Saugerties, NY - Mother Nature got the memo for the opening day of the 2010 Marshall & Sterling League National Finals as riders were greeted with a picture-perfect afternoon at HITS-on-the-Hudson, in Saugerties, New York.
Taking top honors in today's competition was accomplished hunter rider and Marshall &Sterling League National Finals veteran Jenny Fischer who guided Ronny Lipitz-Mehrberg's Espero to the Championship in the HITS 2'6" Hunter Division.
"Ronny [Lipitz-Mehrberg] shows Espero in the Adult Amateurs," said Fischer, after the class. "We bought him from Ralph Caristo a few years ago and she has had great success on him and was Reserve Circuit Champion at HITS Saugerties earlier this year in the Modified Adult Hunters."
Fischer (Montgomery, New York) guided Espero to a second-place finish in the second over fences class and won the under saddle en route to taking home the tri-color ribbon. Seasoned HITS veteran Marty DeLeyer (Smithtown, New York) grabbed the reserve champion honors riding Silver Oak Stables' Djorko. The horse-and-rider team won the second over fences class, took third in the first class and placed eighth in the hack fueling them to the reserve title.
"It's just a nice horse," said DeLeyer. "When he comes out to a big venue like this, he reacts well."
DeLeyer, who has been coming to HITS shows for more than 25 years, said he showed Djorko in the Baby Green Hunters earlier this summer to prepare for the Finals. "He is a great new horse owned by Silver Oak Stables. This was about his 15th horse show."
The first over fences class in the popular Adequan Hunter Division got underway after Fischer and Espero were crowned champions. Taking the blue ribbon was professional rider Katie Milton (Locust Valley, New York) riding Valerie Primavera's If You Say So.
Primavera and her horse were regular competitors at HITS Saugerties this year and were Reserve Circuit champions in the Amateur-Owner Hunter 36 and Over. With Milton in the tack, the pair won the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby Wild Card at HITS-on-the-Hudson VII and will show in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby Finals this Saturday at HITS-on-the-Hudson.
Milton and If you Say So were sixth in the under saddle. The under saddle class was won by Jenny Fischer riding Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Caristo's Spring Fling. The pair was second over fences and currently has the inside track at capturing the Championship, but Milton and If You Say So are right behind them!
"Spring Fling is a very nice horse," said Fischer "He was Circuit Champion this year in the Adequan Hunter. I love riding that horse because he has the best drive and a great rhythm. I am going to show him next year in the First Year Green Hunter Division and I think he will make a great Junior Hunter soon."
Competition at the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals continues all week at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Tomorrow, the champion of the Adequan Hunter Division will be crowned and the jumper action gets cranked up when the $7,500 Adult Jumper Classic, $7,500 Children's Jumper Classic and the $1,500 Pony Jumper Classic get the party started!
On Friday night after an exciting day in the show ring, the Year-End Awards party is sure to rock the house as the Marshall & and Sterling League celebrates its 20th year. All qualifiers and their guests are invited to this special party which will feature live music, great food and a special celebration honoring all year-end award winners.
Membership for the 2011 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.
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 20th 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, which will be held this year from September 15-19 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 Mary Moeller at 800-836-3046, extension 224.
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 on September 12, in Saugerties, New York.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
Photo: Jenny Fischer is congratulated by HITS' Kristen Vale and Mary Moeller of Marshall & Sterling Insurance after winning the championship in the HITS 2'6" Hunter ©ESI Photography