Ocala, FL - March 23, 2011 - This past Saturday, highly-acclaimed Junior rider Michael Hughes of Morriston, Florida captured the win in the R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship aboard Norton, owned by Drumnacross Farm, LTD. Hughes sealed the victory after a two-round score of 354.
“It was a good class,” said Hughes, who has built a remarkable career in the Junior and Equitation divisions at 15 years old. “I thought the courses in both rounds were difficult, and it seemed like a lot of people had trouble at the triple in the second round.”
Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Muenchen, Germany set the course for the class which had fences set at 3’6” for a field of 22 starters. The first round consisted of a gymnastics-type course, while the second round was fashioned as a technical jumper-type course that required riders to show one simple change of lead and one flying change of lead. The riders jumped for two panels of judges, as well as a schooling area judge, to earn a three-way combined score. Perhaps the most unique specification of the class was that the riders could not be contacted or assisted by trainers, and needed to remain in the designed schooling area at all times, unless escorted by a steward. The trainers watched from ringside as the riders with the top ten scores from the first round returned for the second round, in reverse order.
In the first round, Hughes had the top score of 183, as Molly Braswell of Ocala, Florida aboard Louisburg Farm’s Vigo trailed closely with a score of 181. Braswell earned 126 in the second round from the judges, for a combined score of 307, which would ultimately finish fifth.
Hasbrouck Donovan found her way to the second-place ribbon aboard Don Stewart’s Wagner, after a two-round combined score of 353. Coming into the second round with 177, Donovan gracefully overcame the triple combination that caused the most grief, which helped her earn a score of 176 and the second-place finish behind Hughes.
Third place was awarded to Geoffrey Hesslink of Shelburne, Vermont who finished with a score of 328 aboard Natalie Nicodema’s Adonis.
The win marked an incredible weekend for Hughes, who also took home the victory in the $25,000 U-Dump Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic aboard Missy Clark’s Looping Star, as well as the win in the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Junior Jumper Low Classic on Sunday aboard LaBell, owned by Drumnacross Farm, LTD.
Founded in 1999, the R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Championship was introduced to HITS Thermal in 2008 and made its debut at HITS Ocala in 2009.
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!
R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship
PLACING RIDER SCORE
1 Michael Hughes 354
2 Hasbrouck Donovan 353
3 Geoffrey Hesslink 343
4 Alexandra Carlton 328
5 Molly Braswell 307
6 Abby Bertelson 280
7 Meg O'Mara 274
8 Hannah Marco 265
9 Madison Brayman 261
10 Julie Gravelle 239
Photo Credits: Michael Hughes and Norton on course in the R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida. © ESI Photography.
Joe Calcagno and Lisa Engel of HITS present the awards to Michael Hughes for winning this year's R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. © ESI Photography.