
Photos: Ellen Toon and Invincible on course in Saturday's $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. © ESI Photography.
Lisa Engel of HITS presents the awards to Ellen Toon and Invincible after they beat out 64 other starters to win the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties. © ESI Photography.