It was a beautiful Wednesday afternoon as the Hits Championship kicked off in the Grand Prix Stadium with the first of four FEI CSI 5* classes offering a total of $670,000 throughout the week. The field was stacked with top riders who will be going to the World Equestrian Games (WEG) next week: McLain Ward and Adrienne Sternlicht of the United States, Emanuel Andrade of Venezuela and Scott Keach of Australia. A third member of the United States team, Devin Ryan, will be competing later this week.
A total of 61 competitors took the course for the $35,000 Hits Saugerties Welcome, with eight producing double clear rounds.
First to return for the jump-off was three-time Olympic Medalist McLain Ward (USA). His ride on Contagious (Contagio x For Keeps) was quick and aggressive, in a time of 38.69 seconds, but a rail at the third fence kept him out of the top spots.
Cormac Hanley would follow and produce the first double clear ride of the day, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 37.84 (seconds) aboard VDL Cartello (Cartani x Lord). The time would hold up for a third place finish when the class was over.
Laura Chapot (USA), already a winne of six Grands Prix at Hits Saugerties this season was next to go and showed he winning ways again. In the irons aboard Chandon Blue (Chacco-Blue x Landcapitol), Chapot pushed ahead of Hanley to finish double clear in a time of 37.30 seconds. Her lead would hold up for the next ten trips, but she would eventually take home the red ribbon for the day.
David Raposa returned next with a clear round in a time of 38.41 seconds, finishing fifth. Along with Iliona (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Lux Z), Raposa also made it back to the jump-off with S&L Sage (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Radiator), finishing just outsided of the placings.
Emanuel Andrade (VEN), eager to continue the success he had at Hits Chicago earlier this summer, had two horses in the jump-off, but ita was not to be his day.
Olympic silver medalist Peter Leone and Capito Z (Capitos x Burggraaf) returned twelfth in the order and produced a smooth clear round in a time of 42.80 for eighth place. Leone has had his fair share of success at Hits Saugerties this season, including a win in the $10,000 Saugerties Steamboat Co. Jumper Classic during the Spring Series.
Santiago Lambre (MEX) qualified two horses for the jump-off, and his ride aboard Dingeman (Nintender x Darnels) was just fractions off a podium finish. A clean round in a time of 38.03 seconds was good for fourth place.
Aaron Vale (USA) & Major
Just one trip later, Aaron Vale (USA) entered the ring aboard Major (Carmague x A’Khan Z). Known for his speed and tight turns, Vale was in a great spot to know just what he had to do for the win. “As everyone here in Saugerties, Laura Chapot (USA) is a very fast rider and had the lead for most of the class, so I knew I would have to catch up to her,” said Vale.
Catch up with her he did, finishing in a blistering time of 37.09 to take the lead. “I had a couple of ideas and I ended up taking a shorter track which was enough to take the win.”
For full results, click here.
Source: Press release from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © Hits Horse Shows / ESI Photography
Categories: CSI 5*