Saugerties, NY - California's John Pearce and Forest View Farm's Chianto brought out their Sunday best en route to a win in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. The event marked the last stop on the road to the Pfizer Million, which takes place next Sunday, September 12.
A pool of 23 starters challenged International Course Designer Aki Ylanne's (Riihimaki, Finland) first-round course which, although technical, saw a whopping 11 clean rounds emerge to a jump-off. "It was a good course," said John Pearce. "It was long and light, and really got the horses' feet wet."
Starting the class was Roberto Teran of Wellington, Florida and King Ridge Stables' Distant Star 3E, who had four jumping faults.
The stakes began to grow as the next talented, six horse-and-rider teams successfully cleared the first round, starting with Duncan McFarlane of San Ramon, California and Simone Coxe's Mr. Whoopy.
At the end of the first round, Tracy Magness of Hughsville, Maryland and Mr. & Mrs. John Bartko's Tarco Van Ter Moude, the winners' of Wednesday's $15,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome Prix and Friday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health; Manuel Torres of Ashburn, Virginia and TG Show Stable's Chambacunero; Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas and MTM Farm's MTM Timon; Karen Cudmore of Omaha, Nebraska and Blair Cudmore's Southern Pride; Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, Ontario, Canada, and Juniper Farm's George; Pearce on his second mount, Forest View Farm's Son of a Gun; Jenn Serek of Calgary, Texas and Shin Shin Group's Eleonora; Cudmore on her second mount, Blair Cudmore's Ceonto; and Fenney on her second mount, MTM Farm's MTM Centano, made for an all-star, coast-to-coast jump-off.
Starting the jump-off was McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy, who quickly set the Great American Time to Beat at 56.052 seconds in a double-clear effort.
Hot on their heels were the winning team of Pearce and Chianto, who shaved nearly three seconds off the time to beat with a clear round in 53.553 seconds. Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude looked for their third win in a row this week, however, suffered four jumping faults in 56.586 seconds. Torres and Chambacunero returned next and ended with eight faults in 58.235 seconds.
Fenney showed next aboard MTM Timon, with favorable odds having two mounts in the jump-off. Fenney had four faults in 56.623 seconds as it was becoming clear, that Ylanne's jump-off course was putting the riders to the test. Cudmore also featured two mounts in the jump-off. She returned first aboard Southern Pride and ended with eight faults in 61.368 seconds. Henselwood and George were next to take the reins and finished the jump-off with four faults in 60.995 seconds.
It wasn't until Pearce returned on his second mount, Son of a Gun, that another clear round emerged in 57.181 seconds, which ultimately finished third. "I wanted to go fast on my first horse to put the pressure on," explained Pearce. "I thought on my second horse that I was actually going to catch my own time, but I'm happy with the way they both performed, the footing in this ring has been great."
With three rounds remaining, Serek and Eleonora were next to show, and scored eight faults in 64.334 seconds. Cudmore returned on her second mount, Ceonto, and finished with four faults in 57.799 seconds.
Last but not least, the successfull team of Fenney and MTM Centano took the course at a lightening pace. They were the closest to catching the time to beat set by Pearce in the beginning of the jump-off; however, a fraction of a second off (53.796) and four jumping faults ultimately placed the team fourth.
Pearce, a regular competitor at HITS Thermal in Thermal, California, took second place in Friday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard Elizabeth Oliver's Lionel. "It's been a good week here so far," he added. "I think everyone is looking forward to next Sunday for the big class."
The road to the Pfizer Million is now on its' final stretch as HITS-on-the-Hudson VIII begins this Wednesday, September 8 and will culminate with the biggest show-jumping finale of the year on September 12. The week will feature two premier FEI events: The $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier/Pfizer Million Wild Card Grand Prix and the $30,000 HITS Welcome Classic. The final week of competition promises to be filled with exciting special events that you won't want to miss such as the HITS-on-the-Hudson Equestrian Art Auction on Friday night!
In order to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, a rider must compete in eight or more HITS Grand Prix classes. The top 40 riders, based on money won by horse/rider combination, will be eligible to ride for the Pfizer Million. For more detailed information on the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, including ticket prices that include the special concert by music legend John Fogerty, please visit our website at 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 will take the industry to new heights when it hosts the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties on September 12.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
$50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Chianto Forest View Farm John Pearce $15,000 0 0 53.553
2 Mr. Whoopy Simone Coxe Duncan McFarlane $11,000 0 0 56.052
3 Son of a Gun Forest View Farm John Pearce $6,500 0 0 57.181
4 MTM Centano MTM Farm Tracy Fenney $4,000 4 4 53.796
5 Tarco Van Ter Moude Mr. & Mrs. John Bartko Tracy Magness $3,000 4 4 56.586
6 MTM Timon MTM Farm Tracy Fenney $2,500 4 4 56.623
7 Ceonto Blair Cudmore Karen Cudmore $2,000 0 4 57.799
8 George Juniper Farms Jill Henselwood $1,500 0 4 60.955
9 Chambacunero TG Show Stables Manuel Torres $1,500 0 8 58.235
10 Southern Pride Blair Cudmore Karen Cudmore $1,000 0 8 61.368
11 Eleonora Shin Shin Group Jenn Serek $1,000 0 8 64.334
12 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught $1,000 3
Photos: John Pearce and Chianto in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © ESI Photography.
HITS Account Executive Corporate Sponsorship Lisa Engel presented the awards to John Pearce and Chianto. © ESI Photography.