OCALA, Fla.,--Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., on Coach, won the HITS $1 Million Grand Prix on March 25 in a five horse jump-off.
The Million Dollar Grand Prix was the final event on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, and it was Madden's second $1 Million Grand Prix win with HITS, as she also won in Saugerties, N. Y., in 2015.
"I've been lucky enough that this is my second win, It's amazing what he offers; all of the venues and shows he offers. I don't know how he does it all." Madden said, referring to HITS Owner and CEO Tom Struzzieri.
Madden on Coach was third to go in the jump-off, and shaving all the turns as close as possible, she went clean in 44.479, almost two seconds faster than Lillie Keenan aboard Super Sox,who was first to go in the jump-off and had been clean in 44.479.
CHARLIE JAYNE was last to go in the jump-off on Tou La Moon, and he made quick, tight turns, but couldn't catch Madden and Keenan, finishing in 47.092 to place third.
Jamie Barge was also clean but in a time of 48.461, putting her in fourth place, and Daniel Bluman on Sancha LS had three fences down to finish fifth
"I was really happy with how the horse went," said Madden. "I thought the course really suited him. I have high hopes for him. Everything fell into place really nicely and I had a great support team behind me."
Coach is a German-bred 10-year old-gelding owned by Abigail Wexner.
Keenan, at only 22 years old, already has an impressive list of accomplishments, and she first rode in the Million when she was only 16.
"The most profound part of the experience is that HITS offers an opportunity to riders that are maybe either young riders or haven't gotten to the point in their careers to have had the chance to jump at that level and also for that amount of prize money." Keenan said when asked what she enjoys most about showing at HITS. "For me that made a huge difference, jumping a Million Dollar Grand Prix at just sixteen."
"I thought the course was excellent today. There were a lot of options," Jayne said of the route set by to course designer Alan Wade.
"I want to thank HITS, Great American, and the City of Ocala," said Jayne. "I've come to this Million every year, and the crowd keeps getting bigger and bigger. This is the biggest crowd I've jumped for this year so far and the energy was really great."
Wade of Tipperary, Ireland, designing his second HITS Million course, built a track that the riders felt was challenging, but allowed for them to ride to their horses' strengths in both the first round and the jump-off, with spots to make up ground in turns or in long gallops.
"The riders who were clean were obviously thrilled, but lots of riders with just one or two rails came out of the ring very happy with their performance." said Wade, who was pleased with how the course challenged both the veteran and less experienced riders. "For the developing rider, the more they get to jump a course like this, the easier it will become for them."