Thermal, CA - Helen McNaught has been a knocking on the door for a Grand Prix win the entire 2010 HITS Desert Circuit. However, after Thursday's $30,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, she not only opened the door, she busted it down as she beat out 28 other riders, finishing two seconds faster than anyone else, to capture the blue ribbon aboard Caballo.
McNaught and Caballo finished third in the $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during Desert Circuit III and then second in the $30,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during Desert Circuit IV before finally taking the victory gallop on Thursday night after posting the fastest clear round in the speed class in Thermal, California.
Despite not having a single victory during the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit, McNaught, from Great Britain, and her mount entered Thursday's class fourth in the preliminary Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix Rider Rankings. Thanks to their first victory of the season, they have won $31,000 in Grand Prix Prize Money and now sit in second place in the latest Standings.
American Course Designer Steve Stephens set a wide-open track in Thursday night’s feature class that allowed riders to get a feel for how he will set the course for Saturday night's $50,000 CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Seven horse-and-rider teams were able to cross the timers with zero faults, while two pairs had time faults. Stephens is the Course Designer that has been tapped to set the course for the Pfizer Million in September.
Setting the pace early was youngster Saer Coulter riding Copernicus Stables' Chalan. They showed in the sixth spot and crossed the timers in 68.17 to land in second place at the end of the class.
McNaught and Caballo showed 13th on Stevens' course and put the pressure on coming home in 66.48 to win the blue. "I have said it all along, I have a great horse for the $1 Million Class. We have been consistent since day one and we are hoping to continue our success throughout the rest of the circuit, " added McNaught.
Also excelling in Thursday night's dash for all of the cash class was Joie Gatlin and Camaron Hills Quick Dollar. Riding in the 27th spot, the Southern California native gave it her all when she left all of the jumps standing and came home in 69.85 to secure the yellow ribbon.
"We are very happy with our third-place finish tonight," said Gatlin. "We are trying to win as much money as we can with only a few Grand Prix classes left for us to qualify for the Million Dollar class. We can't thank HITS enough for providing us with such a great atmosphere to jump in tonight."
Keri Potter and Rockford I followed Gatlin and stopped the clock in 70.05 to take fourth place. Rounding out the top five was New Jersey's Michelle Spadone riding Redfield Farm's Coco. They jumped clean in 71.66 to collect $1,800 in prize money.
Show jumping at HITS Thermal continues all weekend and features two more qualifiers for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, including the $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, on Saturday night in the indoor arena, and Sunday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
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, 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.
$30,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE RIDER OWNER PRIZE MONEY FAULTS TIME
1 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught $9,000 0 66.48
2 Chalan Saer Coulter Copernicus Stables $6,600 0 68.17
3 Camaron Hills Quick Dollar Joie Gatlin Camaron Hills Farm $3,900 0 69.85
4 Rockford I Keri Potter Keri Potter $2,400 0 70.05
5 Coco Michelle Spadone Redfield Farms $1,800 0 71.66
6 Mr. Whoopy Duncan McFarlane Simone Coxe $1,500 0 72.12
7 Cracky Z Lauren Hester Hester Equestrian $1,200 0 77.94
8 McLord's First John Lane Clark Lane Clarke $900 1 80.51
9 Loving Dancer Tani Zeidler Zeidler Equestrian $900 2 84.26
10 Laricello Duncan McFarlane Alison Heafey $600 4 66.97
11 Tosca Hannah Selleck Descano Farm $600 4 67.34
12 Quinlan Marshall Whyte Marshall Whyte $600 4 71.27
Helen McNaught on course in the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.© Flying Horse Photography.
Helen McNaught in the winners' circle after the $30,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © Flying Horse Photography.