The Competition Heats Up in Desert Circuit VI as Karl Cook Takes Home the Blue In the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix and $15,000 UltrOz Jumper

Thermal, CA (March 7, 2016): Week VI's big competiiton and big money opportunities continued into the weekend. The rider in the winner's circle was Karl Cook, who took home back to back wins in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix and the $15,000 UltrOz Jumper.

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

Forty-three riders attacked the course in hopes of claiming the blue ribbon and the lion’s share in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix at HITS Desert Horse Park in Week VI of the Desert Circuit. An impressive lineup of competitors filled the Order of Go including Olympians Will Simpson and Rich Fellers, but the victory would go home with Woodside, California, equestrian Karl Cook aboard Basimodo, owned by Signe Ostby, in an all-out battle with Chris Pratt of Lake View Terrace, California.

Both the time allowed  and rails were  factors in the first-round of Friday’s course set by Brazilian course designer Marina Azevedo as only three competitors jumped fault-free.  Two others jumped clean with no rails down, but incurred time faults.  Eighteenth in the order, Will Simpson of Westlake Village, California, and E-Unanime De La Haie, owned by Monarch International, was the first to leave all the rails up in the first round, but two heartbreaking time faults ultimately landed them in fifth-place.

The crowd watched in anticipation as round after round, riders failed to master the course. After twenty-two trips of what seemed to be an unconquerable 16-jumping efforts within a tight time allowed, Chris Pratt and Cruise, owned by Indigo Farms LLC, came in to prove that it could be done.  The pair became the first to qualify for the eventual three-horse jump-off.  Pratt was the winner of the $350 HITS Grand Prix during Desert Circuit III on another mount. 

Peter Petschenig followed Pratt three trips later piloting Colour Your Life, co-owned with Pam-Bilek Petschenig, leaving all of the rails up, but a single time-fault by just fractions of a second earned them the eventual fourth-place for their efforts.

Another seven trips would pass, and a jump-off did not seem to be on the horizon until the victors themselves, Cook and Basimodo entered the ring. They made it through clean and quick to ensure a jump-off.

Second-to-last in the order, Pratt returned on his second ride, Concorde, owned by the Epic Group.  Pratt also qualified Concorde for the jump-off, ensuring himself two of the three jump-off spots.

Pratt was the first to return to contest the shortened course aboard Cruise. They zipped through the course with no rails down, crossing the timers in a speedy 36.845 to set the jump-off tone.

Cook and Basimodo followed. The powerhouse equestrian navigated his mount through the 8-fence course, shaving off time as the talented bay Dutch Warmblood gelding covered the ground. The clock ticked by and the atmosphere was electric as cheers poured from the stands.  They clocked in at 35.382 to take over the lead and eventual win.

The win was not sealed for Cook yet, however, as Pratt still had one more chance to claim the title with Concorde. An unfortunate rail at the second fence of the jump-off ensured the win for Cook and gave Pratt second and third place.

“Marina set a very technical track, with some very tricky elements. Chris has had a great circuit and I knew I needed to be on my game, but Basimodo makes that pretty easy. I guess Friday was my day. Big congratulations to Chris for having two of the three clear.” said Cook.
Place   Horse Owner Rider/Country Prize R.1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Basimodo Signe Ostby Karl Cook $7,500   0 0 35.382
2 Cruise  Indigo Farms LLC Chris Pratt $5,500 0 0 36.845
3 Concorde The Epic Group LLC Chris Pratt $3,250 0 4 RET
4 Colour Your Life Peter/Pam Bilek Petschenig Peter Petschenig $2,000 1 - -
5 E-Unanime De La Haie Monarch International William Simpson $1,500 2 - -
6 Saint Quentin Peter Petschenig Peter Petschenig $1,250 4 - -
7 Arthos R Montis Horse Management LLC Kasey Ament $1,000 4 - -
8 Lux Lady Harry & Mollie Chapman Rich Fellers $750 4 - -
9 Uppercut Charannais Pamela Bilek Peter Petschenig $500 4 - -
10 Coco D' Eclipse Megan Camaisa Tanya Levorchick $500 4 - -
11 Cupilor Cross Creek Farms, Inc Michelle Parker $500 4 - -
12 BB Casablanca Georgy Maskrey-Segesman Ken Dickey $500 4 - -
Karl Cook and Basimodo winning the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. 
$15,000 UltrOz Jumper 

The heatwave took a break on Saturday afternoon of Week VI at the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California, but the riders did not, turning up the heat as they competed to win the blue in the $15,000 UltrOZ Classic Jumper in the HITS Grand Prix Stadium.

Hot off yesterday’s $25,000 Smartpak Grand Prix win, Karl Cook of Woodside, California, did it again this time riding Signe Ostby’s Caillou 24, as he topped the leader board of the $15,000 UltrOZ Jumper Classic in the HITS Desert Circuit, Thermal.

FEI course designer Marina Azevedo from Campinas, Brazil, set an inviting course of 15 jumping efforts on a forward track for the first round test set at 1.40 meters. The jump-off included several tight rollback turns.  Nine of the 41 were clear in the first round with three of the nine producing clear jump-off rounds.

First to successfully negotiate the first round was owner and rider Joelle Froese of Abbotsford, British Colombia, aboard Romeo’s Child. She was also clear in the jump-off in a time of 34.408 to take a short-lived lead. Her time would eventually be good enough for third-place. 

Next to tackle the jump-off was Will Simpson abroad Carige owned by Monarch International of Chatsworth, California. Simpson and Carige galloped through the roll-back turn to the last vertical finishing clean in a time of 32.380 to take the lead from Joelle and Abbotsford.  The fast time would put Simpson in second place when the class was done.

Following Simpson was Joie Gatlin of San Juan Capistrano, California, riding Thumbs Up owned by Linda Starkman. Gatlin and Thumbs Up performed the 7 effort jump-off with the fastest time in the class, but had an unfortunate rail resulting with a four-fault score crossing the timers in 29.791 seconds and landing them in fourth place.

Two more jumped off without a clear round until Friday’s Grand Prix winner, Karl Cook riding Caillou 24 entered the HITS Grand Prix Stadium. The beautiful grey gelding sped around the course making all the inside turns look easy in a blazing time of 30.104 to set the Great American Time to Beat and grasp the eventual win.

Next into the arena was Enrique Gonzalez of San Diego, California riding his own mount Zapzerzap. Gonzalez had his eye on the prize as he approached the last fence with a speedy time of 30.148 seconds, but had the last rail down resulting in a fifth-place finish.

Cook has had a fantastic week at HITS Thermal.  He also won Saturday’s $5,000 Electronic Vet Jumper Classic and Friday’s Smartpak Grand Prix.

“Marina [the course designer], once again set a great track and I was very happy with Caillou; he’s a special horse and I’m really happy with where he’s at,” said Cook. “I have a great team around me that’s very supportive and made these last couple days so successful.”

Place      Horse Owner Rider/Country Prize R.1 Faults JO Faults JO Time  
1 Caillou 24  Signe Ostby Karl Cook $4,350    0 0 30.104
2 Carige  Monarch International William Simpson $3,150 0 0 32.380
3 Romeo's Child Joelle Froese Joelle Froese $2,100 0 0 34.408
4 Thumb's Up  Linda Starkman Joie Gatlin $1,400 0 4 29.791
5 Zapzerzap 
Enrique Gonzalez
Enrique Gonzalez $1,100 0 4 30.148
6 Coupis Leslie Nelson Rich Fellers $800 0 4 31.619
7 Chapeau  RHYS Farms, LLC Matt Archer $650 0 4 32.410
8 Andiamo VH Kapelhof Z  Jackie Herod Jackie Herod $550 0 4 33.836
9 Calidore  Samantha Burkhart Economou $450 0 4 36.102
10 Lorelei  Linda Smith Trudi Fletcher $450 4 - -
11 Bert  Emily Cohodes Kristin Hardin - 4 - -
12 Famko S Gabrielle Cirelli Lindsay Archer - 4 - -
(C) ESI Photography 
Karl Cook and Caillou 24 winning the $15,000 UltrOz Jumper.
About HITS, Inc.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the Village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York, and Virginia.

While hosting the richest weekend in show jumping at HITS-on-the-Hudson, HITS also formed the Triple Crown of Show Jumping. This includes the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, presented by MortgageCall, in Thermal, California, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix in Ocala, Florida and Canadian Pacific $1 Million Grand Prix FEI CSI-5*, presented by Wells Fargo, in Saugerties, New York.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit Stay connected with HITS! Join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Media should contact the HITS Media Team at 845.246.8833 or e-mail