ELLENVILLE, NY (August 3, 2001)-Marilyn Little has won three of the five $15,000 Open Jumper Prix classes held at HITS Catskills in Ellenville, New York. Little, of Fredenick, Maryland, won the HITS Catskills Week V Mini Prix today aboard Pico de Gallo, out-jumping a field of 36 horses. There were no double-clears, and Little won as the fastest of three four-faulters in a six-horse Jump-Off. "I'm shocked actually," said Little, a 19-year old college student. "Anyone who was in the Jump-Off was in good company. You had three Olympians and two other major international riders. I was definitely the only amateur." Little owns Pico de Gallo with Raylyn Farm and took home $4,500 for her win. There will be one more Friday Mini Prix on August 31 during the final week of the summer series at HITS Catskills.
Danny Foster of Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, designed today's course. For Round One Foster built 13 jumps that included a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination at Fence No. 5, an oxer over water at No. 10, and a vertical-oxer double at No. 11. Time Allowed was set at 95 seconds. One rider went off course, one rider was eliminated for refusals, and two riders elected to voluntarily withdraw. Six horses jumped clean and qualified for the Jump-Off.
"For sure this is the biggest track that we've jumped," said Little, who has competed in the first five weeks of the six-week series at HITS Catskills. "The water line was particularly difficult. The plank to the water and then the double after that came up very, very quickly. That was a huge oxer coming out. It was a scope test for a lot of horses and hard for the young ones. It was the first time we've jumped an oxer over the water here."
For the Jump-Off, Foster required the riders to start at the triple bar at Fence No. 1, turn right to a new jump, No. 14, the Agway oxer, rollback to another new jump, No. 15, a vertical that was No. 8 in Round One and now jumped in the opposite direction; then gallop to another new vertical, No. 16, which was Round One's No. 9 jumped in reverse direction, a right turn into another gallop to the oxer at No. 4, then a left turn to a new double, 5BC, followed by a new line to the water-the oxer at No. 6 to the final oxer over the water at No. 10. Time Allowed was set at 62 seconds.
Molly Ashe, 21, of Wellington, Florida, aboard Jane F. Clark's Concerto was first to go in the Jump-Off round and accumulated eight faults in 55.303, finishing fifth. Four-time U.S. Olympic Team Member and two-time Silver Medallist Anne Kursinski, 42, of Frenchtown, New Jersey, aboard Escapade owned by The Escapade Group went next and also lowered two fences for eight faults, but her faster time of 54.951 placed her fourth. McLain Ward, 26, of Brewster, New York, on Rio, a horse he owns with Harry Gill, was next to try the course, but he was also had two rails down for eight faults in 56.279, which put him in sixth place.
U.S. Sydney Olympic Team Member Lauren Hough, 24, of Ocala, Florida, on her Olympic mount Clasiko was next in the Jump-Off order and had the second element of the double down for four faults in 54.316, taking the lead from Kursinski. Marilyn Little was next and dashed around the course on Pico de Gallo, an eight-year-old Brazilian gelding she rode to the win in this class Week II. Little had the same rail down as Hough, but her time of 52.324 put her in the lead, which she held onto for the win. Last on course was seven-time Canadian Olympic Team Member Ian Millar, 54, on Aftershock who carefully jumped the course in 60.248, but had the unfortunate last rail down, which put him in third place. Millar Brooke Ltd owns Aftershock with The Point.
Little said she had planned on a fast Jump-off, but after the second jump Pico de Gallo started to scramble for his balance and she lost time holding him up on the way to the liverpool. She made up time and was clear to the double, then was too fast and had B down. "The way I jumped in I really didn't have any option. I had to ride forward because I was already going very quickly, so when I jumped in and it was so tight, it wasn't possible for him to jump it. I knew I was having it down as I landed from A." Little picked up her pace even more after the rail. "I knew I had Ian Millar coming behind me and he's no one you want after you. It was totally open for him. All he had to do was lope around. I guess it was my lucky day because he had the water down. It was unusual."
Little also rode Lassango, the eight-year-old stallion who won this class Week III, and Landman, and eight-year-old gelding, but each had a rail in Round One and did not qualify for the Jump-Off. Little has been getting experience for her young horses who have been competing in a variety of classes at the HITS series, but said today, "I was riding for my life. Some of those oxers looked really big. I felt like I was at the Olympics."
"I thought it was a hard course," said Course Designer Foster. "People just had one down here and there, which was exactly what I was hoping for on a Friday, yet I wanted to give everybody a wake-up call to the fact that it's a major class on Sunday and remind people of the style of jumping that comes with me. What I tried to do was lead them in, get the horses going a little bit-not saying anything was a 'gimme'-but not be so difficult, and yet have enough size early to get everybody on their toes. Then I started to increase the intensity level. By the time we got to the last line that included the water in the middle, certainly that was the technically toughest part of the course. It was the right time to ask those kinds of questions. It's also my job to develop the younger horses and the younger riders that are in these classes, show them some looks that they're going to get when they get to the top of the sport-in a more modified, but hard enough way. Even if they come to fault, they're better for it."
MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Hilton, HITS Media & Public Relations, 319 Main Street, Saugerties, New York 12477-1330. Tel: 845-246-8833, Fax: 845-246-6371, E-Mail: email@example.com. Web: www.HitsShows.com
$15,000 Open Jumper Welcome Stake, August 3, 2001 HITS Catskills V, Ellenville, New York
Course Designer: Danny Foster
Pl#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults & Time
1/Pico de Gallo/Marilyn Little/Raylyn Farm/$4,500/0/4-52.324
2/Clasiko/Lauren Hough/The Clasiko Group/$3,300/0/4-54.316
3/Aftershock/Ian Millar/The Point & Millar Brooke Ltd/$2,250/0/4-60.248
4/Escapade/Anne Kursinski/The Escapade Group/$1,500/0/8/-54.951
5/Concerto/Molly Ashe/Jane F. Clark/$1,200/0/8-55.303
6/Rio/McLain Ward/McLain Ward & Harry Gill/$900/0/8-56.279
7/Quidam M/Peter Leone/BCQ Enterprises/$750/4/NA
8/Dumbo de Chapelle/Michael Dorman/Flora Ribeira/$600/4/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 36
Class Prize Money: $15,000