Saugerties, NY - Equestrians from all over the world are reuniting at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York for the first of three consecutive weeks of hunter/jumper show jumping. The competition begins on Wednesday, May 25 and continues until Sunday, June 12 when the Purina Mills Weekend will wrap up the spring shows with its popular Kids Day and the much anticipated $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
For the past several days, horse trailers, RVs, and cars with out-of-state plates have been filtering into Saugerties as the community braces to welcome the thousands of equestrians making their annual pilgrimage to these popular spring horse shows, which are up 20% in attendance over last year's shows.
"I am looking forward to a great season in Saugerties this year," said Patricia Griffith, of Heritage Farm in Katonah, New York. "A priority for our group will be qualifying for the [Diamond Mills] $500,000 Hunter Prix. That will be an event not to be missed. Everyone at Heritage Farm is also excited about the return of the Junior Hunter Finals to Saugerties in the summer. This should be the biggest and best Junior Hunter Finals ever!"
"We are so happy to be back," said Leslie Kogos, of Larkspur Farm in Wilton, Connecticut. "This winter we did a few weeks at HITS Ocala and have always had the spring circuit in Saugerties circled on our calendar. The show schedule here allows us to bring a diverse group of our riders with us, and they each have plenty of classes to compete in."
"We are seeing lots of interest and enthusiasm for our shows in Saugerties," said Tom Struzzieri, HITS President and CEO. "Certainly the fever to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final is contributing to that, but we've seen the popularity of the Saugerties shows steadily increase each year as more and more people become familiar with this area and appreciate what we offer at this circuit. If the spring shows being up 20% over last year is any indication, the summer shows are going to be very popular, so people should make their plans early."
The stakes at HITS Saugerties have never been higher! Both hunter and jumper riders will be looking to solidify their place at the Pfizer Million and Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, which will take place at HITS-on-the-Hudson on September 10-11.
The three-week Spring Series will offer the first wave of qualifiers for both events with fantastic prize money at stake. High-Performance riders will have six Grand Prix opportunities, while hunter riders of all ranks will have three chances to earn points for the Diamond Mills Hunter Final in the weekly $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.
Competition kicks off on Wednesday with the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome in the Strongid® C 2X Stadium. The first weekly champions of the circuit will be crowned in the hunter ring on Thursday, as the exhibitors gear up for an action-packed weekend.
Friday offers High-Performance riders their first crack at banking a Pfizer Million Qualifier when the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, rolls into town. Marshall & Sterling League members will also be out in full force when the popular HITS Hunter makes its 2011 debut at HITS-on-the-Hudson giving riders a chance to shine in the popular 2'6" division.
"We went to HITS Culpeper in April and I had four riders compete in the HITS Hunter Division," said trainer Liz Tarter, of Bronxville, New York. "Not only is it a great tune up for their 2'6" weekend classes, but our riders are also determined to earn a spot in the HITS Hunter Division at the Marshall & Sterling League Finals."
Capping off Saturday's competition is the ever-popular $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix which is sure to draw a huge crowd of riders and spectators alike as hunter riders take aim at qualifying for the big-ticket Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final in September. Then on Sunday the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, will round out the weekend.
As always, HITS has plenty of fun social activities planned for the season starting with Friday night's Puttin' Plus Exhibitor Party. Puttin' Plus is located across from the show grounds and the family fun center offers go carts, miniature golf, batting cages and laser tag - all courtesy of HITS! All exhibitors are welcome and can pick up their complimentary wrist bands in the show office anytime this week.
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 www.HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
Photos: Todd Minikus won the first Sunday Grand Prix of the season at HITS Saugerties in 2010. The accomplished equestrian will be looking to repeat his performance later this week. © ESI Photography
Patricia Griffith takes her place in the winners' circle at HITS Saugerties. The professional rider is looking to earn a spot in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final this fall. © ESI Photography