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Mark Bluman & Hanakine Hasten the Pace to Win $100,000 Alliant Grand Prix at Hits Saugerties

Saugerties, New York, USA – May 29, 2022 – This week, Mark Bluman (COL) proved that it took no time to develop a partnership with his new mount Hanakine. Hits-on-the-Hudson I marks only their second competition together, and on Sunday they claimed their second win of the week. Bluman and Hanakine dominated the $100,000 Alliant Grand Prix, besting a six-horse jump-off by almost two seconds to earn their most significant win to date. 

“He’s a 9-year-old that I just started riding, but he just wants to please,” noted Bluman. “He goes in the ring and tries to do the job. He proved this week that he is willing to work with me and it worked out really well!”

Jamie Morillo set a welcoming track for the first Sunday grand prix of the season at Hits-on-the-Hudson. It featured a technical oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination as the fifth test on the course, followed by a triple bar. It finished with a vertical-oxer double combination on a bending line to the final liverpool vertical. Six advanced to the tiebreaker where they began over three new fences followed by the triple bar, and finished with the second half of the triple combination, having removed the first oxer. Four produced another fault-free effort to earn a spot atop the leaderboard.

Heather Caristo-Williams (USA) & Dionysos de La Vigne

Heather Caristo-Williams (USA) had two mounts in the jump-off and returned first aboard QBS Equestrian’s Dionysos de La Vigne. Never touching a rail, they sailed through the course and stopped the clock at 40.377 seconds to set the Great American Time to Beat. Their lead did not hold for long as Mark Bluman (COL) and Tal Milstein’s Belgian Sport Horse Hanakine (Baltik Sitte x Acodetto 2) took to the short course next. The duo kicked it off in high gear, leaving a stride out in the first line. They continued to make tight turns and leave out strides, dashing across the finish line in a blazing 37.718 seconds that would prove unbeatable.

Morgan Ward (USA) & Cesar de B’Neville

The next two riders each incurred 4 faults, but Morgan Ward (USA) had her eye on the prize with Morlynn Farm’s Cesar de B’Neville. They carefully traversed the track, leaving all the rails intact for a clear round in 39.453 seconds to take over the second-place position. Caristo-Williams was the last to return with her second mount, Marie VD Mespel Z, owned by Ralph Caristo. She opted for a conservative clear that broke the beam at 41.000 seconds, falling just behind Dionysos de La Vigne for fourth place, while Bluman returned to lead the lap of honor.

“I saw Heather go, and she had an efficient clear,” explained Bluman. “There were a couple more following behind me, and my plan was just to go as fast as I could and leave all the jumps up. I was using his stride to leave strides out. I left a stride out from one to two and then the turn to three was also tighter. I did one less to the triple bar than anyone else and one less to the next vertical. It worked out today and it’s a nice win!”

Bluman appreciates the relaxed atmosphere at Hits Saugerties as he works to develop partnerships with his new mounts. “It’s very easy-going here, people try to work with you,” he commented. “You come here after a very busy horse show that is a little bit more hectic and you feel more relaxed. It’s a good place to bring up young horses!”

Jumper action at Hits Saugerties will continue over the next two weeks of the Spring Series as part of the complete Hits-on-the-Hudson season, which runs through September at the world-class facility. The Saugerties Spring Series will feature a $100,000 Grand Prix each week, in addition to the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix each Friday. Classics in the Junior/Amateur Jumpers close out the week, in addition to the High, Low and Modified Children’s and Adult Jumper Classics, which are qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.

Mark Bluman (ISR) & Hanakine during the awards ceremony

Final Results – $100,000 Alliant Grand Prix

1) Mark Bluman (COL) & Hanakine – 0 / 0 – 37.718

2) Morgan Ward (USA) & Cesar de B’Neville – 0 / 0 – 39.453

3) Heather Caristo-Williams (USA) & Dionysios de La Vigne – 0 / 0 – 40.377

Source: Press Release by Rebecca Walton for Hits Horse Shows

Photos: © ESI Photography