The Hits Horse Shows Showplace End of Summer II at Hits Chicago came to a close last Sunday Balmoral Park after two weeks of great FEI-level competition. With over ten countries being represented, the showgrounds was buzzing with action from the national classes to the featured FEI events.
Sunday, an excited crowd gathered in the stands as they waited for the first horse to go into the ring. The crowd amped up the riders as they finished walking the course set up with 1.50m-1.60m fences. Thirty-eight riders would enter the rin, but only one would come out the winner. After a challenging course, built by Guilherme Jorge (BRA), seven combinations ended up advancing to the jump-off. “It’s a very prestigious class and I think I built a good course for that,” said Jorge. “It was nice to watch the horses jump in the first three classes so I could get a feel for what I was working with and built the course based on that.”
The first round proved challenging for some, but Rowan Willis (AUS), Margie Engle (USA), Ali Wolff (USA), Scott Keach (AUS), Andrew Kocher (USA), Beth Underhill (USA) and Mattias Tromp all came out with clear rounds. Going into the jump-off, the crowd anticipated every jump and every tun, waiting to see who would win it all. First to show in the jump-off was Underhill (CAN) aboard Count Me In. ”This is his first CSI 5*, so going first I didn’t want to push too hard, but I did want to put a little pressure on the riders behind me,” said Underhill. Her tactic musta have worked, because she ended up on top, taking the win aboard the 11-year-old bay Hannoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes) with a jump-off time of 38.65 seconds and taking home a prize money check worth $165,000.
Beth Underhill (CAN) & Count Me In
“We first came to Balmoral in June and had a great time, so we decided to come back. This is all a little surreal right now.”
Keach, riding for Australia, pushed his mount Fedor to try to catch up to Underhill, but it wasn’t quite enough, ending up in second place after registering a jump-off time of 38.81 seconds, less than half of a second behind the Canadian. “The footing here is very good and having Guilherme build the course was excellento preparation for the Saugerties CSI 5* and the World Equestrian Games,” said Keach.
American rider Andy Kocher was third aboard Kahlua after completing the jump-off in 38.98 seconds, only a tenth of a second behind Keach, as the last ones to go clear in the jump-off round. “I’m heading to Switzerland next for a couple of CSI 3* competitions and the I will be back in the states for the Saugerties CSI 5*,” Kocher said when asked about what was in store for him next. Willis was fourth aboard his mare, Blue Movie, in a four-penalty jump-off performance of 36.12 seconds. Fifth place was conquered by Ali Wolff (USA) and Casall, after registering the same score as the previous two in 38.13 seconds.
“I’m really proud to be a part of this. I’ve been doing horse shows for 35 years in Chicago and to have a CSI 5* event is amazing. I could never have done it without the help of Tom Struzzieri and HITS,” said Pat Boyle, Show Manager of Hits Chicago. Hits Chicago will be back for two more weeks in September.
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Source: Press Release by Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography
Categories: CSI 5*