The 2019 HITS Championship Ends on a High Note! :: HITS


The 2019 HITS Championship Ends on a High Note!

In addition to the Saugerties $500,000 Grand Prix FEI CSI5*, the HITS Championship is host to four more hunter and jumper finals offering unprecedented prize money. Riders traveled from near and far for the richest weekend in show jumping and the chance to take home a Champion title.
Stal Hendrix Green Hunter Futurity
The final rounds of the Stal Hendrix Green Hunter Futurity took place in the Hunter Stadium Saturday afternoon. With a guaranteed purse of $25,000, plus all Stal Hendrix Nomination fees added back, the total prize money awarded in this year's final was $46,650. Under the unique three-day format of all the HITS Championship Hunter Finals, the top 25 horses after round one and two return for the third round with a clean slate, and the top four then return for a fourth round with scores added to determine the winner.

The top four who returned for the final round were Tracy Fenney, Cassandra Kahle, and Nick Haness with two mounts in the final four, and came out on top with a one-two finish.

Haness of Temecula, California rides for West Coast Equine Partners LLC and joined the Winner's Circle aboard CROWD PLEASER to take home the victory with scores of 89 and 91 in the final two rounds on Saturday totaling 180 for the Champion title. "He [CROWD PLEASER] is truly a competitor and knows when it's time to shine," said Haness, pleased with his results. "He gave me every bit of his effort tonight in the final two rounds and I think he just got better with each ride."

Haness also accepted the Reserve Champion title aboard REESE'S, earning scores of 87.5 and 86 for a combined score of 173.5. "They were both great this week," said Haness. "We're a long way from home (California), so for them to be here and for it to go well was really nice. We love the prize money and we had the goal of doing well in the finals with both horses. It's a nice facility, the jumps were beautiful all weekend, and the weather was great for us."

Cassandra Kahle & GIVENCHY were in second place after the third round with a score of 88. Their score of 84 in the final round gave them a total of 172 and put them in third place overall. Returning to the fourth round in the lead with a score of 92 was Tracy Fenney & MTM STYLE. Luck was not on their side, however, as a rail at the last fence in the final round would give this team a score of 45 for a 137 overall and the white ribbon.
Platinum Performance $100,000 Hunter Prix Final
The Top 25 Junior and Amateur riders were welcomed to the Wilmington Trust Grand Prix Stadium on Sunday morning for the final rounds of the Platinum Performance $100,000 Hunter Prix Final. Meghan Knapic, Tess Lee, Lena Rae Reeb, and Laura Owens had the high scores in Round Three and were set to return for the fourth round of competition.

Leading the way after the third round was Meghan Knapic and ENCORE, earning a score of 269.75 from three panels of judges. Knapic and ENCORE are a new partnership in the show ring, having been together just since the start of the summer. "Jenna [Weinfurt] let me show him over the summer and we came here [to HITS Saugerties] several times for the Platinum Performance [Hunter Prix] and he was perfect," said Kanpic. "I went back to school and got a call from Jenna and she asked me if I wanted to come back for the Championship and I said yes!"

Knapic entered the ring with confidence for the final round and a commanding score of 270  totaled a 539.75 and the victory. "It means so much to me [to win] because all summer we joked around about needing to have 'that round' in the Championship and for it to work out in all four rounds in just amazing," said Knapic. "I am so happy and it means so much since this is my last show on him. I will definitely be back next year; I come to HITS every summer and really enjoy it!"

Tess Lee and EEA TIMBERLAND scored a 263 in the third round and 260 in the fourth round for a total of 523 and the Reserve Champion title. Third and fourth were seperated by just one point with Lena Rae Reeb and CALL ME scoring 262 and 234 to total 796 for third place, and Laura Owens and EURYTHMIC scoring 261 and 214 for an overall total of 475.
Diamond Mills $250,000 Hunter Prix Final
The stakes increased on Sunday for the Diamond Mills $250,000 Hunter Prix Final as the top 25 returned for the third round and then the leading four competed for the Champion title. The four professional riders that advanced to the fourth round included Jennifer Jones, Laena Romond, Cassandra Kahle, and Hannah Isop. 

Jones and VIRGO DC had been at the top of rounds one and two, and it was no surprise that they were on top again. With huge scores of 283 and 280, they were nearly untouchable. "He [VIRGO DC] just became a hunter this year, right here in Saugerties in the spring. We came to all the shows this season and have done very well so he was the obvious choice for this class," said Jones. With multiple top placings in the Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson this summer, the prestigious Diamond Mills Final was a great way to end a spectacular season. "It's incredible to win a class [of this caliber], probably even more than [USHJA] Derby Finals. It's the most prize money you can have in a hunter class," said Jones. "It's a beautiful venue and the horse's jump great here. We got to show in there [the Wilmington Trust Stadium] a little bit this summer, but it's nice to show right before the big Grand Prix and have lots of spectators come out and watch, so it's really something special."

Taking home the second place ribbon was Laena Romond and UPTOWN with scores of 265 and 249 for a 514 total. Following up her third place finish in the Stal Hendrix Green Hunter Futurity was Cassandra Kahle aboard MONDAY BALOUS, earning another yellow ribbon with scores of 268.75 and 235 for a cumulative score of 503.75. Hannah Isop and BELIEVE took home fourth place with scores of 262 and 229 for a total of 491.

Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS, was pleased with the results from the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Finals. "It's a show manager's dream. These three young ladies have shown with us all year. That's the idea of this class," he commented. Struzzieri also owns Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern, the sponsor of the Finals at the HITS Championship. "When [Cassandra Kahle] talks about Emil [Spadone] selling all those horses, we like to think that is a product of coming to the horse shows here to be able to do that," he continued. "That is what it is all about for some of the professionals here, so this is a perfect fit for us."
Black Barn Jr//A-O/Am $100,000 Jumper Prix
As the Hunter Prix Finals came to a wrap on Sunday, the Wilmington Trust Grand Prix Stadium transformed back to a jumper's paradise. Junior and amateur riders competed for top honors in the Black Barn Jr/A-O/Am Jumper Prix. Three riders went clear in both the first and second round of competition and jumped-off for the title. 

Going first in the jump-off and setting the time to beat was Dannie Murphy and ISABEAU DE LAUBRY in a time of 51.197. Though she did not have the fastest time, her precise track secured the Champion title, as she was the only rider to jump-off without faults.

Capturing the second place ribbon was Catherine Wachtell and COVERBOY, who had the time in 49.450, but a rail early on kept them out of the lead. Rounding out the top three was Madison Rauschenbach and GILLETTE B in a time of 49.767. An unlucky rail at the last fence would lead to a third place finish.
Champions have been crowned at the HITS Championship. We can't wait to see you back at HITS Saugerties in 2020! For all the results click here. Be sure to stay up to date with all the HITS Happenings at
Photography courtesy of ESI Photography
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