As if the buffet table in the VIP tent and the professionally landscaped barn areas weren’t enough, there was yet another clue that visitors to the new horse show grounds in Thermal, Calif., had landed in another world. The annual show was formerly held at the posh polo grounds in nearby Indio. But now the Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) venue is adjacent to a regional airport. That meant that competitors at the AA-circuit hunter and jumper show could fly their personal or business aircraft into the airport, step out onto the tarmac and be less than a half mile from the grand prix ring. It was estimated that more than 50 families flew into Jacqueline Cochran Airport each week during the show that recently concluded.
“Over the past two decades, many of our customers have flown out each weekend to either Palm Springs Airport or to Thermal,” notes Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS, Inc. “But now instead of having to drive for miles to reach the showgrounds, our new location next to the Thermal airport means that they can fly in and be ringside or at their stabling area in a matter of minutes.”
For competitors who struggled to find funds to show at HITS Thermal, the luxury of an airport for private planes was not the amenity foremost on their minds. Instead, they embraced the facility’s expansive food court, the consistent arena footing and the more than adequate schooling areas.