August 5, 2009 -- International show jumping star and Olympic Gold-medal winner Beezie Madden put her stamp on the HITS Saugerties Summer Circuit when she captured the blue in the $125,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix on August 2 aboard Onlight to conclude the summer show series at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, N.Y.
Madden had the ride for Team Onlight and collected $37,500 in first-place prize money for her triumph. The duo was the only pair to jump-clean on international course designer Bernardo Cabral's first-round course. However, they did have one time fault when they stopped the clocks just over the time allowed but were still able to grab the blue.
"It was a refreshing, challenging course," said Madden who is headed to Europe to compete. "I expected it to be hard because we were jumping for $125,000 in prize money."
Madden was just one of a handful of show jumping superstars to show in Sunday's big money grand prix. Fellow Olympian Leslie Burr Howard was the fastest rider with four faults and took the red ribbon aboard Jeans Glove Varnel. She was in the irons for Blenheim Farm and earned $27,500 in prize money.
Todd Minikus, who was an alternate on the 2000 Olympic Team, finished in third place aboard Pavarotti. The combination won the $25,000 HITS GrandPrix and the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix collecting $30,000 in prize money during HITS-on-the-Hudson V. With their yellow ribbon in Sunday's feature class, they can add another $16,250 to their winnings.
Minikus wasn't done there, as he was also fourth and fifth aboard Olinda and Alaska, respectively. When the class was complete, he collected a total of $27,750 in prize money for the day. "I tried jumping the planks at 12A and 12B three different ways, but they got me each time," he said about the most challenging combination in Cabral's course.
McLain Ward also had a great showing in Sunday's grand prix. Ward, who is a two-time gold-medal winner, was eighth aboard Rothchild and 10th riding Sagamore Farm's Phillipa.
When the class was complete, Madden, who returned to HITS Saugerties for the first time since 2004, had praise for the facility. "There have been a lot of improvements," she said. "One nice feature is the new tents (temporary stalls). They are very comfortable for the horses."
"I was very excited about the level of competition here this week," continued Madden. "That's one of the main reasons why we go to Europe a lot because we like to compete against the top riders."
"We were really impressed by the high-caliber riders competing in the $125,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix," said Kristin Ruff of Pfizer. Both Ruff and Rebecca Pitcher, Media Manager for Equine Resources International, commented on the difficulty of the course and how well the footing held despite the heavy rains that fell over the weekend. "We are very excited to be the title sponsor for this event," added Ruff.
The Champions were on display Sunday during the ever-popular Parade of Champions, prior to Sunday's $125,000 Strongid C2 X Grand Prix. Under the watchful eye of trainer Lisa Campi, several of the exhibitors from New Jersey's Renaissance Farm captured circuit awards.
Headlining the group was Jackie Millen's Artisan, ridden by BJ Erhardt. The Goshen, NY-native rode Artisan to his fourth consecutive circuit championship in the Tri-State Hunter Division at HITS Saugerties.
In the Adult Jumper High 31 and over, Lisbeth Hume was named Circuit Champion aboard her horse Argyle. Portofino Boy, ridden by Nancy Scott was Reserve Circuit Champions in the Schooling Hunter Division; October Dream, shown by Jessica Cecere was Reserve Circuit Champions in the Adult Maiden Equitation; and, in the Level 1 Jumpers, Melissa Lynch and Siempre were also named Reserve Circuit Champions.
"It's a pleasure to come to such a well-run horse show," said Campi. "My customers love coming here and that sets up success."