Saugerties, NY - Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Pamina L, owned by Hidden Creek Farm, won the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, in the first Pfizer Million Grand Prix qualifier at HITS Saugerties on Friday which doubled as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"It was a very nice opening course," said Engle, of West Palm Beach, Florida. "It was big enough, with some tight combinations." Engle and Hidden Creek's Pamina L were one of 32 horse-and-rider teams to take the field on a course designed by International Course Designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. which saw an outstanding 10 riders return for the jump-off.
Petersen's 15-effort, first-round course produced seven clear rounds within the first 11 riders to take to the field. Among the early group advancing to the jump-off were Engle on Gladwinds Farm, Inc.'s Indigo, Charlie Jayne of Elgin, Illinois on Alex Jayne's Urbanus, Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Bynum Farms' Vince, Jonathan McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut on Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables' Baloubet Junior Z, Kate Gerhart of Sellersville, Pennsylvania on Cathy Gerhart's Timo, Jeffery Welles of Brewster, New York on Abigail Wexner's Tango and Darragh Kerins of Wellington, Florida on Kevin Babington's Lisona.
After the initial swarm of clear rounds, the second half of the order produced the final four clear rounds from Megan Edrick of Agoura, California riding Procedures, Inc.'s Cadence, David Beisel of Goshen, Ohio riding Harlow Investment Enterprises' Moet Walk, Kate Levy of Wellington, Florida riding her own Vent Du Nord, and finally, Engle on her second mount, Hidden Creek's Pamina L.
Kerins opted not to return for the jump-off, making it an even 10 for Petersen's second-round course, which included eight efforts with one combination and a time allowed of 74.1 seconds.
The beautiful weather provided an exciting day at the Strongid® C 2X Stadium, as High-Performance riders looked to capture their first win of the season. Starting the jump-off was Jayne and Urbanus. The duo set the pace with four faults at 49.221 seconds.
Securing the first double-clear effort was Engle on Indigo. The team set the Great American Time to Beat at 50.890 seconds, which didn't last long as Torano and Vince went clean in 50.853 seconds on the very next round.
McCrea and Baloubet Junior Z were next to show. This duo really put the heat on, racing through the course in 49.781 seconds but two rails fell and they had to settle for a 10th-place finish. Gerhart was next and could have taken the lead with her 50.726 effort, but a rail down mid-way through the course kept her in ninth place.
Welles and Tango followed Gerhart and produced the next double-clear effort in a speedy 49.699 seconds to capture the lead and set the new pace for the remaining four trips. Edrick and Cadence went clear on the very next round, but their time of 53.490 would settle them into sixth place. Beisel and Moet Walk were the next pair to go clear in 50.815 which helped them to finish third on the day.
With just two riders left, Levy and her mount Vent Du Nord raced through the course an appeared to be on track to take the lead, but an unlucky rail down mid-way through gave them four faults and a seventh-place finish.
Engle and Hidden Creek's Parmina L were last to show, looking to beat the impressive time set by Welles four rounds earlier. Engle secured the decisive win with a fault-free ride in a blazing 47.213 seconds as the crowd cheered and the class came to an exciting finish.
"He's [Hidden Creek's Pamina L] a very fast horse," said Engle. "He does much better going faster towards the jumps."
With seven more Grand Prix classes needed to become eligible, Engle plans on qualifying for the historic Pfizer Million.
Engle, like many HITS exhibitors this season is enjoying the new changes made to the show grounds. "The footing is really great and there are some really nice changes that have been made to the site, with new and different classes added, it's really nice to see."
Friday's Grand Prix raised nearly $3,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as exhibitors and spectators pledged donations for each jump cleared by their favorite riders in the class. Grand Prix youngster Taylor McMurty of Barrington Hills, Illinois raised over $800 in pledges from supporters who donated generously in her name. In addition, Engle generously donated $500 from her winnings to the cause.
"Having cancer was a tempering experience," said Karen von Bachella of South Windsor, Connecticut, an equestrian and horse show judge who is a survivor of Hodgkins Lymphoma. "I am lucky to have had the support of my family and friends, of whom several are HITS exhibitors. It's great that HITS is supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society."
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 OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY RD 1 FAULTS JO FAULTS JO TIME
1 Hidden Creek's Pamina L Hidden Creek Farm Margie Engle $7,500 0 0 47.213
2 Tango Abigail Wexner Jeffery Welles $5,500 0 0 49.699
3 Moet Walk Harlow Investment Enterprises, LLC David Beisel $3,250 0 0 50.815
4 Vince Bynum Farms Jimmy Torano $2,000 0 0 50.853
5 Indigo Gladewinds Farm Inc. Margie Engle $1,500 0 0 50.890
6 Cadence Procedures Inc. Megan Edrick $1,250 0 0 53.490
7 Vent Du Nord Kate Levy, LLC Kate Levy $1,000 0 4 49.103
8 Urbanus Alex R. Jayne Charlie Jayne $750 0 4 49.221
9 Timo Cathy Gerhart Kate Gerhart $750 0 4 50.776
10 Baloubet Junior Z Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables Inc. Jonathan McCrea $500 0 8 49.781
11 Lisona Kevin Babington Darragh Kerins $500 0
12 Athena The London Group Charlie Jayne $500 4
Photos: Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Pamina L on course in Friday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson. © ESI Photography.
Margie Engle is congratulated by HITS' Lisa Engel and Tony Hitchcock as well as survivor Zack Swart and family from Saugerties, New York, Karen von Bachella, and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Volunteers Melissa Signor and friends. © ESI Photography.