Monday, February 1, 2010

Jill Henselwood the Canadian Olympian, on Road to Pfizer Million with Friday Grand Prix Win

Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood rode out of the Grand Prix Ring on Friday afternoon at HITS Thermal feeling like a million bucks!

The show-jumping legend captured the blue ribbon in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health when she rode Beau Soleil to the fastest double-clear round on International Course Designer Marina Azevedo’s track.

More importantly, Henselwood took the first step on the rode to the Pfizer Million as she took a leg up on the competition with the early triumph. “What an opportunity,” said Henselwood. “I always thought the $100,000 class in Culpeper was great but a $1 Million class, WOW!”

The 2010 HITS Desert Circuit will host 16 Qualifying Grand Prix classes for the historic Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, which will take place on September 12 in Saugerties, New York. To qualify, a rider (on any horse or horses) must compete in at least eight Open Jumper Classes of $25,000 or more at any combination of HITS shows in 2010.
“I will be at the Pfizer $1 Million class unless I am on the Canadian Team at that time,” said Henselwood. “I love Saugerties. I showed there a couple of years ago and it’s a gorgeous area. There has been a big buzz about the event in Canada and I know some of our top rides are planning to try to qualify.”

In Friday’s feature class 32 horse-and-rider pairs took their first swipe at qualifying for the Pfizer Million with seven duos advancing to the seven-obstacle jump-off. First to go in the jump-off was California’s Joie Gatlin riding her horse Twindoline. Gatlin and her horse made the dash for the cash stopping the clock in 31.161 to set the Great American Time to Beat with their fault-free effort. When the class was complete, they would finish in third place.

Peter Lutz was next to show in the jump-off riding Kelly Tropin’s Turbo R. They were fast and clean and crossed the timers in 31.471 to finish in fourth place.

The Grand Prix Ring at HITS Thermal welcomed Henslelwood and Bradon Construction’s Bottom Line next. The pair looked as if they would become the new leader but a late rail landed them in sixth place.

Fourth to show in the jump-off round was Peter Lutz on his second ride. This time he was in the irons aboard Femme Fatale 16 for owner CF Interests and the combination had two rails down and finished in eighth place.

Henselwood and Beau Soleil were next in the ring and they made it all the way home in 29.857 to take the lead and eventually grab the first-place check of $7,500 for Bradon Construction.

“What a fantastic horse,” said Henselwood. “She has incredible mileage on her already. I started showing her in Thermal last year and have only jumped her at venues with good footing and nice jumps. That’s why she is here.”

Sixth to challenge the jump-off tack was Saer Coulter and CF Interests Chalan. The up-and-coming young rider made it home clean in 32.228 to finish in fifth place.

Soehnke Theymann had the next chance to challenge Henselwood’s time aboard El Campeon’s All-Star. An early rail down landed them in seventh when the class was complete.

Henselwood’s countryman John Anderson had the final chance to climb to the top of the mountain. He was in the enviable last-to-go spot aboard Terrific. They were fast and clean coming home in 30.343 just behind Henselwood’s winning time, which landed them in second place.

As for Henselwood, she expects to be in the winner’s circle plenty of times during the circuit as she is loaded with five Grand Prix horses. “I have never had this kind of stock before,” said Henselwood. “I have a great crop of horses here and look forward to qualifying for the Pfizer Million.”

This week’s schedule for high-performance riders at HITS Thermal continues on Sunday when some of the top riders in the world vie for the lion’s share of the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

Stay tuned for more coverage from HITS Thermal, including coverage of Sunday’s $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.