Davis, Barron, Slam-Dunk HITS 5*

By November 10, 2015
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Lucy Davis and Barron hurtle to a flashy first-place finish at the HITS $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix FEI CSI-5*. (Photo: ESI Photography)

Show jumping’s biggest stars took center stage at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California, for the $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix FEI CSI-5* on Sunday, Nov. 8. Stellar names filling out the go-list included three top 10 riders from the FEI world rankings – Kent Farrington, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward. But it was 23-year-old Stanford student Lucy Davis and Barron who showed them how it’s done.

Twenty-three attempted the round one course of 13 obstacles set by Alan Wade, of Tipperary, Ireland, and four went clear to proceed to the jump-off. First in the second round order were Paris Sellon and Adare, who sailed clear over the seven obstacles and clocked in at 39.860. “It’s hard to gauge what you need to do going first,” Sellon said. “My plan was to go double clear, to move efficiently, and set the pace. My horse moved exactly how I wanted her to and I was really happy.”

Jonathan McCrea and Special Lux were next to test their skills. McCrea upped the ante when he crossed the timers at a clear 39.730, moving to the top of the leaderboard. “I was slightly faster than Paris earlier in the week, so I was hoping that would work again,” McCrea said. “I knew the two behind me were going to be very quick. I got a little lucky at the last fence – but everybody needs good luck!”

Davis, who won the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix CSI-W2* in the same HITS Desert Horse Park stadium in February, was third in the order.  Speeding through the course as the clock raced, it was as if Barron had wings, flying to clear the fences to finish clean and one second faster than McCrea at 38.720. “There weren’t too many in the jump off so it was very important to go clear. I get overexcited sometimes but Barron saved me on the black oxer,” Davis said. “He’s naturally really fast, so that was helpful for us today.”

Davis heaped credit on her four-legged partner. “He’s been with me for three years and has progressed a lot. Our first show was at HITS a couple of winters ago. Every time [we] come back I’m reminded how far he has come.”

The final trip of the day was Andres Rodriguez and SF Ariantha. They were fine for the first five fences, but trouble in the combination resulted in two rails, eight faults and a finish of fourth in 38.920.

Sunday represented the second of five FEI classes offered by HITS in the 2015/2016 season. There is another 5* slated for Thermal in February, once again reinforcing the company’s commitment to high-performance equestrian competition in the United States.

“This is our investment in show jumping,” HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri said. “If we, as an industry, are going to have a thriving sport 10 years from now, it’s the show promoters’ responsibility to make the events as good as they can, to entice the situation, and to give our young riders an incentive to continue to aspire for greatness, which will ultimately promote and grow the sport.”

HITS’ upcoming FEI classes include  – three 5* grand prix, a Longines World Cup Qualifier and and a Nations Cup.  The next HITS FEI CSI-5* event will take place Desert Circuit III, February 2-7, on the HITS Thermal Desert Circuit in Thermal, CA.

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