Ocala, FL - February 18, 2011 - Yesterday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, was the largest Grand Prix starting field ever at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. One of today’s brightest stars in show jumping, Kent Farrington riding Up Chiqui, owned by Alex Boone, William Dobbs and Farrington, beat out 48 starters to take the top prize in the class.
Thursday’s course was designed by Jack Robson of Coronado, California and saw only five teams return for the jump-off. “It was an intelligent course,” said Farrington. “Since the class was so big, it really sorted us out and we didn’t have too many in the jump-off. The bending line to the triple combination posed somewhat of a challenge since it was going away from the gate.”
In the jump-off, Farrington overcame the Great American Time to Beat, held by second-place finishers Andres Rodriguez and Larkanaro, owned by Rodriguez and Andreas Olivares, by less than a second. “He’s a speed specialist,” said Farrington, of his horse. “Going fast in the jump-off is one of our strongest points and today it really mattered with everyone having such fast times.”
Farrington, 30, of Chicago, Illinois, and Up Chiqui have built one of the most promising reputations within the sport over the last decade. The team has represented the United States in the Nations Cup, and earned the right to compete at the World Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009. Alongside an endless resume of big wins and accomplishments, the chestnut gelding was named USEF Show Jumping Horse of the Year in 2007 with over $300,000 in winnings. Farrington returned to HITS Ocala this week for the first time since 2010, where he and Up Chiqui won the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at last year’s Ocala Winter Classic. They couldn’t have picked a better week to show, as the record number of entries was matched with the most beautiful weather, nearing 80 degrees.
Like so many competitors in Thursday’s event, the winners traveled to HITS Ocala this week with one goal in mind: To qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. “It’s well worth the trip,” said Farrington, who competed in the 2010 Pfizer Million, and finished third and 10th in Thursday's class. He plans to secure his spot in this year’s class by returning to HITS Ocala several more times this season. “The payout is worth it. Last year, the Pfizer Million was such a great event to be a part of, and it’s a big goal of mine to return.” Farrington and Iron Horse Farm’s Top Gun placed 14th in the 2010 Pfizer Million.
Also returning to HITS Ocala for the first time in 27 years was 1996 Olympic Silver Medalist Peter Leone. “Tom [Struzzieri], his team, and his management group all do a great job,” said Leone. “I’m trying to transition my clientele to becoming HITS show clientele. I really enjoy the HITS shows and what they have to offer. Last year, I was able to do the first week of Culpeper in April, and five or six other events at HITS Saugerties, including the Pfizer Million.”
Leone plans on returning to Ocala in order to qualify for this year’s Pfizer Million. “Tom has a good instinct for what professional horsemen and their families are looking for,” he said. “I’m coming back for this Sunday’s class. While this trip was a solo effort for me, I hope to bring my clients with me in a couple of weeks when I return. I know that with the introduction of the Pfizer Million, my personal participation level with HITS has increased and as a result, my clients’ participation level with HITS also increased. I’m sure that the same can be said across the industry. This class is nothing but good for our industry.”
HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri shared the same sentiment. “The introduction of the Pfizer Million was intended to raise the standards of show jumping here in the United States and to reward our customers with an opportunity that’s the only one of its kind in the world,” he said. “I think we accomplished that goal in 2010 and the industry has truly embraced this event more than ever. After the success of last year, our longtime customers, as well as new and international riders, are all making plans to qualify for this historic event.”
Rounding out the top in the class were Tracy Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude, owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko, in fourth place, followed by David Tromp and Renoir du Buisson, owned by Beyaert Farm Inc., in fifth place.
Sunday’s beautiful forecast may once again set the stage for the next largest Grand Prix ever at HITS Ocala, as the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, will highlight the week of show jumping.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
Alex Granato and his own Gangsta captured the victory in Wednesday’s $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. The class featured 34 competitors, with Aaron Vale and North Face Farm’s Casino Van de Helle placing second and Chris Delia aboard Mandel Stables’ Arwen, placing third.
About SmartPak Equine
Founded in 1999, SmartPak Equine is the country’s largest online and catalog retailer serving the needs of the active and engaged horse owner. The patented SmartPak™ supplement feeding system has simplified the process of feeding horse supplements and medications, making it easier for thousands of riders to keep their horses healthier by ensuring their supplements are being fed correctly. SmartPak’s diverse and expansive product offering includes its own line of supplements, tack, and horse blankets as well as an extensive selection of leading brands of equine health, apparel, tack, and equipment. SmartPak is a six-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree and is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list. SmartPak is backed by Waltham, MA-based North Bridge Growth Equity.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
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. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final, September 10 -11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Up Chiqui Alex Boone, William Dobbs, Kent Farrington Kent Farrington $7,500 0 0 29.057
2 Larkanaro Andres Rodriguez and Andreas Olivares Andres Rodriguez $5,500 0 0 30.069
3 Top Gun Iron Horse Farm Kent Farrington $3,250 0 0 30.340
4 Tarco Van Ter Moude Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko Tracy Magness $2,000 0 0 30.600
5 Renoir du Buisson Beyaert Farm Inc. David Tromp $1,500 0 4 42.744
6 Remonta Habano Silvio Mazzoni Silvio Mazzoni $1,250 1
7 Chambacunero Manuel Torres Manuel Torres $1,000 4
8 Blue Danube The Goddard Harrison Group Helen Goddard $750 4
9 Aragon Rouet Andre Thieme Andre Thieme $750 4
10 Valhalla Haity McNerney Kent Farrington $500 4
11 Highlander Joan Kalman Aaron Vale $500 4
12 Uvalier Andre Thieme Andre Thieme $500 4
Photos: Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui on course in Thursday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © ESI Photography.
HITS' Lucie McKinney and Lisa Engel presented the awards and a cooler courtesy of Shires Equestrian Products to Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui for their win in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Farrington also received a bottle of chardonnay courtesy of Sonoma-Cutrer™ Wines. © ESI Photography.
Alex Granato and Gangsta on course in Wednesday's $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. © ESI Photography.