On Sunday, HITS Saugerties welcomed 42 of the world’s top horse and rider combinations to its newly renovated facility in upstate New York for the biggest event of the year – the $300,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI4*. The field was narrowed to six for the tiebreaker, where it was a race to the finish with clear rounds produced by each of the final three athletes. Israeli Olympian Daniel Bluman was the last to return and proved to be the best of the day, beating fellow U.S. Olympian McLain Ward and Contagious by less than 2/10ths of a second. The youngest rider of the day, 17-year-old Zayna Rizvi, produced the first double clear of the day with Exquise Du Pachis to round out the top three.
“Gemma W and I have been together since she was 5 years old and she’s 12 now, so we’ve been together seven years,” expressed Bluman after his win. “She’s won multiple classes in her career. She’s a very fast horse, a real trier, with lots of quality. She really has a great personality too – we love her very much at the barn. We’ve grown together in these last seven years, and she’s a very reliable horse when you put her in the right classes.”
Brian Feigus and Nessaja Named $100,000 USHJA International Derby Winners
Sunday marked the final day of competition for the HITS Championships at HITS Saugerties, but the action was at its peak. Saturday, the top hunter riders in the nation gathered to showcase their mounts during the classic round for the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. On Sunday morning, the top twelve competitors returned for the handy round for the opportunity to demonstrate their mount’s brilliance. In a very competitive group of horses and riders, it was Brian Feigus with his Grand Prix horse Nessaja who impressed the judges the most to garner the highest scores of the day. They found themselves sitting in fourth after the classic round and on Sunday morning used Nessaja’s background in the jumpers to make smooth inside turns and showcase a brilliant hand gallop to jump to the top of the rankings.
Meghan Knapic and Blue Time Top $50,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Following a day of exciting competition among the professional hunter riders in the first round of Friday’s $50,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS Saugerties, 12 combinations returned for the second round on Saturday. After completing a beautiful handy round that offset applause from every direction in THE Ring, Meghan Knapic and Blue Time moved up from second place in the rankings to lead the lap of honor during the highlight event.
In preparation for the final national derby of the season at HITS Saugerties, Knapic started doing as many practice courses as possible back home at First Blue LLC. Since taking over the ride last winter, Knapic focused on showing Blue Time in the Green Hunters for most of the year. Since then, Knapic made it a point to practice doing handy courses and trot jumps with Blue Time, which he eventually started to pick up on his own.
Grace McReynolds and HH Hyyerr Calling Conquer USHJA 3’3″ Adult Jumping Seat Medal Final at HITS Championship
The nation’s top adult equitation riders gathered at the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium for the 2023 USHJA 3’3″ Adult Jumping Seat Medal Final. After two days and three phases Grace McReynolds rode her new partner, HH Hyyerr Calling, to victory with the impressive scores of 88, 86.5, and 90.
“Charlie [HH Hyyerr Calling] is a dream to ride, and Thursday was actually my first time showing him!” explained McReynolds. “He’s very calm in the ring, extremely smooth, and I just feel lucky I had the opportunity to ride him for this class as well as in the Gladstone.”
Britta Lippert and Quintus Garner Gladstone Equitation Amateur Classic Victory at HITS Championship
Eighty-four horse and rider combinations gathered on Saturday evening to vie for the winning honors in the 2023 USHJA Gladstone Equitation Amateur Classic. Britta Lippert with her mount Quintus impressed the judges as soon as they entered the ring. After a stunning classic and handy round, the pair got called back with five others to perform a test, where she eventually claimed the top prize in a very competitive class.
“Quintus is 17, and I’ve had him for eight years now,” explained Lippert. “He’s always been my A/O Hunter, and I normally do equitation on another horse, but this year I decided to try him in the equitation ring. He really stepped up to the occasion and has been doing such an amazing job!”
Zayna Rizvi and Exit of Ice Z Speed to Victory in $45,000 Platinum Performance Jumper Prix
40 competitors raced to be the fastest horse and rider team to go double clear in the $45,000 Platinum Performance Junior/Amateur Jumper Prix. The competition was fierce and after the first round, nine riders returned to the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium to battle in the jump-off for the top of the leaderboard. Of the nine riders, six of them would go double clear. Zayna Rizvi on Exit of Ice Z crossed the timers and garnered the victory with an impressive jump-off time of 38.055 seconds. Right on Rizvi’s heels was Sophia Ahearn on her mount, Quick Bob, clocking in at 38.198 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Hallie Grimes and La Belle Dame Z with their jump-off time of 38.386 seconds, leaving the top three within half a second of each other.
Mark Bluman and La Perla VD Barbierbeek Bypass Competition in $50,000 HITS Grand Prix
Of the 39 horse and rider combinations to compete in Saturday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, Mark Bluman and Booth Show Jumpers’ La Perla VD Barbierbeek took the cake, saving the best for last after topping a 9-horse jump-off. Michael Desiderio and Le Muguet were the first to return in the second round, where the duo ended up being the ones to beat after breaking the beam in 41.052 seconds. However, Caitlin Boyle and Prianti Van Het Mikkenhof would soon take over the lead, finishing their round in 39.227 seconds and besting Desiderio and Le Muguet’s time by nearly two seconds. The last to come back for the jump-off, Bluman and La Perla VD Barbierbeek laid it all on the line and crossed the finish line in 38.669 seconds to eventually lead the lap of honor.
Sydney Smith and Samba Secure $20,000 Bit O’ Straw Derby Victory
Saturday was derby day for many competitors at HITS Saugerties. As the final week of the HITS-on-the-Hudson Series, it meant it was also the final Bit O’ Straw Derby taking place this summer. With $20,000 in prize money, 43 riders put forth their best efforts in order to be on top of the judges’ cards and claim the winning ribbon. Sydney Smith with her mount, Samba, impressed the judges with their round’s smooth turns and their steady pace, earning the team a classic round score 88, a handy round score of 90 for a two-round score total of 178 to ride off with winning honors. The second-place prize went to Cara Garito on her mount, MTM Self Made, while Mary Chase with Hudson VDM rounded out the top three.
Kenzie Smith Scores One-Two Finish in $20,000 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby
Saturday morning, 27 of the nation’s top pony hunters gathered to partake in the HITS Saugerties $20,000 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby. It was an extremely competitive group of pony riders, but Kenzie Smith stood out amongst the crowd and wowed the judges with two beautiful rounds on her pony, Blue Tie Affair. Smith topped the judges’ cards with an impressive two-round total score of 181 led the victory gallop. Smith and her second mount, Power Trip, also had the second-highest score of the day to earn the second-place honors. Marita Zuraitis and Inferno also produced two beautiful rounds to earn the third-place award.
Victoria Colvin and Oakland Victorious in $15,000 Green Hunter Prix
On Saturday afternoon, some of the most promising Green Hunters gathered at the HITS Saugerties Hunter Stadium to show off their skills and prove that they will one day be the top Derby Horses in the nation in the $15,000 Green Hunter Prix. It was top hunter rider Victoria Colvin and her mount, Oakland, who demonstrated two stunning rounds and emerged as victors and to take home the day’s victory. Following in the second-place position was Erica Quinn with Bilbo Baggins, while Callie Seaman and her mount, Devine Romance, claimed the third-place prize.
For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.