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    Josephina nips Hap in his bid for 100

    Nor Lantzman and Chello Z top international field to take HITS $30K SmartPak GP

    Special to the Horsetrader - March 15th, 2012 - Show & Event News

    THERMAL — Top riders from 10 countries provided an international flair to the $30,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on March 4, when Brazil’s Marina Azevedo designed a course for 59 starters including Americans and visitors from Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Ireland, and Brazil.

    It was also a potentially pivotal moment for one of the Desert Circuit’s most beloved riders, competing on one of the Desert Circuit’s most beloved horses – Hap Hansen aboard Archie Bunker, owned by Linda Smith. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hansen scored his 99th career Grand Prix victory and ever since, everyone that has stepped foot on the show grounds in Thermal is hoping that he’ll pick up his 100th before the circuit comes to an end.

    Six riders went clear in the first round before Hansen and Archie Bunker entered the ring, but it was their clear round that really brought the show grounds to its knees as a thunderous applause erupted from what felt like every set of hands in the Coachella Valley.

    “The excitement level kept increasing and people were telling me that you could hear the crowd cheer back at barns,” said Hansen. “It seemed like everyone at the show grounds came up to the ring to watch the jump-off. The show came to a halt.”

    Right after Hansen and Archie Bunker’s fault-free first round ride, Josephina Nor Lantzman rode her own Chello Z to join them in the jump-off.

    “I was so happy to go after Hap in the first round and get to watch him,” said Lantzman. “He is the master and with him going after his 100th victory, I think it’s good for the sport.”

    When the first round was over, 10 pairs prepared to face off in Azevedo’s short course.

    In the jump-off, Mexico’s Enrique Gonzalez aboard his own Criptonite wasted little time establishing the Great American Time to Beat at 43.88 seconds when he came home clear.

    Six rounds later, it was time for Hansen and Archie Bunker’s much anticipated jump-off, and the crowd was on its feet as they entered the ring. They were fast and clean and gave the crowd just what they were looking for with a clear round in 42.98 seconds to take over the top spot with just three rounds left.

    “It was pretty cool to have everybody standing on their feet cheering for me,” said Hansen. “It’s such a good feeling to have your friends behind you.”

    As Hansen put his 100 wins well within reach, he had the whole show behind him.

    “I thought he had it,” said fellow Grand Prix rider Helen McNaught. “I really was crying when he went double clear.”

    With her eyes set on the earning a spot in the 2016 Olympics, Lantzman entered the ring with her own Chello Z. After a magnificent round, she took over the top spot when she crossed the timers in 41.55 seconds to take the lead and eventually win the class. Hansen and Archie Bunker finished second in the largest Grand Prix to date during the 2012 HITS Desert Circuit.

    At the end of the class, Lane Clarke of Laguna Nigel, California finished third aboard Mickey Hayden’s McLord’s First John, followed by Keri Potter of Del Mar, California and the Dotson Family’s Rockford I in fourth place, and Gonzalez and Criptonite in fifth.

    After the class, HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri commented on the success of the season in Thermal as the Circuit heads into its final week.

    “To see numbers like this in the second-to-last week of a long circuit and the strong level of participation in our special classes really speaks volumes to the wide assortment of classes we offer and the broad-ranging appeal of this circuit. For sure, this momentum will be what we build upon for not only the final week of the circuit, but also for 2013 and beyond. The Desert Circuit is without a doubt the stamp of quality that we seek for the entire HITS brand.”

    QUICK HITS: It was standing room only in the indoor arena at HITS Thermal on Saturday, March 3, as Karl Cook of Woodside and Signe Ostby’s Uno de Laubry came out on top in the final FEI World Cup Grand Prix of the 2012 Winter Circuit. Cook has been chasing a win in the indoor arena at HITS Thermal for several weeks and found it in the $53,000 Chartis Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health…

    Nick Haness of San Clemente, continued his hot streak March 4 at HITS Thermal when he piloted Carolyn Mittler’s Cristiano to the blue in the popular $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix that featured more than 50 horse-and-rider combinations in the first round. A week earlier, Haness rode three mounts to top six finishes in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix as he proved that he is one of the top contenders for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final that will take place at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York this fall.

    $30,000 SmartPak Grand Prix
    March 4, 2012 / Thermal, Calif.

    Top 10
    Place/ Horse/ Owner/ Rider/ Earnings/ JO Time
    1 Chello Z Josephina/ Nor Stables/ Josephina Nor Lantzman/ $9,000/ 41.555
    2 Archie Bunker/ Linda Smith/ Hap Hansen/ $6,600/ 42.985
    3 McLord’s First/ John Mickey Hayden/ Lane Clarke/ $3,900/ 43.128
    4 Rockford I/ The Dotson Family/ Keri Potter/ $2,400/ 43.321
    5 Criptonite/ Enrique Gonzalez/ Enrique Gonzalez/ $1,800/ 43.882
    6 Unlimited/ Rebeca Matalon/ Gabriella Mizrachi $1,500/ 44.927
    7 Obelix 148/ Enrique Gonzalez/ Enrique Gonzalez $1,200/ 43.777
    8 Asb Conquistador/ Signe Ostby/ Karl Cook $900/ 44.900
    9 Avensis/ Elizabeth Gingras/ Elizabeth Gingras/ $900/ 45.672
    10 Kaskaya/ Leone Equestrians, Inc./ Jill Humphrey/ $600/ 51.026

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