The R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship Returns to HITS Desert Circuit in Week VIII

Thermal, CA (March 24, 2016):  The R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship, which requires riders to do the entire class without their trainers, is not an easy class to win. Junior riders competed in HITS Grand Prix Stadium at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California, for a blue-ribbon victory in the R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship on Friday as the final weekend dawned for the 2016 Desert Circuit.

The class is named in honor of the well-known rider, teacher, trainer, and judge Ronnie Mutch, who for many years operated Nimrod Farm in Weston, Connecticut.  At Nimrod, Ronnie produced a number of Medal and Maclay winners, including Ronnie’s own son Bert Mutch, a well-known West Coast rider and trainer.  The Equitation Championship is a two-round class during which riders must walk the course, school their horse, and ride the class, all without any coaching from their trainers.  The first round included gymnastics, trot poles, and combinations and required riders to counter canter from jump one to two.  The top ten returned under the lights for a second round to contest a technical jumper-style course.

The rider to beat was Jaden Olsen of Parker, Colorado, aboard her own Clearview. As the second-to-last rider in the order, Olsen piloted her mount to garner a second-round score of 159, which combined with the highest score of the first-round, 172, gave them a winning total of 331 to step way ahead of the competition on the leaderboard.  Olsen is trained by Michael Dennehy.

"Jaden continues to grow and mature as a rider and I was very hopeful she would win," said Olsen's trainer Michael Dennehy. "I really like the format of this class, it was hard to sit back and watch as a trainer, but it was great because I was so impressed that she really applied what she's learned."

Second in the ribbons was West Lake Village, California, equestrian Elli Yeager. Yeager, who is only fourteen, piloted her own Copperfield 39 to consistent rides with a first-round score of 161, improving to a 162 in the second round for a total of 323 for their efforts.

Ransome Rombauer of St. Helena, California, came in behind Yeager by just a half of a point. Rombauer rode Lalonde, owned by Alexis Graves, to a comeback in the second-round earning a score of 174, which combined with their first-round score of 148.5, earned them third-place.  

Fourth-place went to Nanaimo, British Columbia equestrian Kassidy Keith. Keith piloted Chantale Entz’s Rigoletto to a first-round ride that scored 151, improving to a 161 in the second-round to earn a total of 312.

The top five rounded out with Samantha Gastelum of Trabuco Canyon, California, and her own Romanee Conti. Gastelum garnered the finals spot in the top five with consistent scores of 154 in both rounds, totaling 308 for fifth-place.

   Horse  Owner Rider
R.1 Score R.2 Score Total
1 Clearview  Jaden Olson Jaden Olson - 172 159 331
2 Copperfield 39  Elli Yeager Elli Yeager - 161 162 323
3 Lalonde  Alexis Graves Ransome Rombauer - 148.5 174 322.5
4 Rigoletto  Chantale Entz Kassidy Keith - 151 161 312
5 Romanee Conti Samantha Gastelum Samantha Gastelum - 154 154 308
6 Spero  Tali DeJong Tali DeJong - 149.5 142 291.5
7 Caracas 89 Elvenstar Farm Sydney Hutchins - 145 119 264
8 Balou du Silva October Hill Hunters and Jumpers Grady Lyman - 179 69 248
Jaden Olson and Clearview on their way to a R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship win at HITS Thermal. 
$5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix
Week VIII hunter exhibitors took to the ring to compete for the Desert Circuit’s final qualifying opportunity for the $250,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix at the HITS Championship in September. 

A new horse and rider emerged victorious in the $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, and that team was Eleanor Hellman of San Francisco, California, and her own Nigel. Trained by Ned Glynn, they topped the field to garner the blue with a second round score of 82, combined with a first-round score of 83 for a winning total of 165, taking home the prized Desert Circuit Platinum Performance victory.

Aya Clear and her own Gabriel finished behind Hellman for second-place with a first-round score of 78, a second-round score of 84, totaling 162 for their efforts. The Piedmont, California, equestrian has won multiple Platinum Performance Hunter Prix titles this circuit including, first-place in Week II and multiple top five finishes throughout the season. Clear is also trained by Glynn, who had a great Prix, training not only the first and second place riders, but also the fourth and fifth.

Third in the ribbons was Stella Wasserman of Beverly Hills, California, aboard Laura Wasserman’s Fine Design. Wasserman, trained by Archie Cox, navigated the course to earn the highest score of the first round, an 87, combined with a second-round score of 70 for a total of 157.

Katie Lee of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Autobahn, owned by Katie Lee, LLC., finished in fourth-place with consistent scores of 77 and 76, respectively for a total of 151. The top five rounded out with Sarah Hellman, and Falcon, owned by Sabrina Hellman, with a first-round score of 76, second-round score of 75 to place just behind Lee with a total of 150.
Place     Horse  Owner Rider Prize R.1 Score R.2 Score Total
1 Nigel  Eleanor Hellman Eleanor Hellman $1,500 83 82 165
2 Gabriel Aya Clear Aya Clear $1,000 78 84 162
3 Fine design Laura Wasserman Stella Wasserman $700 87 70 157
4 Autobahn  Katie Lee LLC Katie Lee $500 77 76 153
5 Falcon  Sabrina Hellman Sabrina Hellman $400 76 75 151
6 Swagger  Gabriella Zupancic Jenny Karazissis $325 72 78 152
7 Geniune Curtis Holdings Inc Chad Mahaffey $300 66 68 134
8 Fenway  Aya Clear Aya Clear $275 82 45 127
(C) ESI Photography
Eleanor Hellman and Nigel on their way to a $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix win at HITS Thermal. 
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.

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