Sunny Drescher and Sting Shine in HITS Equitation Championship at HITS Ocala

OCALA, Florida (March 21, 2015): It was a picturesque evening under the lights of the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium for the return of the HITS Equitation Championship. High school senior Sunny Drescher, of Hinesburg, Vermont, and her own Sting proved that determination and drive pay off, moving up five spots from the 2014 event, to take home the blue ribbon and top honors.

After ten weeks of qualifying opportunities throughout the HITS Ocala Winter Show Circuit, thirty-one juniors took their chance at the technical course, set at 3’6”, designed by Buddy Brown of Menlo Park, California.  Testing not only their competence in the ring, but also their efforts in the schooling area, competitors were judged by two sets of officials who evaluated their abilities as rising horsemen.

“At the riders meeting, Buddy Brown, gave us his expectations as riders. He told us what he wanted to see from us, which I thought was really helpful,” said Drescher. “I loved the course for Round One. I thought it rode really well and it was fun to ride. There were parts that were tricky but if you did it well, you were rewarded for that.”

Leading the class with a first round score of 184, Drescher went into Round Two feeling confident in her craft and she referenced her fifth place finish in the 2014 HITS Equitation Championship and knew she was ready for the challenge.

“My horse went so well in the first round. I was thrilled with how he stepped up to the plate in the ring. He was super under of the lights and I was hoping to find some momentum going into the second round,” said Drescher.

“Last year, in the first round, I had the best ride of my life, except I failed to trot the trot jump. [This year] I knew I was capable of putting in good rounds, I just needed to focus and make sure I got all the pieces done,” she continued. “Last year was a confidence booster, but it was also a motivator to work harder to get my testing better, so that I could come back and be better."

Although riders were not permitted to discuss strategy or technique with their trainers throughout the evening, they found support in one another and used that as fuel for success.

“All of the riders walk together, we watch each other go, and we all root for one another. It feels like a team sport because we’re all helping each other out,” said Drescher. “Even though we didn’t have trainers last night, I couldn’t have done it without Annie Dotoli and Aster Pieters’ support over the years.”

Ashton Alexander of Ocala, Florida, and Ullrich, owned by Don Stewart, went home with second place honors and scores of 181 and 174.5, for a total of 355.5. Catherine Apostol of Wycoff, New Jersey, and her own Courage followed, with scores of 172 and 172.5, for a combined total of 344.5 and third place. Fourth place went to Kennedy Knapic of Smithtown, New York, riding her own Zedulon, to scores of 171 and 172, totaling 343. Rounding out the top five was Rhian Murphy of Charlotte, Vermont, and his Finnigan with scores of 183 and 159, for a total of 342.

Competition continues in the Ocala Horse Properties today at 1pm with the $25,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix and on Monday, March 23 at 6pm with the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. For a complete schedule of events and information, visit

(C) ESI Photography
Sunny Drescher and Sting on their way to a HITS Equitation Championship win at HITS Ocala. 

HITS Equitation Championship

Place Horse Owner Rider Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Total
1 Sting Sunny Drescher Sunny Drescher 184 177.5 361.5
2 Ullrich Donald Stewart Ashton Alexander 181 174.5 355.5
3 Courage Catherine Apostol Catherine Apostol 172 172.5 344.5
4 Zedulon Kennedy Knapic Kennedy Knapic 171 172 343
5 Finnigan Rhian Murphy Rhian Murphy 183 159 342
6 Fitz Fairfield Farms LLC Meghan Flanagan 157 170 327
7 Crimea River Donald Stewart Carly Hoft 152 162 314
8 Crimson Z Fiona Steinmetz Fiona Steinmetz 161 150 311
9 Acado Nevergreen Farm LLC Claudia Payor 167 142 309
10 Fermoso Lisa Kerkorian Katie Eppinger 156 152 308
11 Eamon Dawson Equine Investments, LLC Shannon Hogue 148 88 236
12 Fedelio Liza Finsness Mackenzie Michaels 151.5 65 216.5














Alexa Bayko and Blue Shamrock Top the $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

OCALA, Florida (March 21, 2015): Alexa Bayko from Haverhill, Massachusetts, added another Hunter Prix win to the books after topping the leaderboard in the last $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix of the HITS Ocala Winter Show Circuit. This time, with trainer Monica Hunt’s Blue Shamrock, she gracefully sailed through the course besting the runner up by a full six points, with strong scores of 86 and 83 for a total of 169.

“The course rode really well. The last line in the first round was tricky - that was definitely the hardest part,” said Bayko after her win. “Blue Shamrock and I have a really good bond. He is my perfect ride.

“It was very nice to end with another win,” added Hunt. “The course was just hard enough with the bending lines and I thought Alexa rode it beautifully.”

The winner’s circle is familiar territory for Bayko, who won the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix at HITS Ocala  II and IV  – both on Anucci, also owned by Hunt. With her sights set on the Platinum Performance $250,000 Hunter Prix Final at the HITS Championship in Saugerties, New York, later this year, Bayko’s winter achievements have set a self-assured tone for the future.

“I’m really excited for the Hunter Prix Finals. After being so consistent here in Ocala, I’m feeling more confident going into the finals,” continued Bayko.

Consistency was the name of the game for Reily Rieker of Oviedo, Florida, who piloted his own Andricus to a first and second round score of 82 for a total of 164 and a second place finish.

Third place went to Kristen Sameth of Far Hills, New, riding her own Vandrin who produced scores of 77 and 80 for a total of 157. Mindy Whitman of Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, finished fourth aboard her own Herrold, with scores of 74 and 82, for a combined total of 156. With scores of 76 and 75 for a total 151, Katharine Page of Mt. Kisco, New York, and her Surreal took home fifth place. 

About Platinum Performance
Platinum Performance provides more than 10 supplements essential to your horse’s health and conditioning in just one scoop. Platinum Performance Equine addresses a horse's total body health from joint and hoof care to athletic performance and coat health, and is the 2014 sponsor of the $250,000 Hunter Prix Final and all qualifiers. For more information on Platinum Performance, visit

(C) ESI Photography

Alexa Bayko and Blue Shamrock top the $5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix at HITS Ocala.

$5,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix 

Place Horse Owner Rider Prize Rd. 1/2 Total
1 Blue Shamrock  Monica Hunt Alexa Bayko $1,500 86/83 169
2 Andricus  Reily Rieker Reily Rieker $1,000 82/82 164
3 Vandrin Kristen Sameth Kristen Sameth $700 77/80 157
4 Herrold  Mindy Whitman Mindy Whitman $500 74/82 156
5 Surreal Katharine Page Katharine Page $400 76/75 151
6 US Marshall Kiki Hopkins Rachael Hopkins $350 75/75 150
7 Socialite Sidney Jefferson Sidney Jefferson $300 81/66 147
8 Anucci  Jess Lusty Alexa Bayko $250 72/74 146
9 Wonder Street  Sophie Transou Sophie Transou - 73.5/70 143.5
10 Quick Silver Kylie Harvill Kylie Harvill - 73/66 139
11 Tryonite  Mr & Mrs Ernest M Oare Betty Oare - 72.5/35 107
12 Croft O.B.  Kristan Lassiter Kristan Lassiter - 78/- -












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 Mortgage Call, in Thermal, California, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix in Ocala, Florida, and Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix, 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 or follow us on Twitter.

Media should contact the HITS Media Team at 845.246.8833 or e-mail

 2015 Horse Show Dates

HITS Desert Circuit  |  Thermal, CA  |  January 13 - March 15, 2015
HITS Ocala Winter Circuit    |  Ocala, FL  |  January 13 - March 23, 2015
HITS Arizona Winter Circuit  |  Tucson, AZ  |  January 28 - March 8, 2015
HITS Culpeper Show Series  |  Culpeper, VA  |  April / July / August / September
HITS Saugerties Show Series  |  Saugerties, NY  |  May-June / July-August / September
HITS Championship  |  Saugerties, NY  |  September 2-6, 2015
HITS Marshall & Sterling Insurance National Finals  |  September 9-13, 2015
National Sunshine Series  |  October 28 - November 8, 2015