Thermal, CA - In two weeks time, show jumping action returns to Thermal, California for the 20th Anniversary of the HITS Desert Circuit. As entries continue to flood the corporate office, HITS is looking forward to welcoming international show jumping icon and California native Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum “home” to Thermal for the 2011 show season.
Michaels-Beerbaum is a three-time World Cup Champion and 2010 WEG Team Gold Medalist with a very long resume of show jumping achievements. Her first trip to Thermal was in 2009 when she led a riding clinic for the West Coast Active Riders in Thermal’s beautiful indoor arena. That trip left an impression on the California native and this season will be her first competing at the circuit. She will be traveling to Thermal with her husband Markus Beerbaum and their beautiful daughter Brianne Victoria, who will celebrate her first birthday on February 27 during the circuit.
“I’m very excited to come back to California and see my family, some old friends, and colleagues,” said Michaels-Beerbaum, who hasn’t competed on the West Coast since leaving more than 20 years ago. “Markus and I have a couple of students from California competing in Thermal who asked us to join them. After considering the options, we decided to come for the entire circuit and to bring some of our young horses to help develop them and prepare for the European summer schedule. I love doing something new and different, so I’m looking forward to being based out of Thermal for the winter. It will be a great opportunity for me, my family and our students.”
Michaels-Beerbaum and her husband Markus, another highly acclaimed show-jumping legend, will be helping to train Gaby Salick, Saer Coulter and Lucy Davis, while one of their students from Germany, Alabama native Christie Israel, will also make the trip from Europe with two of her horses to show in Thermal.
“We have a great group of students; Christie, Gaby, Saer, and Lucy are all terrific,” said Michaels-Beerbaum. “In fact, I first met Saer at that clinic back in 2009 and Lucy trained with us in Germany before she won the 2009 European Youngster Cup Final, which was incredible. For her to come to Germany just a few days before the Final and beat all those really great European riders was really quite impressive.”
According to Michaels-Beerbaum, the fact that Thermal will host three European Youngster Cup Qualifiers this season is very exciting. “This is a very big deal. This is the biggest class for Young Riders in Europe and is extremely prestigious. It’s a wonderful opportunity for young American riders to come to Europe to show, and the fact that this Final will be held along with the World Cup Finals is tremendous. To be able to compete at and then watch the World Cup Finals is a huge opportunity! This is a great goal for Christie, and really all young riders.”
Michaels-Beerbaum is already qualified for the World Cup Finals, so the focus for Thermal is to develop and prepare her four young horses. “The one that’s the furthest along is our mare Kismet. She’s been doing the 1.50m classes in Europe but hasn’t stepped up yet to the 1.60m World Cup classes, so we hope to do that with her in Thermal. Lancaster is a gelding who was a very competitive 8-year-old horse that competed in Aachen and has been out of the sport for a while, so we’re looking to bring him back to the that level, again. The other two horses, a mare and a gelding, are 8 years old and both much greener. I don’t expect them to be in the big Grand Prix, so they’ll do more of the Futures Divisions and such to get them ready for the summer in Europe."
Despite not having her “big guns” – Shutterfly and Checkmate – with her in Thermal, Michaels-Beerbaum is setting her sights on qualifying for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. “That’s certainly one of the goals. If I can qualify for the [Pfizer] Million, we’d love to come back to the Unites States in September to compete in that class. Lots of riders in Europe were really impressed with the fact that there is a class of that caliber in the United States.”
For Michaels-Beerbaum this trip to California is about returning to her roots. “I can’t wait to be back in California and to spend some real quality time with my friends and family. And I’m very proud to bring my daughter ‘home’ with me. We’ll be planning something fun for her first birthday!”
The 2011 HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California will begin on Tuesday, January 25 and will feature an impressive 16 Grand Prix qualifiers for the 2011 Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, four of which will be the $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifiers offered during DC II, III, IV and V. The season finale $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach, will close out the circuit on Sunday, March 13. The three EY-Cup Qualifying classes at Thermal will be held during DC III, February 8-13, DC IV, February 22-27, and DC VI, March 8-13. HITS Thermal will also host six Devoucoux Hunter Prix Qualifiers for the Diamond Mills $500,000 3’3” Hunter Prix Final, which will take place September 10-11 in Saugerties, New York as part of the Pfizer Million Weekend.
The HITS Desert Circuit Prize List is available on-line at HitsShows.com. To request a prize list, please click here or call 845.246.8833.
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 on September 12, in Saugerties, New York. 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 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 HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
Photo Credit: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, her husband Markus Beerbaum and their daughter Brianne Victoria will all journey to Thermal, California for the 2011 HITS Desert Circuit. © Richard Michaels.