Josephine de Pfyffer and Luron S Z. Photo by ESI Photography

White pants filled the grounds of HITS Hudson Valley in Saugerties, New York, on Sunday, June 9, as riders and horses prepared for a day filled with jumper classics. Josephine de Pfyffer and Luron S Z scored the biggest prize of the day with a win in the $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic. 

From the starting field of 22 horse-and-rider combinations, seven produced a clear effort across the first-round course to advance to the jump-off. Of those seven, only three duos replicated their success with a fault-free performance over the short course. It was de Pfyffer and Luron S Z that raced through the timers in an unbeatable 35.180 seconds for the win. 

“‘Luron’ jumps so fast and he’s so careful,” said de Pfyffer. “In the ring, he has tons and tons of energy and loves to fly at the jumps. He only has one speed, which is very fast. If I can get him in between the jumps and leave it up, he’s hard to beat.”

Diego Perez Bilbao and Dialuna. Photo by ESI Photography

Luron has been the trusted mount of de Pfyffer for more than three years. While the pair has enjoyed a lot of success together, it is the enthusiasm for the job that sets the 17-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Lord Z x Landetto) apart.

“He’s so fun to ride, and he loves doing this probably more than I do,” enthused de Pfyffer. “He’s just the best horse in the whole world. At home, he likes attention and he loves treats. He likes to have his head out the stall with his ears forward and wants people to come say ‘Hi.’”

No stranger to HITS Hudson Valley, de Pfyffer is looking forward to spending most of the summer season showing in Saugerties.

Caitlin Boyle and Prianti van het Mikkenhof. Photo by ESI Photography

“It’s a really great show,” she expressed. “I love it because it’s close to home. The Grand Prix Stadium is nice and big and feels like a real stadium environment.” 

Following de Pfyffer was Spanish rider Diego Perez Bilbao and Dialuna, a 12-year-old Holsteiner mare (Diarado x Quidam’s Rubin) owned by Over Fences Farm LLC. Fresh off their win in the $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic the previous week, this time the pair settled for second place with a jump-off time of 36.306 seconds. 

Josephine de Pfyffer stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

Rounding out the top three was Caitlin Boyle and Prianti van het Mikkenhof, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Thunder vd Zuuthoeve x Lambada van Berkenbroeck)owned by Beyaert Farm, Inc. Boyle and Prianti Van Het Mikkenhof finished the short course just shy of the mark set by Bilbao with a time of 36.388 seconds.

Concluding competition in the Douglas Elliman Stadium during week three of HITS-on-the-Hudson was the $10,000 The League Jr/Am 1.15m Jumper Classic, where Mark Leone Jr. and Capito Z emerged victorious. The pair took the lead from the start of the class with a jump-off time of 43.162 seconds and ultimately could not be caught. 

Mark Leone Jr. stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

Capito Z is a new mount for Mark Leone Jr. but not such an unfamiliar one. The 16-year-old Zangershide gelding (Capitos x Burggraaf) owned by Frank Ferguson was previously campaigned through the five-star level by Leone’s uncle, U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Peter Leone. Now taking over the ride with just four weeks of experience together, it was Mark Leone Jr. that managed to beat a large competitive group of 35 horse-and-rider combinations for the top prize. 

“He’s a cool horse,” shared Mark Leone Jr., who trains with his father, top U.S. rider Mark Leone, at their family’s Ri-Arm Farm in Oakland, New Jersey. “My plan was just to go fast and see what I could do. He has a big stride so I knew I could leave out numbers. He’s a little slower in the turns, but his stride is huge so he can make up time.” 

Mark Leone Jr. and Capito Z. Photo by ESI Photography

While his partnership with Capito Z might still be developing, the HITS Hudson Valley  venue is one  Mark Leone Jr. knows very well. In fact, he has been attending the show his whole life. 

“I love it here,” he expressed. “It’s close to home and what they have done with the facility is awesome. All the new improvements are making it that much more enjoyable to be here. It’s a great show.”

Emily Clee and S&L Valentino de Nine Z. Photo by ESI Photography

Finishing just behind Leone was Kendall Casaccio and her own Indigo ES, an 11-year-old KWPN mare (Dantos x Nabab de Reve). They were just off the winning pace with a time of 44.025 seconds, placing them in second. Charlotte Hilfers and Girl of Wildwood, her own 12-year-old Selle Français mare by Numero Uno, completed the top three in 44.998 seconds. 

Sunday’s jumper classic competition also featured the $5,000 NAL Jr/Am 1.35m/1.45m Jumper Classic. Emily Clee, the owner and rider of S & L Valentino de Nine Z, finished in first. She piloted the 11-year-old Zangershide gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Sandro Z) to a winning jump-off time of 42.663 seconds. 

Emily Clee stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

The HITS-on-the-Hudson series returns with the start of the HITS-on-the-Hudson Jumper Special on June 19.