Florida Hunter/Jumper Show Circuit Kicks off on February 8

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Hunter riderIf the weather was a sign of things to come, then the 2011 Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) Ocala Winter Circuit is sure to be another spectacular season. The HITS Ocala Pre-Circuit came to an end on Sunday after two special weeks of exciting show jumping, which now paves the way for the highly anticipated six-week, AA-rated circuit set to start on Tuesday, February 8.

The road to the Pfizer Million
HITS, Inc. made history in 2010 when it produced the richest Grand Prix in the world, the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. The unprecedented class was one of the most widely anticipated events in the equestrian world and featured many from the HITS Ocala Grand Prix roster. The HITS Ocala Pre-Circuit offered two Grand Prix qualifiers for the Pfizer Million, providing High-Performance riders an early opportunity to earn a spot in the 2011 Pfizer Million for a chance at show-jumping glory. McLain Ward and Sapphire won the inaugural Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix in 2010.

The $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, was held each Sunday of the Pre-Circuit and saw Ocala newcomer Andres Rodriguez and established superstar Tracy Magness stand tall at the end of the two-week competition with first-place honors.

“Andres [Rodriguez] plans on showing a lot more here in Ocala this season in order to qualify for the Pfizer Million,” said trainer and fellow Grand Prix veteran Sergio Campos. “He’s a talented rider and I’m excited that he won the Grand Prix here.”

Magness and Tarco Van Ter Moude appear to be poised for another successful run as the team added to their storied career with a victory in Sunday’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and a win in last week’s $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. Winning won’t come easy for Magness and Rodriguez, as Ocala is packed with a who’s who of high-performance riders looking to claim their share of the great prize money up for grabs and a spot in the Pfizer Million Rider Rankings.

The Hunt is on!
The announcement of the Diamond Mills $500,000 3’3″ Hunter Prix Final has caught the attention of just about everyone on the Ocala circuit, including those who keep the hunters secondary to their jumper agenda.

Each week of the HITS Ocala Pre-Circuit, the $2,500 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, a qualifier for the all-new Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, was one of the most anticipated events on the show schedule. Professionals, amateurs, children and adults filled the card, making for an exciting and crowd-pleasing feature for hunters.

In the opening week, Kelley Farmer won the Devoucoux Hunter Prix riding Capone, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare, beating out 22 entries in the class. One week later, seasoned hunter star Betty Oare took matters into her own hands and rode Capone to win Sunday’s $2,500 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.

“I was so surprised when I won,” said Oare, who heard her name announced as the winner on Sunday. “I didn’t think I had won it! There were a lot of great rounds in the class, and I was super excited when they announced us as the winners. All the classes leading up to the Final are so important, and so far they’ve been wonderfully done.”

Oare plans to show at HITS Ocala for the full circuit and at HITS Culpeper, which is right down the road from her Warrenton, Virginia home, in the hopes of qualifying for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, which will be held September 10-11 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York during the Pfizer Million Weekend.

Prize money for these exciting ‘shadbelly extravaganzas’ will range from $5,000 to $10,000 throughout the HITS Ocala rated circuit. In order to become eligible for the Diamond Mills $500,000 3’3″ Hunter Prix Final a rider on any horse/horses will need to compete in five or more Devoucoux Hunter Prix at any combination of HITS Shows during the qualifying period. Once a rider has competed in five Devoucoux Prix, they will become eligible and their points on their leading horse will place them in HITS Hunter Prix Final Rider Rankings. For more information on the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, visit HITSShows.com.

Odor-No-More is back for more
The Odor-No-More Grooms Award was presented both weeks of the HITS Ocala Pre-Circuit. During the Ocala January Classic, the grooms of EMO stables received the award, while the hardworking grooms at Ashmeadow Farm earned the honor for the Ocala January Festival.

Odor-No-More Products are eco-friendly solutions which provide animal owners the ability to save time and money maintaining their animal’s enclosures. The products consist of a proprietary blend of micro-nutrient salts that are commonly found in animal feed supplements and hoof care products, to safely eliminate odors and wetness. For more information on Odor-No-More, please visit OdorNoMore.com.

The Sanctuary Reserve
The Sanctuary, HITS Ocala’s Official Equine Sports Therapy Center located right down the road from the show grounds, is excited to be the sponsor of a new weekly award, The Sanctuary Reserve. This award will be given to the second-place finisher in a select class each week at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. The very first Sanctuary Reserve was presented to Cathy Inch and Katriina Ruotsalo’s Rainier, for their second-place finish in the $2,500 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at the Ocala January Classic. At the Ocala January Festival, Susan Banta Lowery and her own Nike received the honors when they finished second in the $5,000 Marshall & Sterling Child/Adult Jumper Championship – Final Leg.

Back in the Barns!
The AA-rated HITS Ocala Winter Circuit is set to take off on Tuesday, February 8 and will be highlighted by 12 more qualifiers for the Pfizer Million, five more qualifiers for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, a host of new classes and, of course, the season finale $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, on Sunday, March 20. As riders pursue their golden opportunities to earn Circuit Championships in more than 70 different divisions, and qualify for the Pfizer Million and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, HITS has a full lineup of special events throughout the season to keep the social scene as busy as the rings.

For more information on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, or to request a prize list, please visit HITSShows.com or call 845.246.8833.

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