SAUGERTIES, NY (July 27, 2009)—Todd Minikus did it again on Sunday when he captured the blue ribbon and $22,500 aboard Pavarotti in the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix to conclude the HITS-on-the-Hudson V horse show in Saugerties, New York.
Minikus and Pavarotti were the best of 35 horse-and-rider pairs who challenged former Olympic course designer Olaf Petersen’s first-round course and the nine pairs that advanced to the jump-off. The win marks the second triumph of the week for the pair as they toppled a star-studded field of 38 in Friday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix.
"I was very pleased with the outcome today," said Petersen after the class. "Every course designer is happy when 25 percent of the horses in the first round advance to the jump-off, and we hit it exactly today."
"This was a very big course. It was a good challenge for the very top riders who are here this week and we got super results," he continued.
Minikus and Pavarotti laid down the fastest double-clear round when they stopped the clocks in 37.933. "We had just the right amount of horses clear in the first round, which made for a great jump-off," said Minikus. "I shaved off a little time between fences 1 and 2. In any case, it was just enough and we had enough gas in the tank to win both Grand Prix classes this week. "
Two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner McLain Ward continued his success at HITS Saugerties during Sunday's feature class. The Brewster, New York native had two horses in the money when he rode Rothchild to a second-place finish and was fourth aboard Goldika 559. Taking third place in the class was another Olympian, Candice King, who was in the irons aboard AAA Eq's Toronto. Minikus rounded out the list of top finishers when he rode Houlihan Lawrence's Olinda to a fifth-place effort.
Christina McCrea and Sweetheart earned a sixth-place finish collecting $3,750 for owners Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables. Cody Auer and Okio finished seventh in the class and collected $3,000, while Alexa Lowe earned $2,250 and eighth place aboard Windsor Farm Sales' Nadyleen.
After the class was over, Petersen continued to rave about HITS Saugerties. "As a course designer, I am extremely pleased with the footing in this ring. There was absolutely no risk to the riders even after heavy rains today and earlier in the week. The riders today could take very tight turns without risk."
Stepping Stone Farm's trio excels at HITS-on-the-Hudson V
Led by trainer Monty Kelly, three exhibitors from Albany's Stepping Stone Farm had a banner week at HITS-on-the-Hudson V. Taking top honors was Mary Abbruzzese who was Champion in the Children's Hunter 14 & Under and the Children's Equitation 14 & Under Divisions. Her barn mate, Kelsey Hart, was Champion in the Open Equitation 15-17 and Sarah Baum captured the crown in the Intermediate Equitation.
"It speaks volumes about our students to win so many ribbons this week because of the huge numbers at the horse show," said Kelly. "The best riders on the East Coast are here and our kids are going toe-to-toe with them."
More results from HITS-on-the-Hudson V can be found by clicking here.
The action continues today with the $50,000 USEF Junior Hunter Finals followed by HITS-on-the-Hudson VI (July 29 - August 2), featuring the return of the $10,000 USHJA/Chronicle of the Horse International Hunter Derby, the $5,000 Pony Commotion Classic and the big summer finale, the $125,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix to close out the series on Sunday, August 2.
HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS produced its first horse show circuit in Gainesville, Florida in 1982. Since that time, HITS has grown into a nationwide company with world-class hunter/jumper circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
Photo Credits: ©Lili Weik Photography