Hunter Rings Take Center Stage at National Sunshine Series Week II

Thermal, CA (November 9, 2014): The Hunter Rings at HITS Desert Horse Park took center stage Friday afternoon during Week II of the National Sunshine Series. A fun and relaxed setting was ideal for those waiting to take flight in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.

Twenty-seven glided quietly over the course as competitors basked in the sun, enjoying moments of camaraderie about the trip they just finished. The course was set with intentions of giving riders a chance to open up the gallop and show off beautiful styles of jumping.

Owner Laura Strasburg, of Los Altos Hills, California, showcased a tall, leggy, chestnut gelding, Social Hour, who proved to be the most consistent, ultimately taking the win. Arriving just two weeks ago from Europe, Social Hour pleasantly surprised his new owner, and rider/trainer John Bragg, of Rancho Santa Fe, California. 

“We love his gentle, kind attitude and willingness to please us,” said Strasburg. “We are all just getting to know him and watching him is a delight—thank you John Bragg for finding me this amazing horse.”

“My gosh, he is a really fun horse, and this Devoucoux Hunter Prix was a change to get to know him,” said Bragg, who rode a 85 and 88 for a 173 total. “He is recently imported so I was not sure how he would handle this. He has adapted really well and 2015 is going to be a very nice year for him.”

Jenny Karazissis, of Calabasas, California, rode Tolstoy to an 87 and 85 for second. Third was John French, of Woodside, California, with scores of 86 and 83 aboard Small Talk. Agora Hills, California, native Michael Leon and Carrera came in with a 83 and 84 taking fourth, while Sophie Verges, of San Francisco, and Cusiena Q rounded out the top five with a 79.5 and 82. 

About Devoucoux
Devoucoux, maker of fine French saddles, is proud to be the title sponsor of each and every qualifying Hunter Prix leading up to the phenomenal Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. Devoucoux offers a wide range of saddles in many colors and sizes and matching accessories. Devoucoux craftsmen are devoted to creating beautiful products that reflect their obsession with quality and lovingly finished work. For more information on Devoucoux, visit

-Kathy Hobstetter for HITS, Inc.

(C) ESI Photography

John Bragg and Social Hour on their way to a $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix win, at National Sunshine Series Week II.  

$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix 

Place Horse Owner Rider Prize Rd. 1/2 Total
1 Social Hour Laura Strasburg John Bragg $1,500 85/88 173
2 Tolstoy Ashley Weiman Jenny Karazissis $1,000 87/85 172
3 Small Talk Catherine Runk John French $700 86/83 169
4 Carrera Pinon West, LLC Michael Leon $500 83/84 167
5 Cusiena Q Elmwood Farm Sophie Verges $400 79.5/82 161.5
6 Freedom Melhill Stables LLC Michael Leon $325 81/78 159
7 Once Ashley Kaplan Carleton Brooks $300 84/74.5 158.5
8 Casson Kathleen Waldorf Johanna Siefert $275 79/79 158


$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Spectator cheers carried through the show grounds, creating a buzz of excitement at the neighboring $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Twenty hopefuls took their chance at the blue ribbon and bragging rights, but Ainsley McGovern, of Carpinteria, California took home both.

Riding second, McGovern and her own Cirque du Soleil gained the top prize after a set of flowing trips placing her three points above the competition. The duo clutched the win with a 79 and 85, for a 164 total.

Halley Culver rode Quinero to second with scores of 83 and 78. Elli Yeager posted scores of 81 and 79 with Gruyere SM for third, while Gwen Mccaw and Prescott rode to 78 and 77 for fourth.  Rachel Penner and Sinclair received scores of 70 and 84 to cap the top five.

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

-Kathy Hobstetter for HITS, Inc.

(C) ESI Photography

Ainsley McGovern and Cirque du Soleil take home the blue ribbon at National Sunshine Series Week II $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. 

$1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Place Horse Owner Rider Prize Rd. 1/2 Total
1 Cirque du Soleil Ainsley McGovern Ainsley McGovern $450 79/85 164
2 Quinero Halley Culver Halley Culver $300 83/78 161
3 Gruyere SM Martha Howe Crowley Elli Yeager $200 81/79 160
4 Prescott Kevin Mc Carthy Gwen Mccaw $150 78/77 155
5 Sinclair Paseo Farms, LLC Rachel Penner $125 70/84 154
6 Saluut D 99 Taylor Cowles Nancy Moore $100 72/77 149
7 Believe in me Taylor Cowles Jerrie Calandra $100 85/63 148
8 Cocatani Naomi Houillon Naomi Houillon $75 67/80 147

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