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Rich Fellers and Flexible win their third grand prix at HITS

FROM HORSETRADER STAFF REPORTS - March 3rd, 2011 - Cover Story, Show & Event News
March 3 cover

March 3 cover

THERMAL — Rich Fellers of Wilsonville, Ore., and Flexible, owned by Harry and Mollie Chapman, continued to prove why they are the hottest horse-and-rider combination at the 2011 HITS Desert Circuit when they topped the field in the $31,000 Strongid C 2X Welcome Classic, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at HITS Desert Horse Park Feb 24.

The triumph was the third of the circuit for the decorated duo, as they were the best out of the 39 starters to challenge International Course Designer Marina Azevedo’s (Sao Paulo, Brazil) first round course, and the 13 teams that advanced to the jump-off.

“This horse continues to amaze me,” said Fellers. “I can’t express how thankful I am to have such a great horse to ride.”

In 2008, Fellers and Flexible won three of the four FEI World Cup Qualifiers held at HITS Thermal which fueled their journey to the Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Sweden where they placed second.

Rich Fellers and Flexible have enjoyed success indoors at the 2011 HITS Desert Circuit.

Flying Horse photo

Rich Fellers and Flexible have enjoyed success indoors at the 2011 HITS Desert Circuit.

“Flexible loves to show indoors and he proved that again tonight,” added Fellers.

Two trips into the first round, it was Canadian Olympian John Pearce (Bermuda Dunes) that got the party started posting the first clear effort aboard Forest View Farm’s Chianto. Just two trips later it was Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes (Carlsbad) riding his own Tomba that ensured the crowd there would be a jump-off with international flavor.

At the end of the first round, 13 talented horse-and-rider teams representing six different nations advanced to Azevedo’s fast track as the crowd in the indoor arena settled in for what was sure to be an exciting horse race over fences.

“I thought 13 clear was a good number for the Thursday Grand Prix,” said Azevedo. “It’s a welcome class and a chance for me to see how the horses are jumping. On Saturday night for the FEI World Cup Qualifier it will be more challenging.”

Bob Drennen presents Rich Fellers with his second of three grand prix trophies.

Bob Drennen presents Rich Fellers with his second of three grand prix trophies.

It would take three trips before the jump-off produced its first clear round. Kate Levy (Wellington, Fla.) was the first of six teams to go double clear when she set The Great American Time to Beat aboard her own Lirving de Volsin in 34.96 seconds. When the class was complete, they landed in sixth place.

“I wanted to come out and kill two birds with one stone,” said Levy. “I came out to get a jump start on qualifying for the Pfizer Million and show in the two FEI World Cup Qualifiers that are remaining out here and, hopefully, earn a spot on the team.”

The leading time lasted just one round thanks to Team Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Westlake Village) who rode Richard Michaels’ Kismet 50. They posted a clear round in 33.97 seconds to take the lead; however, at the end of the class they finished in fifth place.

Mark Watring (Thousand Oaks) and Horseworks Etc.’s Green Sleeps Vioco pulled the hat trick and made it three clear rounds in a row when they made it home without dropping any rails in 33.31seconds to push their way into the lead. When all was said and done, they placed fourth in the class.

The excitement continued as Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano were the next team to show and posted the fourth clear trip in a row, crossing the timers in 33.24 seconds to move to the top of the leader board. They placed third at the conclusion of the class.
It would take two more rounds before another horse-and-rider team would make it home clear. This time it was Canadian Olympian John Anderson aboard Foxdale Farm’s Terrific. They were fast and clear coming home in 33.07 seconds to take the lead with just four trips left. At the end of the class, they had to settle for second place and $6,820 in prize money.

After another three rounds, Anderson and Terrific held onto the lead with just one trip remaining in the jump-off. Fellers and Flexible saved the best for last when they made the dash for the cash in 31.86 seconds to capture the blue ribbon, as the entire crowd in the indoor arena came to their feet for a loud and boisterous standing ovation.

MORE RESULTS: See website http://www.hitsshows.com

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