Ocala, FL - March 10, 2011 - The Ocala Tournament last week saw nonstop show jumping action, with new winners emerging in each event. With just two more weeks of competition left, the excitement is growing, as big classes and special events highlight the remainder of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit.
Each week, the Pfizer Million Eligible Rider Rankings changes, as different winners continue to alter the landscape. Maryland's Tracy Magness and Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko's Tarco Van Ter Moude currently sit in the second-place spot of the preliminary Rankings with the required eight Grand Prix needed to solidify their eligibility. On Sunday, the team added to their prize money earnings with a third-place finish in the $50,000 Ring Power Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
This past weekend, Laura Linback of Mundelin, Illinois also reached her eighth Grand Prix and moved into the third spot of the Rider Rankings aboard Woodrun's Uppsala, after they took second place in Sunday's Grand Prix. Canada's Francois Lamontagne aboard his own Anton captured the win in Sunday's class, which was his eighth Grand Prix appearance. He is now tied for ninth place in the Rankings.
Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Rider Rankings
The Devoucoux Hunter Prix, the qualifying class for the first-ever Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, continues to be one of the most popular events at HITS Ocala. Last Sunday, 50 entries took to the course as Maryland's Mary Lisa Leffler and Wilder Mountain Farm, LLC's Zivago took home the win and the first place check of $3,000. The Devoucoux Hunter Prix is attracting a diverse group of riders with Juniors, Amateurs and Professionals all coming together to compete for the unique chance to qualify for the historic Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final. Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that it's also attracting new riders to HITS Ocala. Heritage Farm's Patricia Griffith, who competes regularly at HITS Saugerties, made her debut at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit in order to join the hunt, and took a home the fourth place ribbon aboard Lexi Maounis' Platinum.
Leffler's big win on Sunday and has propelled her to the very top of the preliminary Diamond Mills Rider Rankings, with an accumulated total of 224 points on her leading mount Zivago and three of the five classes needed to become eligible. HITS Ocala riders currently dominate the top ten of the Rankings, including Professional Cathy Inch, Juniors Callie Morgan Smith, Hasbrouck Donovan, and Samantha Smith, as well as Professionals Tracy Fenney and Kelley Farmer.
On Saturday, March 13, at nearly the same time, HITS will host the final three qualifiers of its 2011 Winter Show Season at all three of its Circuits in Ocala, Florida; Tucson, Arizona; and Thermal, California. Starting on the East Coast, the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix will kick things off on Saturday night under the lights in the Grand Prix arena at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, while 1,700 miles west in Arizona riders will take to the hunt in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. Then at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, the $25,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix will wrap up this Saturday Night Coast-to-Coast Special, before the focus shifts to the HITS Culpeper and Saugerties spring and summer show series.
Tracy Magness has a grip on the number one spot in the Catena Leading Rider Standings with 52 points. Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude captured the Catena Leading Rider title in 2009 and are on a path to do so once again. So far this season, Magness has placed in six of the eight Grand Prix that she's competed in, including a first-place finish aboard Tarco Van Ter Moude in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during the Ocala January Festival. The first and second place finishers in last Sunday's Grand Prix, Francois Lamontagne and Laura Linback, respectively, are currently tied for second place with 24 points each. In third place by just a one point difference is veteran and HITS Ocala icon Tracy Fenney. The Catena Leading Rider Award will be presented during the Parade of Champions on Sunday, March 20.
The weekly Odor-No-More Groom's Award was presented to Joseph Brady of Wiliamson County, Tennessee, who works for The Jaeckle Centre. "He's gained a ton of experience over the past few months and has really developed into a great groom," said Ashley DiBartolomeo of The Jaeckle Centre. "I see him developing into a great professional in the industry," she added.
Purina Mills Weekend
The Purina Mills Weekend makes its triumphant return to HITS Ocala on March 12-13 and all exhibitors are invited! Each winter, it's one of the most popular events, and Purina Mills has a jam-packed weekend in store, including the Purina Mills Exhibitor Party and Horseless Horseshow, presented by Judy's Tack Shop, on Saturday, March 12 from 6-8pm in The Overlook Club. The Purina Mills party will have a cash bar and complimentary food for all exhibitors, but in addition, party attendees will have the chance to "win a ton" of Purina Mills feed! - Just fill out a form to enter at the party, and the winner will be drawn at the end of the festivities.
Then on Sunday, Purina Mills Kids' Day, presented by Local Edge, will kick off at 11am behind the Grand Prix Arena with live music by the Brian Kenyon Band. Judy's Tack Shop will host a mini-horse petting pen, while children's authors Thea Wilcox and Sharon Miner will also be onsite. Wilcox will have the characters in her stories present, and Sharon Miner will have a horseshoe-decorating craft for the kids. There will be a bounce house with a slide, and Carol Fletcher will present her trick miniature horse and poodle. The Ocala Wildlife Sanctuary will also be there with their majestic owls. And, if that's not enough, the Humane Society of Marion County will be offering a dog adoption, prior to the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. HITS' Official Radio Station, Thunder Country WTRS 102.3 also will be on-site, all afternoon, for a live broadcast, so tune in and enjoy!
After the Grand Prix action, sit tight for the VDL Sport Horse Auction on Sunday, March 13, as ten horses from accomplished European bloodlines will be auctioned. The bloodline pedigrees include Indoctro, Nimmerdor, Jus de Pommes, Darco, Quidam de Revel, and Cor de la Bryere, so if you're looking for your next show jumping star, join us on Sunday at the VDL Sport Horse Auction. And remember, "Quality Always Wins" when it comes to VDL.
Can't watch from the stands? This season you can watch every Grand Prix at HITS on Galopando TV at www.galopandotv.com, for a $5.00 membership fee. GalopandoTV webcasts the competition for you to enjoy via a live feed, and after the event is also available in archive for viewing anytime. And, this Saturday night, GalopandoTV will also be filming the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, live, from the Main Hunter Ring.
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 3'3" 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!
Photo Credits: Tracy Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude won the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at the Ocala January Festival. © ESI Photography.
Mary Lisa Leffler and Zivago on course in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. © ESI Photography.
Lisa Engel of HITS presents the 2009 HITS Ocala Catena Leading Rider Award to Maryland's Tracy Magness. Magness currently leads the way in the 2011 Catena Leading Rider Rankings at HITS Ocala. © Lili Weik Photography.
Joseph Brady received the Odor-No-More Grooms Award. HITS Staff.
Gerald Camera won the Sanctuary Reserve Award, presented by Jeffery Ayers, after his second place finish in the Amateur Owner-Hunter 36 & Over class aboard his own Bengale. © ESI Photography.