SAUGERTIES, NY (August 6, 2012) – Jeffery Welles’ Pfizer Million fate was sealed on Sunday as he and Aries jumped to a win in the $100,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and picked up his final require d qualifier for September’s Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. Welles, who has earned over $48,000 aboard Aries on the road to the Pfizer Million is now eligible and excited to be a part of the coveted feature class of HITS Championship Weekend, scheduled for September 9.
Thanks to Sunday’s $30,000 winner’s check, Welles jumped from 26th in the Pfizer Million Top 40 Rider Rankings to sit comfortably in the top ten. He piloted Aries – a nine-year-old gelding owned by Noel Love Gross – to the top of a 31-horse field and used an impressively big stride to beat all comers in the jump-off. Welles produced the third clear round of the day over a course set by Canada’s Danny Foster. He was later joined by two more riders in a five-horse second round.
“I took this horse to his very first horse show after Noel [Love Gross] bought him as a four-year-old and it is nice to see all the pieces come together,” said Welles. “He has been quite a project, but I always knew he was a talented jumper and he tried his heart out today.”
As a green horse, Aries was as spooky as they come, according to Welles. But, after several ribbon-worthy performances in Florida over the winter, he admits that Aries has come into his own this past year.
Foster challenged each rider with tall verticals and tricky distances. His triple combination at fence five was, according to Welles, the hardest part of the course. The b-c element of that combination returned as the fourth effort in an eight-obstacle jump-off.
First to appear in the second round was Patricia Griffith of White Plains, New York in the irons of her own Wieminka B. She posted the first clear round of the day over the original course and was on her way to double clear when she clipped a rail at the final fence of the jump-off and settled for fifth place with four faults in a time of 49.40 seconds. Griffith also found glory in the hunter ring over the weekend. She won Saturday’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties and is hinting at an appearance in both the Pfizer Million and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final this fall.
Following Griffith was Cara Raether of Palm Beach, Florida aboard Trelawny Farm, LLC’s Saskia 269. She set the Great American Time to Beat with a clear round in a time of 46.58 seconds. Her glory was short lived, however, as Welles took to the ring next.
“My plan was to gallop fence one, two and three and then take the combination slow,” said Welles. “Aries has a huge stride and he just ate up the ground in the jump-off.”
Despite a deep distance and a hard rub at one of the final fences, Welles and Aries produced the winning time of 44.99 seconds.
Christine McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut and Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables’ Wannick WH were next in the jump-off and went clear in 46.94 seconds. They, however, were knocked to fourth place when Michael Hughes of Morriston, Florida closed out the jump-off with a clear round in 46.45 seconds. Hughes, who is recovering from a broken collar bone which he suffered earlier this season, piloted Christina Fried’s MacArthur to a redeeming second-place finish.
Marie Letterii and Tony Hitchcock of HITS present Jeffery Welles and Aries with first-place awards, including a bottle of chardonnay, courtesy of Sonoma-Cutrer.
With only three weeks of shows left and four qualifying Grand Prix remaining before HITS Championship Weekend, the field for the third-annual Pfizer Million is beginning to take shape. Joining Welles on Sunday, several riders punched their ticket for HITS Championship Weekend. After an impressive winning streak over the past couple weeks at HITS Saugerties, Laura Chapot, of Neshanic Station, New Jersey picked up her eighth qualifier with a top-ten finish aboard Mary Chapot’s Umberto. Danielle Cooper of Syosset, New Jersey, Jeanne Hobbes of Southern Pines, North Carolina, Darragh Kenny of Wellington, Florida and Lillie Keenan of New York, New York also found themselves eligible for Pfizer Million glory after Sunday’s rides.
HITS’ Grand Prix competition will take a week off before heading to Culpeper, Virginia August 15 for two weeks of show jumping at Commonwealth Park and returns to HITS-on-the-Hudson August 29 with one week of competition before HITS Championship Weekend rolls into town with the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final and HITS $250,000 Hunter Prix Final.
Christina Kalinski of Glenview Farms accepted the Week 6 Arenus All-Around Athlete Award from HITS’ Marie Letterii on Sunday.
Arenus presents their Performance and Conditioning Award to Leelee McNeil and Icemana.
Horses weren’t the only competitors on four legs this weekend at HITS Saugerties. After a week of voting it was Rigel, owned by Yvette Smith who received the grand prize in the PMI Exclusive® Top Dog Contest. Pootwo (pictured above), owned by Pat Towle was the runner up.
HITS exhibitors enjoyed a specialty trunk show at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern Friday and Saturday nights. Featured brands included Elizabeth Locke Jewels, DIG, Lux Hair Salon and Der Dau. Diamond Mills also hosted a High-Performance Rider’s Dinner on Thursday evening, which featured some of the world’s top Grand Prix riders as well as representatives from Pfizer Animal Health.
$100,000 Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
Horses in bold are graduates of the Young Jumper Championships
1 ARIES 2001 OLD g. Argentinus x Grannus
JEFFERY WELLES / NOEL LOVE GROSS 0-0/44.99 $30,000
2 MAC ARTHUR 2000 KWPN g. Concorde x unknown
MICHAEL HUGHES /CHRISTINA FRIED / 0-0/46.45 $22,000
3 SASKIA 269 2002 HOL m. Quantum x Carthago
CARA RAETHER / TRELAWNY FARM LLC / 0-0/46.58 $13,000
4 WANNICK WH 2003 KWPN s. Heartbreaker x Joost
CHRISTINE MC CREA / CANDY TRIBBLE & WINDSOR SHOW STABLES / 0-0/46.94 $8,000
5 WIEMINKA B 2003 KWPN m. Cardento x Topas
PATRICIA GRIFFITH / PATRICIA GRIFFITH / 0-4 $6,000
6 UMBERTO 2001 KWPN g. Celano x Roderik
LAURA CHAPOT / MARY CHAPOT / 4 $5,000
7 ROMANTOVICH TAKE ONE 2000 KWPN g. Numero Uno x Karandasj
CHRISTINE MC CREA / CANDY TRIBBLE & WINDSOR SHOW STABLE / 4 $4,000
8 TWISTHER 2000 KWPN s. Farmer x Zevenster
JONATHAN MC CREA / CANDY TRIBBLE & WINDSOR SHOW STABLE / 4 $3,000
9 LINCOURT GINO 2003 ISH g. Gino III x Graf Magna
PETER LEONE / MONICA CARRERA / 4 $3,000
10 CALANTUS 2003 HOL g. Calato x Cantus
DANIELLE COOPER / FIDELITY FARMS INC / 4 $2,000
11 SANDOR DE LA POMME 2002 SBS Vigo d’Arsouilles x Darco
DARRAGH KENNY / THE WANNAHAVE GROUP / 4 $2,000
12 QUOINTREAU UN PRINCE 2004 SF g. Diamant de Semilly x Rosire
LAURA CHAPOT / LAURA CHAPOT & MC LAIN WARD / 4 $2,000