The second half of the HITS Thermal circuit was just underway as we went to press, with the big $1 Million jumping match set for Sunday, March 16. Amateur Alec Lawler won the first $50,000 class, sponsored by Tuff Rider/Equine Couture, and Saer Coulter made her trip from Florida worth while by winning the second $50,000 class, sponsored by Strongid© 2X™, which was also the first of Thermal's two World Cup qualifiers. The second was slated for Feb. 22, right after we went to press.
Saer Coulter and Springtime have their sights firmly set on the 2014 World Cup Finals and got one step closer to their goal in the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X™ CSI-W2*
Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, at HITS Thermal.
Photo ©Flying Horse Photography
Saer's World Cup berth was already locked in as the top ranking American rider in the West League, but a girl can never have too many points. Mandy Porter's second position looked solid, too, but the West League's third berth for the April Finals in France was primed with possibilities. By the time you read this, the Feb. 22 final West league World Cup qualifier will have determined which of several riders got that prized post: A win or top placing could have put the very consistent Jenni Martin McAllister, Ashlee Bond, Alec Lawler, Vinton Karrasch or even Andrew Ramsay into the mix.
Josephina Nor Lantzman and Chello Z were the only pair to ride clear over Olaf Petersen Jr.'s first-round track to secure an early victory in the $30,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, at HITS Thermal.
Photo ©Flying Horse Photography
Outside of the World Cup standings, new father and veteran Thermal winner John Pearce battled the flu to win the Feb. 9 $50,000 Go Rentals Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis. Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus took the $25,000 Smart Pak Grand Prix earlier in the week. Josephine Nor Lantzman and Texas-based Christian Heineking were also strong in the big ring results. Christian leads the AIG $1 Million list of 40 riders who'll get the chance to vie for the huge money prize.
In the busy and super competitive hunter rings, Nick Haness, John French and Katie Cook have been big winners. Nick rode Sarah-Maeve Hersh-Boyle's Edgewood's Cilantro to first place in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix on Feb. 11. Sarah was going to ride the horse herself in the amateur-owner classes that weekend, but a delayed flight put Nick in the irons and the first year green hunter earned some nice points toward the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final.
Nick Haness and Edgewood's Cilantro are presented with top prizes, including a Horze Equestrian cooler, after winning the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS Thermal. Photo ©Flying Horse Photography
Katie Cook's wins of the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix during weeks 1 and 2, aboard Amy Knox' Symphony, put the pair in a great position for a spot at the series final, held during the HITS Championship show in Saugerties, NY, in September. And veteran pro John French was on a similar track in the early Thermal going, thanks to wins in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, first with Lee Kellogg's Sadrian's Comex Gold, and the next time aboard Soldier. He hopes to make a return visit to Saugerties for the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final.
For up to the minute HITS results, visit www.HITSshows.com.