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Special ‘K’

Karazissis can't be denied in $10,000 Hunter Prix win as circuit hits the mid-point

Special to the Horsetrader - February 21st, 2013 - Show & Event News, Uncategorized

THERMAL — It was a rewarding day for hunter riders in Thermal, as Desert Circuit III wound to a close with two big-money competitions on Sunday, which marked the conclusion of the first half of the 2013 HITS Desert Circuit.

Calabasas-based Jenny Karazissis of Far West Farms went out with a bang and rode to blue in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix on owner Kelly Straeter’s Undeniable, breaking the Sonoma Valley Stables juggernaut that saw Hope Glynn win the Devoucoux Hunter Prix during Desert Circuit I and II.

This week, Glynn, of Penngrove, California came in second, riding Shelly Gambardella’s SVS Caremunde Z against a field of 45 entries over a course designed by Rian Beals. They totaled a score of 174. Third place went to John Bragg of Bridgeport Farms out of Ranch Santa Fe, California riding Sarah Mullins’ Balmiro to a score of 170.75. Rounding out the top five was Sophie Simpson aboard Elizabeth Gabler’s Soldier in fourth and Glynn again, this time with Helen McEvoy’s Campari in fifth.

Of Undeniable, who earned an overall score of 176, Karazissis said, “He was champion in the First Year Green Hunters this week, so we decided, kind of spontaneously, to give the prix a shot and he was just wonderful. He’s an exceptional horse – comfortable, athletic, beautiful to look at and a beautiful mover.”

Undeniable is a relatively new ride for Karazissis, who was in the saddle for Mary Gatti and Rainbow Canyon Ranch. The Far West Farms rider said she is very proud of the horse’s performance in its first year doing 3’6” classes. “We’d competed in the Outside Course in the First Year Green classes and he was really brave.” she said. “And because this week the hunter prix was Sunday instead of Friday, he had a couple of days off, so the timing was right.”

Karazissis also enjoyed the pleasure of seeing her student, Bella Hadid, win the week’s title as well as the Mid-Circuit Championship in the Equitation 16-17 division. “It’s been a great week, and now we’re on a roll and can’t wait to get back for Weeks IV through VII,” Karazissis said.

Hunters spent much of the first half of the circuit trying to qualify for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final and HITS $250,000 Hunter Prix Final taking place the weekend of September 6-8 at HITS-On-The-Hudson in Saugerties, New York, while also looking forward to the more immediate excitement of the $50,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge on March 15-16.

Earlier in the day, Bragg’s student Erika Scherer, an amateur rider based in Rancho Santa Fe, California topped the field of 23 in the $5,000 HITS Hunter Prix riding Kendra Arnold’s Godspeed.

“I had been stuck in the first few weeks and really needed to win one,” said Scherer, who received a score of 86 in the first round and 81 in the second, for a total score of 167.

The course was the same as for the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, with the jumps lowered just a bit. Scherer said elatedly of Godspeed, who she has been leasing for the past year, “I can always count on him to give me 100%. He is the love of my life. He comes before my boyfriend and anybody else!”

Santa Barbara’s Beth Rochlitzer and Fine Design, owned by Shelley Smith, came in second with a total score of 166.5, while Sandra Bierman, of Beverly Hills, riding Kashmere Farms LLC’s Insignia was third, with a total of 165. Fourth went to Ashley Cedillos and Allison Taylor Reynolds’ Gettysburg, while Brooke Sassa was fifth on Tracy Baer’s Widget.

Scherer had been building to the point where she could successfully compete Godspeed, whose barn name is “Snoopy,” on the Outside Course.

“The first week he was a little bit nervous on that course. It can be a bit scary for the horses, riding up on that bank. We get to hack there in the mornings, but it’s a little different when they’re out there alone.” By Desert Circuit II, Godspeed was getting his bearings on the Outside Course, and by DC III, “He seemed really comfortable. He was such a superstar,” added Scherer.

From a rider’s perspective, Scherer couldn’t say enough good things about the excitement of the Outside Course. “I love it! It’s so much fun! Growing up, I spent a lot of time riding in Virginia on foxhunt trails, so I’m really happy with anything that simulates that experience. It makes things less predictable to have this ring, and I’m really glad HITS built it,” she said.

Scherer came in third on Serantino at the HITS $250,000 Hunter Prix Final in 2012 with Serantino, owned by Starview Farms, Inc., and she looks forward to qualifying this year and making the trip east. Scherer and Serantino were seventh in Sunday’s $5,000 HITS Hunter Prix.

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