SAUGERTIES, NY (September 6, 2015): Saturday morning’s Grand Prix Stadium competition commenced with the eighth and final $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix of the 2015 HITS Saugerties Show season. A first time visitor to HITS-on-the-Hudson, Conor Swail of County Down, Ireland, rode Fortis Fortuna, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange, to a memorable finish and a blue ribbon souvenir to remember his time in Upstate New York.
Thirty-two competitors made their way through the round one course designed by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, Florida, and Swail, along with nine others, did so without disrupting the field-of-play for a spot in the jump-off round.
First to test the abbreviated course, Swail reemerged at the in-gate and was ready to set the standard for the round. That he did, as he sailed over the seven fences, seemingly in one smooth motion, going clear and crossing the timers in 35.829. The next four entries did not have the luck of the Irish on their side and all left the ring with downed rails in their path.
Kristen VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, owned by Bull Run Jumpers Five LLC, were next in the order and the next to go clear. With a time of 36.479, she wasn’t quick enough to snag the top spot, but did earn herself the second place position for the time being.
Clear rounds continued and seventh in the order, Kelli Cruciotti aboard Wallenberg, owned by Serenity Equestrian Adventures clocked in at 36.706 to place just behind VanderVeen. Julie Welles and North Run Inc.’s Virginia WZ followed, going clear in a time of 35.974 which was just enough to move up the leaderboard and find herself second to Swail.
The final clear round of the day went to Pablo Barrios riding Chaco 34. They whipped through the course chasing the clock but finished in 36.116, ultimately landing them in third place and bumping VanderVeen to fourth and Cruciotti to fifth.