Saugerties, NY - September 15, 2011 - As the dust settled from the second annual Pfizer Million Weekend at HITS-on-the-Hudson, another wave of horses and riders arrived at the Saugerties, New York show grounds for the anticipated Marshall & Sterling League National Finals. Qualified riders of all ages – professionals, amateurs and juniors alike – will compete this week at HITS-on-the-Hudson for year-end honors. The Marshall & Sterling League celebrated its 20-year anniversary last year and is thriving as it grooms what some consider the future of the hunter/jumper discipline.
“The [National] Finals are a great stepping stone or finish line,” said Katie Benson of Readington, New Jersey. Benson manages Marshall & Sterling horse shows herself throughout the year and accompanied eight of her students to the National Finals this year. “These classes prepare riders for different equestrian goals and also serve as a special end-point to the year,” she added.
Competition got underway yesterday in the Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix Stadium as many riders maneuvered courses ranging in height from 2’6”-4’ only two days after equestrian stars from around the world were jumping Olympic-level spreads in the same ring. “Bringing our horses and students to this venue is a great teaching tool,” said Benson. “It’s hard to prepare for the size of the ring, but experiencing it makes them both better.”
Katie Milton of Long Island, New York participated in last year’s Marshall & Sterling League National Finals and took the championship in the Adequan Hunter Division and the Grand Hunter Championship aboard Valerie Primavera's If You Say So. This year, she is coaching two of her students as they compete in the National Finals. “It’s nice that this show offers classes to all levels,” she said. “Professionals and kids can come and experience the [National] Finals and it always makes it exciting.”
HITS Working Hunter – Professional
Kicking off the National Finals action was the professional section of the HITS Working Hunter division. Riders were asked to cover two courses and were then judged under saddle. After placing in the top 20 in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final on Sunday, Jenny Fischer of Montgomery, New York rode to champion honors aboard Lisa Lowell’s Moments of Brilliance. “When I started riding him, he was a nervous and tense thoroughbred,” said Fischer of her mount. “He proved that he has come a long way today to be able to walk into the Grand Prix ring and win.”
HITS Working Hunter – Professional
Fischer admits that moving from Pfizer Million Weekend to Marshall & Sterling League National Finals was quite a transition, but she wouldn’t have missed it for anything. “I have always loved this,” she said of the National Finals. “It’s a nice event for everyone involved and the young people in our sport love qualifying and competing in the [National] Finals.” Fischer will end her Marshall & Sterling League National Finals with yesterday ’s win, but will continue to coach the four junior riders who accompanied her to HITS-on-the-Hudson this week.
Christina Kalinski of Saugerties, New York picked up reserve champion in the HITS Working Hunter division in the irons of Lisa Falsaime’s Czech Me Out.
HITS Working Hunter – Non-Professional
Following the professionals in the Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix Stadium were junior and amateur riders in the non-professional section of the HITS Working Hunter division. A field of 20 competed in two over fences classes and an under saddle to reveal Briana Cassidy of Avon, Connecticut as the champion aboard her own Akino.
HITS Working Hunter – Non-Professional
Tied for reserve champion in the division was Jada Puleo of Odessa, Florida aboard her own Artwork and Meg Mikula of Rockaway, New Jersey in the irons of her own Cassio.
Coming This Week
The Marshall & Sterling League National Finals continue today with the Junior/Amateur Low, Adult, Children’s and Pony Jumper Classics and the $1,500 Bit O’ Straw Hunter Classic. The results from today’s Adequan Working Hunter classes will be coupled with tomorrow’s $1,000 Adequan Working Hunter Stake to reveal a division Champion, and the Adult Hunter division will begin with one over fences class and an under saddle class.
Exhibitors will be treated to a host of events throughout the week welcoming them to the 2011 Marshall & Sterling League National Finals. The year-end awards ceremony will take place on Friday at 6pm at the HITS show grounds. A dinner will be served at 6:30 pm and awards begin at 7:15 pm with a Hoedown party to follow.
Saturday will welcome an ice cream social at the HITS ice cream parlor at 1 pm and a pizza party at the HITS café & bar at 6 pm.
“People are so excited to be here – they were lined up at the in-gate this morning well before 8am, ready to get in the ring,” said Joe Norick of Marshall & Sterling Insurance. “We are thrilled to be here and experience the National Finals with riders from all over the country.”
About the Marshall & Sterling League
The Marshall & Sterling League was designed to enhance the level of competition for children and adult riders, with an opportunity to qualify for a prestigious National Finals competition. Now celebrating their 21st year, the Marshall & Sterling League features 14 divisions of competition. Riders who are members of the League had the opportunity to earn points throughout the year by competing in Marshall & Sterling classes in order to qualify for the Marshall & Sterling League Finals, held at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc., founded in 1864, is among the largest privately owned insurance agencies in the United States. For more than a quarter century, Marshall & Sterling has protected precious equine assets with unparalleled service and support, whether the family hunter, a champion racehorse or a commercial farm. An employee-owned company, Marshall & Sterling has been recognized by IIABA as one of the nation's top "Best Practice Agencies." The company maintains a national presence and is licensed in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, contact Margaret Barese at 800-836-3046, extension 288.
Membership for the 2012 Marshall & Sterling League is $40 and applications are available at all member horse shows, as well as online at the Marshall & Sterling League website. For more information on the Marshall & Sterling League, contact Patti Guerriero, League Coordinator, at email@example.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 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: Jenny Fischer on course with Lisa Lowell's Moments of Brilliance at the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals. © ESI Photography; Jenny Fischer and Lisa Lowell's Moments of Brilliance accept champion honors in the HITS Working Hunter - Professional division. © ESI Photography; Briana Cassidy and her own Akino on course in the HITS Working Hunter - Non-Professional division at the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals. © ESI Photography and Briana Cassidy and her own Akino are awarded with a champion ribbon from HITS' Kristen Vale and Asia Manning, and Joe Norick of Marshall & Sterling Insurance in the HITS Working Hunter - Non-Professional division. © ESI Photography.