Edited Press Release
Saugerties, NY – August 5, 2022 – Top show jumping was on display during the final week of the HITS Saugerties Summer Series at HITS-on-the-Hudson during Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. Diego Perez Bilbao and Dialuna bested an eight-horse jump-off with a quick but precise effort that would land them a full second ahead of second place finishers David Blake and Keoki in the day’s highlight event.
“Dialuna is 9, but she’s a little green,” noted Bilbao. “She was jumping 1.40m in Europe, so I am riding her to develop her for Catherine Kubiak and give her a little bit of experience. She’s placed in her last three classes, and she’s going to jump on Sunday in the $100,000 [HITS Saugerties] Grand Prix. I think she’s going to become a really nice horse. She’s brave, she’s scopey and she’s careful. Right now, it’s just about giving her a little bit of experience that she doesn’t have yet.”
Ken Krome’s first-round course challenged riders with several technical elements, eventually yielding eight clears that advanced to the tiebreaker. During the jump-off, riders began with a careful vertical on a bending line followed by a rollback to a combination and another sharp turn before slicing across the field to the final two fences. The first three competitors each lowered the height of a fence, and only half were able to lay down a second clear effort. Katherine Anne Brewer was the first to do so with Casido 2, setting the Great American Time to Beat at 43.965 seconds. She was soon ousted from the top spot by Lauren Fischer and Hello Besi, who left all the rails intact in 40.96 seconds, which would hold up for third place.
The best performances of the day came from the last two riders. Bilbao returned with Dialuna and knew he had to lay on the gas to jump to the top of the leaderboard. With neat turns and a good slice to the penultimate fence, the duo galloped through the timers in 38.711 to go to the top of the leaderboard. David Blake and Keoki were the final pair to tackle the jump-off, and they were also speedy and clear, but their time of 39.997 would move into the second-place position, with Bilbao returning to accept the winning prize.
“I went at the end, and Teddy [Demetriou] told me there were not too many clears,” explained Bilbao. “Dialuna doesn’t have much experience in jump-offs, so I just tried to go as fast as I could, but smooth without really taking many risks. I think I did a nice turn to the last jumps on the bending line.”
Bilbao rides with Wolver Hollow Corp in Chester, New York, and enjoys being able to show close to home at HITS-on-the-Hudson. “It’s close to our stables, so that is always nice,” he commented. “HITS always has nice classes with big money in a big ring, and I feel comfortable here.”
On Thursday, the $10,000 HITS 1.40m Jumper Classic highlighted competition in the Grand Prix Ring. Laura Chapot and Gideon were the first pair to clear the jump-off track and break the timers in under 30 seconds, crossing the finish line at 29.450, which would hold up for third place. Amanda Derbyshire produced the next clear round aboard Wonder If, but their slower time of 29.800 would only be good enough for fourth place. Mimi Gochman followed Derbyshire’s effort with Happyfee and was able to blaze through the finish in the fastest time of the day, a fault-free 28.297. Chapot was the final rider to compete, returning with Out of Ireland, but she was just shy of Gochman, stopping the clock at 28.534 for second place.
Heather Caristo-Williams scored a one-two finish in Wednesday’s $5,000 HITS Open Welcome. She was the first to compete and immediately advanced to the tiebreaker with Celtic Hero BZ, where she produced a clear and fast effort. The only one able to better their time of 27.995 seconds was Caristo-Williams’ second mount Highlander MVF, earning her a one-two finish, while Katie Tyler and Enja 21 rounded out the top three with a double-clear performance of her own.