Ocala, FL - March 7, 2011 - Hunter riders continued to bring their Sunday best at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit as 50 entries filled yesterday's $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. Mary Lisa Leffler and Zivago, owned by Wilder Mountain Farm, LLC, captured the win in the two-round event which featured a diverse line-up of Juniors, Amateurs and Professionals, on a course designed by Ocala's Doug Russell.
"It was a really nice event," said Leffler, of Brookville, Maryland, who operates Rolling Acres Farm with her sister Patty Foster. "I had fun showing in the class today. I enjoyed going out of the ring twice. I thought that was an interesting element and a challenge for a lot of riders."
Leffler, a long-time fixture at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, joins the hundreds of riders who are eager to qualify for the Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3 Hunter Prix. "When I first heard the news of HITS having a $100,000 Hunter event I thought it was a great idea. Now that they have raised the money up to $500,000 it's gone beyond what anyone had expected."
The Rolling Acres family has been competing at HITS Ocala for more than 10 years, and is a group that consistently wins week after week, year after year. Leffler's nieces Ashley Foster and Kimmy Saul also compete throughout the season in the Jumpers, Ponies and Junior Hunters. The family also competes regularly at HITS Culpeper, where Leffler will have even more opportunities to qualify for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix this spring and summer.
Rounding out the top three were Amateur Ellen Toon and her own Invincible in second place, and Megan Edrick aboard Don Stewart's War Eagle in third place.
Sunday's Devoucoux Hunter Prix not only pulled in a variety of rider ranks but it also pulled in exhibitors from outside Ocala, attracting a group from New York's Heritage Farm to make their very first visit to Ocala just to compete in the class. Like many, trainer Patricia Griffith has her eye on the Diamond Mills Hunter Final Prix and came this weekend with the hope of qualifying for the class. It turned out to be a worthwhile trip, as Griffith finished fourth in the class aboard Lexi Maonis' Platinum.
"We came to get a jump-start on qualifying," said Griffith, who is a regular at the HITS Saugerties Show Series which takes place just a short trip from the barn's Katonah, New York location. "I'm looking forward to spending the summer in Saugerties and qualifying for the [Diamond Mills] $500,000 [Hunter Prix] Final. We're also very excited about the Junior Hunter Finals returning to Saugerties this season. Saugerties is our home away from home. It's a short one-hour drive and we are glad to have such a great facility so close to our home."
With the win, Leffler now has three of the five Devoucoux classes needed to become eligible for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final. She also made the jump from second-place in the preliminary Diamond Mills Rider Rankings to first place, as she now has over 220 points aboard her leading mount Zivago.
This week at the Ocala Winter Finals, the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix will make its final appearance under the lights in the Main Hunter Arena. The event will be the last chance for riders in Ocala to earn points to qualify this season for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix, as the road to the Diamond Mills Final will continue on with the opening week of HITS Culpeper in April.
Devoucoux, makers of fine French saddles, is proud to be the title sponsor of each and every qualifying Hunter Prix leading up to this year's phenomenal Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final. The Devoucoux Hunter Prix will be a featured event at all HITS horse shows this season as riders from around the country set out to qualify for the historic Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, which will take place September 10-11 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
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!
$10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY
1 Zivago Wilder Mountain Farm, LLC Mary Lisa Leffler $3,000
2 Invincible Ellen Toon Ellen Toon $2,000
3 War Eagle Don Stewart Megan Edrick $1,400
4 Platinum Lexi Maounis Patricia Griffith $1,000
5 Exposure Alexandra Zell Tracy Fenney $800
6 Wagner Don Stewart/Hasbrouck Donovan Hasbrouck Donovan $700
7 The Artful Dodger Kaela Paternoster Kaela Paternoster $600
8 Zendor Z Heritage Farm, Inc. Patricia Griffith $500
Photo Credits: Mary Lisa Leffler and Zivago on course in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. © ESI Photography.
Course Designer Doug Russell presented the blue ribbon and cooler, courtesy of Judy's Tack Shop, to Mary Lisa Leffler and Zivago in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. © ESI Photography.