John Bragg Takes 4th Decoucoux Win on Social Hours

John Bragg and Social Hour win the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix Sunday, February 22, 2015, at HITS Thermal. c) ESI Photography
John Bragg and Social Hour win the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix Sunday, February 22, 2015, at HITS Thermal. c) ESI Photography

Thermal, California: John Bragg claimed his fourth $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix win this year on Sunday at HITS Desert Horse Park on Social Hour, owned by Laura Strasburg.

Bragg won first and third place in Sunday's Devoucoux Hunter Prix, John French, who was the recipient of last week's Charles Owen Leading Hunter Rider Award, took second and fourth.

Bragg earned scores of 89 and 88 on Social Hour, earning a total of 177 to take the blue ribbon. French, on Sochi, owned by Lee Kellogg Sadrian, scored 87 and 89 to total 176. Right behind, Bragg scored 86 and 88 on Pamela Mollenhoff's Lukatoni to total 174. In fourth, French scored 84 and 83 to total 167 on Elizabeth Gabler's Soldier.

The $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix is a qualifier for the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final at the HITS Championship in Saugerties this September 2-6.

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix
Place     Horse     Owner     Rider     Prize     Rd. 1/2  Total
1 Social Hour  Laura Strasburg  John Bragg  $1,500  89/88  177
2 Sochi  Lee Kellogg Sadrian  John French  $1,000  87/89  176
3 Lukatoni  Pamela Moellenhoff     John Bragg  $700  86/88  174
4 Soldier  Elizabeth Gabler  John French  $500     84/83  167
5 Coffeetalk  Gabriella Cinquini  Gabriella Cinquini  $400  81/84  165
6 Welcome  Gemma Geist     Gemma Geist  $325  79.5/81  160.5
7 Faraon  Pavla Nygaard  Tanya Levorchick  $300  79/76     155
8 Academy Award  Mary-Kathryn Dick  Mary-Kathryn Dick  $275  80/74  154

Polly Sweeney and Duet win the Desert Circuit V ,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Sunday, February 22, 2015, at HITS Thermal.(c) ESI Photography
Polly Sweeney and Duet win the Desert Circuit V ,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Sunday, February 22, 2015, at HITS Thermal.(c) ESI Photography

Polly Sweeney Wins Platinum Performance Hunter Prix on Duet
Polly Sweeney took first place in the Desert Circuit V $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix on her own Duet with scores of 88 and 83 to total 171 in Sunday's class.

"It was one tough class. I felt it was a magic moment - it really truly was," she said. "It was a lovely flowing course that just was inviting. You just take a deep breath and enjoy it all as you go along. It felt good that I hit all my distances. When I got my score I almost fell off."

In second place, Leila Templin scored an 82 and 86 on Ellen Brown's Maple Bay. Rounding out third -- and also taking fourth -- was Amy Brubaker who scored an 83 and 84 on Estelle Harris' Gideon Sharonne and an 83.5 and 82 on Rory Ingels' Popular J.

Sweeney, of Pasadena, California, is a regular competitor at HITS Thermal and won two of last year's HITS Thermal Platinum Performance classes. She has her eye on this year's $250,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Final at the HITS Championship. "I'm looking forward to Saugerties, I hope to make it that far," she said.

Sweeney, who took a two decade hiatus from riding to work as a professional violinist and raise her children, returned to her childhood sport about 15 years ago. "The whole riding world changed in that period of time," she said, of her time off. Sweeney now trains under Archibald Cox III, of Brookway Stables. She got back into riding when her daughter, actress Alison Sweeney, developed an interest in the sport.

"She started begging to ride," she said. "That was my cue to get back into it. Here I am. I think it’s easier to come back if you’ve ridden as a child. I’ve been lucky, it’s kept me young."

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix
Place     Horse     Owner  Rider  Prize  Rd. 1/2  Total
1 Duet     Polly Sweeney     Polly Sweeney     $450  88/83  171
2 Maple Bay  Ellen Brown  Leila Templin  $300  82/86  168
3 Gideon Sharonne  Estelle Harris  Amy Brubaker  $200  83/84  167
4 Popular J  Rory Ingels  Amy Brubaker     $150  83.5/82  165.5
5 Beach Drive  Bill Ulmer  Bill Ulmer  $125  81/83  164
6 Castle Hill  Stephanie Ray  Stephanie Ray  $100  86/72.5  158.5
7 Capria  Emily Hutson     Emily Hutson  $100  78/80  158
8 Lausbub  JH Sporthorses  Eliza Foster  $75  79/73  152




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