SAUGERTIES, NY (June 1, 2012) – Two of the top-five slots in today’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, were captured by one man. Jeffery Welles of Brewster, New York rode two YJC Graduates to clean rounds and won the class aboard Noel Love Gross’ Merlin, while finishing fourth on Aries, also owned by Gross.
Ken Krome of Westminster, Maryland presented riders with a challenging 13-obstacle course, which included 16 jumping efforts and its fair share of technical turns and bending lines, as well as a tight time-allowed. The track included three double combinations – a two-stride and two one-strides. The jump-off began with the return of fence nine from the first round – an airy vertical – and was followed by six more obstacles, including the first one-stride combination.
The jump-off welcomed five pairs back into the ring and Peter Leone of Greenwich, Connecticut kicked things off with an eight-fault round to finish in fifth. Welles returned second in the order to post the first clear round and set the Great American Time to Beat at 42.92 seconds aboard Aries.
“There were a lot of right turn rollbacks in this course and [Aries] in particular needs to work on them, so he was resisting a little and we got off to a slow start,” said Welles of his first jump-off appearance. “After we added a stride to the Liverpool, he settled in and we finished well.”
Despite a hard rub on the ninth fence of the first round, Darragh Kenny of Wellington, Florida advanced to the jump-off and stole the lead from Welles in the irons of The Wannahave Group’s Sandor de la Pomme. Even while jumping the last two fences without his right stirrup, Kenny took the lead in a time of 42.21 seconds, which ultimately gave him third place.
After a win in Sunday’s $50,000 Grand Prix, Margie Engle of West Palm Beach, Florida was fourth to ride in the jump-off and again raised the bar with a total time of 41.88 seconds. She and Elm Rock Partners, LLC’s Royce finished in second behind Welles.
“This horse is really young, but he has all the scope in the world and a wonderful attitude,” said Engle of Royce, an eight year old German bred stallion. “Sometimes I feel like he can jump anything. We just have to keep working on getting him fast enough to be competitive.”
Between Royce and her 2011 Pfizer Million mount Indigo, Engle is hoping to pick up her required qualifying classes and punch her ticket once again for this Fall’s Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties, New York.
Welles saved the best for last and rode for the win with Merlin in a time of 40.94 seconds.
“[Merlin] tends to get strong throughout the course, but the turns kept him organized,” said Welles. “He rode well and ended up having enough speed to get it done.”
Welles is also hoping to join Engle in the highly-anticipated Pfizer Million this Fall. After piloting Merlin in last year’s featured event, Welles is primed to return to glory and anticipates that Aries, an 11 year old Dutch bred gelding, is just the horse to get him there.
Tony Hitchcock and Marie Letterii of HITS are joined by Melissa Hamlet of SmartPak to present Jeffery Welles and Merlin with first place awards, which included a bottle Chardonnay, courtesy of Sonoma-Cutrer, after their win in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at HITS Saugerties.
$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
Jumper action got underway on Wednesday with the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome highlighting the happenings in the Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix Stadium. Ronan McGuigan of Far Hills, New Jersey rode to top honors aboard his own Capall Zidane.
Kenny also found the ribbons earlier in the week aboard The Wannahave Group’s Lipton de L’Othain with a second place finish in the Brook Ledge. Following Kenny was Peter Lutz of South Salem, New York in third on Davenport Incorporated’s Indiana 127 and Leone on Lincourt Gino in fourth. Rounding out the top five was Brandie Holloway of Topeka, Kansas on Hays Investment Corp.’s Any Given Sunday.
Ronan McGuigan in the irons of another YJC graduate–Capall Zidane (Concorde x Galoubet A) as the pair rode to victory in Wednesday’s $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at HITS Saugerties.
Ann Kobylenski of HITS presents Ronan McGuigan with first place awards after winning the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at HITS Saugerties.
HITS-on-the-Hudson will shift into high gear this weekend as competition heats up during the second week of the Spring circuit. Qualifying for HITS Championship Weekend will be in the spotlight during the coming days as hunter and jumper riders alike set their sights on September’s Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, all-new HITS $250,000 Hunter Prix Final and coveted Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.
Outside the show ring there is plenty to keep both exhibitor and spectator busy at HITS Saugerties this weekend. Taste of HITS-on-the-Hudson will be back Saturday, June 2 from noon to 2 pm. The return of this popular event will showcase local restaurants and educate HITS spectators and exhibitors alike on where to unwind in the Hudson Valley. Sunday will feature the 25 South Prix Party with DJ Kue at The Tavern at Diamond Mills. Drink specials and dance music begin at 10 pm to celebrate Week 2 and welcome Week 3 of the HITS Saugerties Spring circuit.
About SmartPak Equine
Founded in 1999, SmartPak Equine is the country’s largest online and catalog retailer serving the needs of the active and engaged horse owner. The patented SmartPak™ supplement feeding system has simplified the process of feeding horse supplements and medications, making it easier for thousands of riders to keep their horses healthier by ensuring their supplements are being fed correctly. SmartPak’s diverse and expansive product offering includes its own line of supplements, tack, and horse blankets as well as an extensive selection of leading brands of equine health, apparel, tack, and equipment. SmartPak is a six-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree and is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list. SmartPak is backed by Waltham, Massachusetts-based North Bridge Growth Equity.
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
Horses in bold are graduates of the Young Jumper Championships
1 MERLIN 2002 KWPN g. Hors La Loi II x Emilion (2007 Eastern League Champion 5YO)
JEFFERY WELLES / NOEL LOVE GROSS 0-0/40.94 $7,500
2 ROYCE 2004 OLD s. Cafe au Lait x Grandilot
MARGIE ENGLE / ELM ROCK PARTNERS LLC 0-0/41.88 $5,500
3 SANDOR DE LA POMME 2002 SBS g. Vigo d’Arsouilles x Darco
DARRAGH KENNY / THE WANNAHAVE GROUP 0-0/42.21 $3,250
4 ARIES 2001 OLD g. Argentinus x Grannus
JEFFERY WELLES / NOEL LOVE GROSS 0-0/42.92 $2,000
5 LINCOURT GINO 2003 ISH g. Gino III x Graf Magna
PETER LEONE / MONICA CARRERA 0-8 $1,500
6 VICKI VALE 2002 KWPN m. No Limit x Edison
LISABELLE LA PIERRE / LA CHAUDIERE FARM 1 $1,250
7 DARLING 2004 WES m. Cornet Obolensky x Gralshuter
AINSLEY VINCE / THE DARLING GROUP 2 $1,000
8 ROBIN VAN ROOSENDAEL 1994 BWP g. Skippy II x Goldspring de Lauzelle
ERYNN BALLARD / LOOKING BACK FARM 4 $750
9 CAPITANO 1995 HOL g. Carthago x
DANIELLE TORANO / SIR RULY INC 4 $750
10 INDIANA 127 2002 KWPN g. Indoctro x Voltaire
PETER LUTZ / DAVENPORT INC 4 $500
11 POLYGRAAF 1998 WES g. Polygraf x Sandro Song
BILL LOWRY / WINSOR FARM SALES INC 4 $500
12 VIVE LA VIE 2002 m. Emilion x Codexco
ZACHARY LIBES / BLUE SPRUCE FARM LLC 4 $500