Walk this Way! Nick Haness and Catwalk Lead the Way in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS Thermal

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Thermal, CA (January 31, 2011)--Nick Haness was in a New York State of Mind when he rode Pamela Stewart's Catwalk to the blue ribbon in Sunday's $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix to conclude Desert Circuit I at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California.

"I bought this horse will the sole purpose of qualifying for the Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final," said Stewart. "He is the most incredible jumper that I have ever seen. I hope that we can qualify and attend the Final at HITS Saugerties. I am originally from New York and it would be extra special to go back and show there."

Thanks to Haness (Coto de Caza, California) and Catwalk's performance in Sunday's $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, Stewart's dream could soon become a reality. With the win and one qualifying class under their belt, they are headed down the right path to become eligible to compete in the monumental class that will take place on September 10-11, during Pfizer Million weekend at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

"I am very thankful for this ride," said Haness. "I had my mother here watching today, which made this victory extra special."

During Sunday's feature class for hunters, Haness and Stewart's Catwalk got the best of the 43 horse-and-rider combinations that challenged course designer Rian Beals' (Saugerties, New York) first-round course and the top 15 who were invited back for the second round.

"It was a great first Hunter Prix of the year," said Haness. "Anyone who thought the 3'3" class was going to be easy is dead wrong. This was the real deal and I am glad to be a part of it."

"The course was decorated beautifully and the jumps were really dressed up. This was a first-class event," added Haness.

After the first round Jenny Karazissis (Calabasas, California) seemed to have a stranglehold on the class, as she was first and second aboard Emily Sukert's Bordeaux and Kimberley Narlinger's Rendez-vous, respectively. Haness and Catwalk were sitting in fourth place after round one and needed a near-perfect handy round to climb the ladder. In the second round, Haness and Catwalk moved to the top of the charts when they posted an 87 to fuel their drive to the blue ribbon.

John French (Woodside, California) finished with four horses in the top 12, including a second-place finish aboard Polly Sweeney's Stay-Tuned. Sunday's performance capped off a tremendous week at HITS Thermal for French, as he won five weekly championships and two weekly reserve championships during Desert Circuit I.

Taking third place in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix was Hope Glynn (Petaluma, California) in the irons aboard Helen Mc Evoy's Chance of Flurries. "The course was wonderful," said Glynn. "He (Course Designer Rian Beals) had several different options that allowed riders to showcase their horse’s strengths."

The $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix coincided with Sunday's $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, providing an electric atmosphere on the show grounds. "It's always nice when you have a crowd come out to watch the hunters," added Glynn. "There is so much buzz surrounding this class. If we are fortunate enough to qualify, we will be at HITS Saugerties. We wouldn't miss that for the world ."

Most of the crowd watched the class from The White & Company Private Client Group Hospitality Tent that is located on the berm between the Main Hunter ring and Hunter 2, and features comfortable ringside table and chair seating, flat screen TVs, and wireless internet service.

The all-new Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final is another innovative offering from HITS that has equestrians from around the country eager to earn their spot in this historic event, which takes place the same weekend as the Pfizer Million in Saugerties, New York. For more information on the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, including complete qualifying specifications, please click here.

About Devoucoux
Devoucoux, makers of fine French saddles, is proud to be the title sponsor of each and every qualifying Hunter Prix leading up to this year's phenomenal Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final. The Devoucoux Hunter Prix will be a featured event at all HITS horse shows this season as riders from around the country set out to qualify for the historic Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, which will take place September 10-11 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.  

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!

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix
1 Catwalk Pamela Stewart  Nick Haness  $1,500
2 Stay-Tuned Polly Sweeney  John French $1,000
3 Chance of Flurries  Helen Mc Evoy  Hope Glynn $700
4 Over The Moon  Victoria Komisar  John French  $500
5 Sinclair Tylor Nowell  John French  $400
6 Roccoco Avery Hellman  Avery Hellman  $350
7 Black Pearl  Kimberly Bruce  Shelley Campf  $300
8 Winter Avery Hellman Avery Hellman  $250

Photos: Nick Haness and Catwalk in Sunday's $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS Thermal. © Flying Horse Photography.
HITS Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock, horse owner Pamela Stewart and groom David Bustillos congratulate Nick Haness and Catwalk in the winner’s circle after they won the first $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix of the season at HITS Thermal.  © Flying Horse Photography.