Desert Circuit III was in full swing as the $100,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix kicked off an exciting weekend at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. Riders and horses were chomping at the bit for a chance to win the blue ribbon and a winning purse of $30,000.
Eight were able to maneuver through the first round course fault free over Portugal course designer, Bernardo Cabral’s 15 jumping efforts. When the jump-off was over, the team to beat was Purina® sponsored rider Rich Fellers of Sherwood, Oregon, aboard Lux Lady owned by Harry & Mollie Chapman of Wilsonville, Oregon. Second-place went to Thursday’s $65,500 Wilmington Trust Grand Prix winner Eric Navet riding from Panileuse, California, and Catypso, owned by Signe Ostby. Los Angeles rider, Chris Pratt, took home third-place with Edesa’a Basantos, owned by Edesa Horse Promotions Inc
First into the Grand Prix Stadium for the jump-off was Susie Hutchison of Temecula, California, and Ziedento, owned by St. Bride’s Farm. Hutchison put down a fast, clear jump-off round galloping through the timers in 43.097 seconds to set the tone for the jump-off field of eight.
Next to test the shortened course was Jenn Serek of Calgary, riding her own Okapi De Printemps. Serek navigated the course with ease but could not capture the lead as they crossed the timers in 49.520 seconds.Two trips went with four faults for both Jill Henselwood and Harley Brown. Henselwood ultimately earned seventh and Brown was eighth.
Chris Pratt and Edesa’s Basantos entered the jump-off next to reignite the streak of clear jump-off rounds. They jumped fault-free to claim the temporary lead, crossing the timers in 40.410 seconds. Fellers and Lux Lady entered the jump-off second-to-last. With his eye on the prize, Fellers sped through the jump-off to finish in a speedy 39.052 seconds, where the lead would remain.
Navet and Catypso moved through the jump-off beautifully and quickly. As Navet cleared the final obstacle, he fell behind Fellers by a fraction of a second, crossing the marker in 39.505 for second-place.The top five on the leader board was finalized with Hutchison’s round for fourth-place and Serek’s round for fifth-place.
“After a year off for Lady Lux because of an injury, I could have not asked of anything more from her. She felt super,” said Fellers. “It was also very special to me that Purina®, not only sponsors me and my horses, but also sponsored this Grand Prix with that amount of prize money.”
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.