Saugerties, New York, USA – August 5, 2022 – Top show jumping was on display during the final week of the Hits Saugerties Summer Series at Hits-on-the-Hudson during Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. Diego Perez Bilbao (ESP) and Dialuna bested an eight-horse jump-off with a quick but precise effort that would land them a full second ahead of second place finishers David Blake (IRL) and Keoki in the day’s highlight event.
“Dialuna is 9, but she’s a little green,” noted Bilbao. “She was jumping 1.40m in Europe, so I am riding her to develop her for Catherine Kubiak and give her a little bit of experience. She’s placed in her last three classes, and she’s going to jump on Sunday in the $100,000 [HITS Saugerties] Grand Prix. I think she’s going to become a really nice horse. She’s brave, she’s scopey and she’s careful. Right now, it’s just about giving her a little bit of experience that she doesn’t have yet.”
Ken Krome’s (USA) first-round course challenged riders with several technical elements, eventually yielding eight clears that advanced to the tiebreaker. During the jump-off, riders began with a careful vertical on a bending line followed by a rollback to a combination and another sharp turn before slicing across the field to the final two fences.
The first three competitors each lowered the height of a fence, and only half were able to lay down a second clear effort. Katherine Anne Brewer (USA) was the first to do so with Casido 2, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 43.965 seconds. She was soon ousted from the top spot by Lauren Fischer (USA) and Hello Besi, who left all the rails intact in 40.96 seconds, which would hold up for third place.
The best performances of the day came from the last two riders. Bilbao returned with Dialuna and knew he had to lay on the gas to jump to the top of the leaderboard. With neat turns and a good slice to the penultimate fence, the duo galloped through the timers in 38.711 to go to the top of the leaderboard.
David Blake (IRL) and Keoki were the final pair to tackle the jump-off, and they were also speedy and clear, but their time of 39.997 would move into the second-place position, with Bilbao returning to accept the winning prize.
“I went at the end, and Teddy [Demetriou] told me there were not too many clears,” explained Bilbao. “Dialuna doesn’t have much experience in jump-offs, so I just tried to go as fast as I could, but smooth without really taking many risks. I think I did a nice turn to the last jumps on the bending line.”
Bilbao rides with Wolver Hollow Corp in Chester, New York, and enjoys being able to show close to home at HITS-on-the-Hudson. “It’s close to our stables, so that is always nice,” he commented. “HITS always has nice classes with big money in a big ring, and I feel comfortable here.”
Final Results – $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
1) Diego Perez Bilbao (ESP) & Dialuna – 0 / 0 – 38.711
2) David Blake (IRL) & Keoki – 0 / 0 – 39.997
3) Lauren Fischer (USA) & Hello Besi – 0 / 0 – 40.96
Source: Press Release by Rebecca Walton for Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © Hits Horse Shows / ESI Photography