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Rich Fellers and Coupis at HITS Thermal.

Rich Fellers and Coupis at HITS Thermal.

ESI photo

THERMAL — Week VII of the HITS Desert Circuit kicked off an exciting week of big money opportunities for jumpers, and Rich Fellers took home another win, this time riding a new horse, Coupis, to the $5,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. He took Leslie Nelson’s horse to a double clear round in a blistering 40.649 seconds. Canadian course designer Danny Foster had put riders to the test building a lengthy and technical course set at 1.45 meters.

The jump-off came down to who could master the tight roll back turns and gallop the fastest. Only five of nine entries who had made the jump-off went clean, and a pair of California riders, Mandy Porter of Encinitas and Susie Hutchison of Temecula, finished second and third, respectively.

Fellers galloped into the Grand Prix Stadium on his new mount with confidence. Performing all the inside turns and roll-backs without missing a beat, Fellers and Coupis sped through the timers with a clear round in 40.649, shaving six seconds off time established by the leader, Canadian Jaclyn Duff on EH All Or None. No one would catch them.

Going next, Hutchison and Brisbane, owned by Barbara Phillips of Woodside, kept the pedal to the metal, flying controlled through the jump-off with her eye on the prize, taking all possible inside turns and blazing across the finish markers with a clear round in a time of 44.070 seconds. Not fast enough to catch Fellers, the time would be good enough for a third-place finish.

Porter, the next rider, rode Little Valley Farms’ Ace of Hearts, and pursued every possible inside turn to take Fellers’s lead. Their “A” game was there, but they could not eclipse the top time, finishing second in 41.531.

Going last, Olympian Will Simpson rode Portena, owned by Antonio Maurer of Mexico. As this was a new mount for Simpson, he took his time in the jump-off opting for only two of the possible three inside turns. They performed the jump-off beautifully and crossed the timers in 46.618 seconds, taking home the fifth-place prize.

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