Thermal, CA - The top High-Performance riders at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit got in their final warm-up for Sunday’s mega $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, on Friday at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.
At the end of Friday's feature class, it was Canadian Olympian John Pearce and Forest View Farm's Son of a Gun that were running on all cylinders when they posted the fastest double-clear effort on International Course Designer Olaf Petersen, Sr.’s track en route to winning $7,500 in prize money.
"It was a great course that was difficult and fun," said Pearce. "It was a great turnout and the crowd brought tons of electricity to the arena. The class was certainly a great tune-up for me and I hope the horses are as fresh for me on Sunday as they were today."
Pearce beat out the 50 other starters to challenge Petersen's first-round track and the six that advanced to the jump-off to win the class. Pearce is no stranger to the winners' circle at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit. In fact, the accomplished Grand Prix rider was named the Royal Champion Leading World Cup Rider for his accomplishments in the four FEI World Cup Qualifiers that were held during the circuit.
Pearce is now shifting his attention to Sunday's $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. The season finale represents the largest purse ever offered on the West Coast and is the final qualifier of the HITS Thermal season for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. With a first-place payout of $90,000, this Grand Prix is on everyone’s radar as a win or a top placing in the class will catapult an eligible rider to the top of the Pfizer Million Rider Rankings.
The Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix takes place on September 12 in Saugerties, New York. Currently, several riders from HITS Thermal are near the top in the preliminary Pfizer Million Standings , including Canadian Olympian John Anderson and World Cup Veteran Keri Potter.
Getting things started in the jump-off during Friday's feature class was Jenn Serek and the Shin Shin Group's Eleonora. The horse-and-rider team had just one rail down and finished the class in fifth place. Second to show in the jump-off was youngster Saer Coulter and Copernicus Stables' Chalan. The duo also had a single rail down in the jump-off track and ended the class in fourth place.
Next to challenge the jump-off track was Pearce and Forest View Farm's Chianto. The talented duo entered the class second in the preliminary standings for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix with more than $32,000 in prize money. However, on Friday Pearce chose not to jump-off with Chianto in hopes to keep him fresh for Sunday's big-ticket event.
"With $90,000 on the line and a sure ticket to the $1 Million Grand Prix up for grabs, I decided to leave a little gas in the tank for Sunday. We'll see if it pays off," said Pearce.
"John had two incredible horses in the class," said Petersen. "My prediction is that Sunday's winner will be the same winner as today."
Fellow Canadian Chris Pratt went fourth in the jump-off riding The Epic Group's Union. The pair left all the rails standing crossing the timers in 40.406 to establish the Great American Time to Beat. When the class was complete, they would grab the red ribbon.
Pearce entered the Grand Prix Ring next riding Forest View Farm's Son of a Gun. The decorated horse-and-rider team went around the course fast and clean setting the new pace at 38.595 to win the blue and collect $7,500 in prize money.
Southern California's Keri Potter sat in the enviable last-to-ride spot aboard Rockford I. The pair already had one Grand Prix triumph in the bag during the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit, but couldn't make it a second triumph when an unlucky rail came down midway through the route resulting in a third-place effort.
Super Siebel! Taylor Siebel wins the $3,500 Junior/Amateur Owner N.A.Y.R.C. Qualifying Class
The lights of the Grand Prix Ring were shinning bright for the future of the sport on Friday night when the $3,500 Junior/Amateur Owner N.A.Y.R.C. Qualifying Class took the stage at the HITS Desert Horse Park.
When the class was complete Taylor Siebel and Alicia Jonsson Foster's Don Francisco (left) edged out the 30 horse-and-rider teams who took aim at Petersen's challenging track that tested some of the top up-and-coming show jumpers.
Siebel, who trains at Waldenbrook with John French, brought two of the four horses back that would qualify for the jump-off. The Stanford student piloted Mountain Home Stables' Chawi De Laubry to the yellow ribbon and was also sixth in the irons aboard Mountain Home Stables' Thunder-Ball.
"In the big classes, Taylor rises to the occasion," said French. "She is a confident rider who knows how to win. If she has to go fast, she is going to give it her all."
The 18-year-old rode on the B Team for the Young Riders in 2009 and, according to French, Siebel is focused on making the A Team this time around. "When she puts her mind to something, she can do it," added French.
Show jumping at the HITS Desert Circuit continues all weekend and will feature the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Classic tonight in the indoor arena and on Sunday the gigantic $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. This celebrated day will also feature the presentation of the Antarès Grand Circuit Champion Awards during the ever-popular Parade of Champions, which will take place in the Grand Prix ring before world renowned High Performance riders take aim at the course designed by International Course Designer Olaf Petersen.
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, 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.
$25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE RIDER OWNER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Son of a Gun John Pearce Forest View Farm $7,500 0 0 38.595
2 Union Chris Pratt The Epic Group $5,500 0 0 40.406
3 Rockford I Keri Potter Keri Potter $3,250 0 4 40.418
4 Chalan Saer Coulter Copernicus Stables $2,000 0 4 40.655
5 Eleonora Jenn Serek Shin Shin Group $1,500 0 4 41.443
6 Chianto John Pearce Gerald Moore/Forest View Farm Inc. $1,250 0 VW
7 Condor Joelle Froese Joelle Froese $750 4
8 Peterbilt Guy Thomas Peterbilt LLC $750 4
9 Charmeur A CH Paris Sellon Paris Sellon $750 4
10 Nemo 119 Lucy Davis Old Oak Farm $500 4
11 Coco Michelle Spadone Redfield Farm $500 4
12 Ulano Karen Cudmore Blair Cudmore $500 4
PHOTO CREDITS: John Pearce and Son of a Gun in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at HITS Thermal. © Flying Horse Photography
John Pearce is congratulated by Bobby Drennan after winning the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at HITS Thermal. © Flying Horse Photography
Hunter Seibel on course in the $3,500 Junior/Amateur Owner N.A.Y.R.C. Qualifying Class © Flying Horse Photography