Thermal, CA: The HITS Coachella Desert Circuit is in full swing and riders and horses from near and far turned out for the grand finale of Week II, the $75,000 Go Rentals Grand Prix.
The course was set and the crowd was ready to cheer on their favorite competitors to victory. Course designer Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico, designed a captivating course for the 34 competitors. Seven would succeed to the jump-off where three would go clear for a shot at the victory.
The team to emerge victorious was Michelle Parker and Cupilor, owned by Cross Creek Farms, Inc. They stole away the win as the second to last trip over the abbreviated course, stopping the clock in a fault-free 44.163-seconds to top the leaderboard.
Will Simpson garnered second place with The Dude, owned by Nicole Walker. Simpson has been consistently in the top ribbons at the 2017 HITS Coachella Desert Circuit, winning the $25,000 SmartPak Open Prix in Week I and taking home first and second place in the Week II Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome.
Simpson and The Dude entered the ring second in the order of the jump-off during Sunday’s class. They put down a great round in 45.224, leaving all of the rails up. Their solid trip would hold up through the next 7 trips of the jump-off, until Parker came calling.
The final clear round this jump-off would see belonged to Tiffany Sullivan aboard Christian Grey, owned by Haley Farms, LLC. As they crossed the timers with all the jumps intact, the clock stopped at 53.728, not quick enough to take the lead, but good enough for the eventual third-place prize.
Richard Spooner and Cristallo, owned by Show Jumping Syndications, Inteernational, put down the quickest trip of the four-faulters in 44.792. Going as the final pair in the order, right after Parker, it looked like a Cinderella win was on the horizon, but a heart-breaking rail at the final fence ultimately put them in fourth place.
Rounding out the top five was Christian Heineking riding NKH Calango, owned by NKH, LLC. They stopped the clock in 45.150 with four faults, which they picked up at the penultimate fence in the course. Heineking also earned the tenthplace ribbon on the the day with NKH Quanto, owned by October Hill Hunters & Jumpers.
As Week III takes flight as HITS Desert Horse Park riders, friends and family can all enjoy a few extra special additions to the circuit, like ultra-high-speed internet and a free livestream on HITS TV of each Grand Prix on Friday & Sunday, courtesy of ShowNet. For more information, please click here. We’re counting down to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Thermal Qualifier during Week IV on Saturday, February 11. For tickets, click here.