Thermal, CA - The Canadian Flag is flying high at the HITS Desert Horse Park, in Thermal, California thanks to John Pearce's victory aboard Forest View Farm's Son of a Gun in Saturday night's $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
The Canadian Olympian had the only clear round on International Course Designer Olaf Petersen Jr.'s first-round course as he took down 25 other horse-and-rider pairs to win the blue ribbon.
Pearce's knuckles must have been sore from knocking on the door all circuit as he had several finishes near the top of the previous Grand Prix classes. In Saturday night's feature class, the duo challenged the course in the 23rd spot of the order and made it all the way home clean in 59.70 to eventually win the class.
"Nothing was easy out there," said Pearce. "Every jump was challenging. I am very proud of my horse. We had been so close all circuit and we finally got over the hump in one of the biggest classes of the circuit."
Four other riders made it all the way clear through the tough track but had time faults, including New Jersey's Michelle Spadone aboard Morgan Hill Partner's Melisimo. "Every jump came up so fast," said Spadone, who finished fourth. "There was no place on the course to make up any time except for fence 8A but it was a tricky vertical and you had to be careful."
"It was a beautifully designed course," said Jill Henselwood. "There was no place to take a coffee break out there. Every effort was challenging. Olaf's job was to get riders ready for the World Cup, not to have a jump-off. He did a great job!"
Taking second place in the class was Desert Circuit newcomer, Jose-Alberto Martinez of Guadalajara, Mexico aboard his mount Leonard. The yellow ribbon went to Helen McNaught and Caballo. Spadone and Morgan Hill Partner's Melisimo took fourth place and Karen Cudmore was fifth aboard Blair Cudmore's Ulano to round out the riders with just one time fault.
Show Jumping at HITS Thermal continues tomorrow with one more qualifier for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix when the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health takes the stage.
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.
$50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Heath
PLACING HORSE RIDER OWNER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS
1 Son of a Gun John Pearce Gerald Moore/Forest View Farm Inc $15,000 0
2 Leonard Jose-Alberto Martinez Jose-Alberto Martinez $11,000 1
3 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught $6,500 1
4 Melisimo Michelle Spadone Morgan Hill Partners $4,000 1
5 Ulano Karen Cudmore Blair Cudmore $3,000 1
6 Goldika 559 McLain Ward McLain Ward $2,500 4
7 Camaron Hills Quick Dollar Joie Gatlin Camaron Hills Farm $2,000 4
8 Terrific John Anderson Foxdale Farm $1,500 4
9 Southern Pride Karen Cudmore Blair Cudmore $1,500 4
10 Flexible Rich Fellers Harry & Mollie Chapman $1,000 4
11 Chianto John Pearce Forest View Farms $1,000 4
12 Carino Guy Thomas Willow Tree Farm $1,000 4
Photo Credits: John Pearce in the $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at HITS Thermal. © Flying Horse Photography
HITS' Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock congratulates John Pearce after winning the $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at HITS Thermal. © Flying Horse Photography