Cooper Dean Captures the Win in the HITS Equitation Championship

Ocala, FL (March 27, 2016): The lights of the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium gleamed down on competitors for the return of the HITS Equitation Championship. Cooper Dean, of Fayette, Alabama, took home the evening’s top honors in Ocala, Florida.

"This was a great opportunity and it feels amazing to win a class as important as this one," said Dean. "The course was tougher and was a good challenge; I thought the course designer was very unique. I think a lot of my ground work as a groom in the past contributed to my success, that foundation is just as important as a winning ride." 

After ten weeks of qualifying opportunities throughout the HITS Ocala Winter Show Circuit, thirty-two juniors took their chance at the technical course, set at 3’6”, designed by Tim Hott of Cumming, Iowa.  Competitors were judged by two sets of officials who evaluated their abilities as emerging horsemen and women. The course tested not only their competence in the ring, but also their efforts in the schooling area, as all riders turned in their cell phones and left their trainers in the stands.

A warm-up judge was solely assigned to evaluate how efficiently the riders utilized their time in the warm-up ring and their effectiveness in schooling their horses. Riders banded together as they walked the courses, warmed up and competed all on their own, forming a sense of camaraderie among opponents. The course included gymnastics, trot fences, oxers, verticals and combinations in the first round, with the second round displaying a more technical, jumper-style course, including an open water element at an option fence.

As the top 12 returned to contend for the blue in the two-round championship, Dean was feeling confident after sealing the second-highest score of the first round, an 89, to continue into the second round. Dean earned a second-score of 85.5 in the second round, which combined with his first-round score, produced a winning total of 174.5. 

“This class requires the kids to do the work on their own, and as a trainer you have to trust that they’ll use everything that you’ve taught them up to that point,” said Dean’s trainer Aaron Vale. “Cooper is a great rider and works very hard, and it’s great to see that last night’s scores rewarded him for all of his efforts.”

Grace Boston of Owings Mills, Maryland, trailed Dean with a close finish for second-place. She received a first-round score of 87 and a second-round score of 85, just a few points shy of Dean’s victorious round for a total of 172.

Also in the ribbons was East Rockaway, New York, equestrian Alec Tolle. Tolle earned scores of 83 and 86 for a total of 169 for third-place.

Abigail Russo of Grantville, Pennsylvania, secured the fourth-place prize with consistent scores of 83 in both rounds.

Rounding out the top five just behind Russo was Elizabeth Bailey of Roanoke, Virginia. She earned a first-round score of 84, combined with a second-round score of 81 for a total of 165, giving her fifth-place. 
Place       Horse  Owner Rider Prize  R.1 Score R.2 Score Total
1 Denver S Anne Seline Cooper Dean - 89 85.5 174.5
2 Hasta La Vista Century Performance Grace Boston - 87 85 172
3 UpCountry Panteon Phoenix Farms, LLC Alec Tolle - 83 86 169
4 Capri du Buison Z Vlock Show Stables, LLC Abigail Russo - 83 83 166
5 Acido 7 Elizabeth Bailey Elizabeth Bailey - 84 81 165
6 Startin' Monday Donald Stewart  Melissa Deryn Foster - 86 75 161
7 Armada Gia Gulino Gia Gulino - 77 78 155
8 Callaway 217 Allison Postier Allison Postier - 78 72 150
Cooper Dean and Denver S on their way to a HITS Equitation Championship win.
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