Alexander Alston and Undercover. Photo by ESI Photography

International competition during the 2024 HITS-on-the-Hudson Jumper Special at HITS Hudson Valley in Saugerties, New York, concluded on Sunday, June 23, with the CSI1* Gold, Bronze, and Silver Finals. In the $10,000 CSI1* Gold Final 1.35m, Alexander Alston (USA) claimed the win aboard Undercover, while Lisa Bertoline (USA) was victorious in the $10,000 CSI1* Silver Final 1.25m with Elliot de Talma, and Juan Mejia (COL) came out on top with Lieberthina van’t Ruytershof in the $10,000 CSI1* Bronze Final 1.15m. 

From the  28 duos in the $10,000 CSI1* Gold Final 1.35m, 14 managed to produce a clear first round to advance to the jump-off. Of those 14, ten combinations repeated their initial success with a fault-free performance over the short course. Alston and Undercover broke through the timers in 34.89 seconds, earning the blue-ribbon honors. 

“The course was great; there were a lot of different options, but it was still straightforward,” noted Alston. “Undercover is really fast and super careful, so it’s a good combination. In the jump-off, I think the second to the third jump we were pretty slick, but he’s pretty quick on his feet anyway.” 

“Matt” has been Alston’s mount for a little more than a year now. Over that time, the two have formed a strong partnership, which played a crucial role in their victory. 

“He’s a character,” shared Alston of the 12-year-old Anglo European gelding by Luidam owned by North Run. “He’s a show horse for sure. He always rises to the occasion. He has such a big personality. Often times, he will buck or leap into the air or something exciting. He’s awesome. He’s quite good at everything, so I don’t normally need to worry about anything specific other than letting him know where he’s going.”

Alston, who rides with the team at North Run Farm in Warren, Vermont, made his return to the HITS Hudson Valley venue one to remember. 

“The HITS team has done an amazing job,” he expressed. “It’s like a different venue here. It’s a game changer, for sure, to have this facility so close to our summer home base, and in this condition, it looks amazing.”

Lautaro Peña (ARG) piloted Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC’s Eclat du Cerisier, a 10-year-old Selle Français gelding (Kannan x Loyalty du Cerisier), to a time of 35.28 for second place. Completing the top three was Emily Dehoff (USA) and Viper Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Vigo d Arsouilles STX x Grannus) owned by The Sporty Game LLC. They stopped the clock in 35.89 seconds for third place.

Lisa Bertoline and Elliot de Talma. Photo by ESI Photography

In the $10,000 CSI1* Silver Final 1.25m, Lisa Bertoline (USA) and Elliot de Talma secured the top position out of a competitive group of riders. They outperformed five other skilled competitors in the jump-off, navigating the course flawlessly and achieving an impressive finishing time of 31.88 seconds.

Elliot de Talma, a 10-year-old Selle Français gelding (Unella de Toscane x Quidam de Revel) owned by The E.O.F Group LLC,  has been Bertoline’s mount for more than two years. After a quiet winter at home, the pair is now kicking off their summer competition season on a high note. 

“It has been great to hop back on, and he’s always game so we just continue having fun,” said Bertoline. “He’s very awesome. I never have to worry about a thing with him. He just makes it so fun. He’s really special.”

Having spent nearly 25 summers showing at HITS Hudson Valley, Bertoline has developed a deep connection with the venue  and was thrilled to participate in the prestigious Jumper Special event.

“I love all the memories I have here,” she expressed. “I just love the whole spirit of the show. This event was so special because people that do the heights that I do normally don’t have a lot of opportunity in the U.S. to get to go FEI. The jog was so much fun! I really appreciate the way they run this show. It was incredible and really made everyone feel welcome.”  

Racing through the timers just off the pace of Bertoline in 32.31 seconds was Maddie Tosh (USA) and Pirlo, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Thunder vd Zuuthoeve owned by Oakland Ventures LLC. Alyce Rosenberg (USA) and her own mount Embassador JT Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Rebel I Z)  completed the top three in 36.03 seconds

Juan Mejia and Lieberthina van’t Ruytershof. Photo by ESI Photography

In the $10,000 CSI1* Bronze Final 1.15m, Juan Mejia (COL) led the victory gallop aboard Lieberthina van’t Ruytershof. The 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Plot Blue x Bamako De Muze) owned by Mejia’s son, Juan Pablo Mejia, has been in the family for five years. 

“She is a magnificent mare,” praised Juan Mejia. “She has an extremely forgiving personality and she takes care of me.”

The duo was one of nine combinations to return for the jump-off and ran away with the win in a time of 30.61 seconds.

“I wanted to be sure I did the inside turns and tried to be as efficient as possible from the first jump to the last jump,” commented Juan Mejia of his jump-off strategy. “Then at the end, I could just let her go.”

Kyle Olson (USA) and his own, Libelle de Muze, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Elvis Ter Putte x Bemako de Muze), were the second-place finishers. A time of 30.71 seconds put them just 0.09 seconds behind Juan Mejia. Kiana Mitchell (USA) and Kassidy O, a nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Indoctro owned by Equines LLC, completed the top three with a time of 32.29 seconds. 

Layla Kurbanov and Sally 721. Photo by ESI Photography

The $10,000 Horseflight 1.35m Jumper Classic featured in The Ring, where Layla Kurbanov and Sally 721 finished in first. She piloted her 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Stanley x For Edition) to a winning jump-off time of 42.751 seconds. Vasco Flores and Chris B, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Christian 25 x Racord) owned by Palmer Divide Ranch, crossed the timers in 44.234 seconds, giving them the red ribbon. Kurbanov’s second ride rounded out the top three. After winning the $5,000 STX Open Speed earlier in the week, the pair stopped the clock in 44.977 seconds for a third-place finish this time around. 

Layla Kurbanov stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

The competition heats up again on Wednesday, June 26, as HITS-on-the-Hudson kicks off its second week of June with featured classes, such as the $50,000 FarmVet Grand Prix and the $25,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic.