Thermal, CA - February 18, 2011 - An outstanding start to the 2011 HITS Desert Circuit, combined with some absolutely fabulous weather in the Southern California desert, has made Thermal the talk of the winter circuits. In fact, demand for stalls at Thermal for the second half are so high, that yesterday HITS shipped an additional 1,000 tent stalls from its property in Ocala, Florida to the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California to accommodate the increased volume for the show.
“We are seeing a shift in California with this year’s Circuit,” said Tom Struzzieri, HITS President and CEO. “Interest for the horse show is about as high as it’s been since moving to the new facility, which speaks to both the resurgence of the West Coast horse show economy and the maturing of the show grounds. In fact, we have stopped taking entries for Desert Circuit V and that’s the first time that week has sold out since the Indio days.”
Struzzieri credits the increased demand to the continued focus on the core of HITS’ philosophy. “The product we offer, not just in Thermal but at all of our shows, is in tune with the needs of the customers and we are seeing more and more people taking advantage of that. Our core show schedule offers athletes, at every stage of a career, competition opportunities specific to their needs. In its second year we are seeing the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix really driving the High-Performance participation, while the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix has provided new energy and interest in the hunters.”
Earlier this week HITS conducted a call with the 2011 Thermal Trainer Committee to review the first half of the Circuit and share plans for the second half. Participating on the call were trainers Tracy Bear, Archie Cox, Joie Gatlin, and Susie Hutchison, along with Struzzieri and HITS Thermal Technical Coordinator Brian Morris.
After the call, Hutchison shared some of her impressions of the first half of the Circuit. “Thermal is better than ever. There are super new improvements and everyone should come out and play! The changes to Jumper 1 are fabulous. The new [White & Company Private Client Group] Hunter Hospitality Tent is a great upgrade, and adds nicely to the hunter side of the facility. In general, there are so many nice improvements that people really need to come see for themselves. I’m sure they will be impressed.”
Competition resumes in Thermal on Tuesday, February 22 with Desert Circuit IV, a week that features three more Grand Prix qualifiers for the Pfizer Million, including a FEI World Cup Qualifier, and another $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix Qualifier for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. The $50,000 Purina Mills CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, will be the featured event on Saturday night followed by the Purina Mills After-Prix Party, while the ever-popular Purina Mills Fiesta Day will highlight festivities on Sunday, February 27.
Desert Circuit V follows, March 1-6. and will be highlighted by World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) hunter competition, three more Pfizer Million Qualifiers, including the fourth and final FEI World Cup Qualifier and the second of three European Youngster Cup (EY-Cup) Qualifiers, and the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.
Desert Circuit VI completes the series March 8-13 with several big-money finales, including the $25,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, the $10,000 Pilatus Aircraft Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Medium Classic, the final EY-Cup Qualifier in the $25,000 California Horsetrader Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic, the $15,000 Copernicus Stables/PCHA Jimmy Williams Classic and the $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix, presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach.
The Course Designer roster for the second half includes three top international professionals. Desert Circuit IV will feature courses set by Marina Azevedo of Sao Paulo, Brazil, while Desert Circuit V and VI will feature courses set by Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Paehl Germany and Olaf Petersen, Sr. of Muenchen, Germany, respectively.
For more information on the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California, please visit 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 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: Members from the HITS Ocala grounds crew loading temporary stalls on a flatbed to ship to Thermal, California. © HITS Staff.