Saugerties, N.Y., June 9, 2005 -- Michael Walton of Valley Forge, Pa., riding Elu De La Hardiere, a 13-year-old French stallion, raced to a top place finish in the Rolex/USEF $20,000 Opening Match at HITS-on-the-Hudson June 8. Walton holds the initial lead in the three-leg $150,000 Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship.
The championship takes place over three days and the $20,000 opening match was an exciting speed class run under Table C specifications with faults converted into penalty seconds. The competition delivered some heart-stopping moments with riders going all out to earn valuable points and a chance at a top placing in the final standings.
Out of a field of 21, Walton emerged the clear victor with 58.46 seconds on the clock, the fastest time by over a second. He was one of seven riders to master the course with no knockdowns. Ten riders had four time faults. Three accumulated eight time faults, and one had 12 time faults.
"I was pleased with today's results," said course designer Steve Stephens. "We had just the right number with no rails down, and we will have a fairly tight group going into the second leg on Friday."
For his win, Walton has earned 22 points. His closest competitor, Jimmy Torano, riding Marcel, finished in 59.74 seconds and accumulated 20 points. Each successive rider based on time earned one point less.
The next leg of the championship will be the $30,000 Rolex/USEF Intermediate Match on June 10 at 3 p.m. The grand finale $100,000 class is June 12 at 1 p.m. Tickets for the final leg are $5. For more information and directions to the show, visit www.hitsshows.com/saugerties.