Canada Reigns as Beth Underhill Wins It All in the $500,000 HITS Chicago Grand Prix

Crete, Ill. – Aug. 19, 2018 – Showplace End of Summer II finished two weeks of exhilarating FEI competition at HITS Chicago with over ten countries represented through the week.

The prestigious FEI CSI5* event kicked off Thursday and hosted three $35,000 classes leading up to the $500,000 HITS Chicago Grand Prix on Sunday, the first of two such events hosted by HITS this summer. Next will be the FEI CSI5* at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York, September 5-9, featuring the $500,000 Saugerties Grand Prix on Sunday, September 9.

Mattias Tromp and Eyecatcher win the $35,000 Boehringer Ingelheim Welcome. Photo: Andrew Ryback
Mattias Tromp and Eyecatcher win the $35,000 Boehringer Ingelheim Welcome. Photo: Andrew Ryback

Starting off the FEI classes on Thursday, Mattias Tromp and Eyecatcher took the win in the $35,000 Boehringer Ingelheim Welcome, the qualifier for Sunday’s CSI5*, in a jump-off time of 37.90. Tromp also took third place aboard Crack Elle Chavannaise with a jump-off time of 41.32. Beezie Madden was second in a jump-off time of 41.31 aboard Chic Hin D Hyrencourt. Riding for New Zealand, Sharn Wordley was fourth with Barnetta in a jump-off time of 42.74 and in fifth place was Todd Minikus and Amex Z in a four-fault jump-off time of 38.77.

Friday, the $35,000 SmartPak Classic took place with Australian, Scott Keach besting the field aboard Fedor in a jump-off time of 45.41. Madden finished in a close second with a time of 45.99 aboard Chic Hin D Hyrencourt while Wordley and Casper were awarded the third place ribbon, finishing with a time of 46.78.

Erynn Ballard and Catoki's Son Z win the $35,000 AIG Classic. Photo: Andrew Ryback
Erynn Ballard and Catoki’s Son Z win the $35,000 AIG Classic. Photo: Andrew Ryback

Saturday, the final FEI class before the $500,000 HITS Chicago Grand Prix, the $35,000 AIG Classic took place with Canadian Erynn Ballard taking the win aboard Catoki’s Son Z in a speedy time of 36.11, besting the competition by more than six seconds. Second place was awarded to Emanuel Andrade and Ricore Courcelle with a time of 42.66. Third was Ali Wolff and Exotik Sitte in a four-fault jump-off time of 36.72. Tromp finished fourth aboard Eyecatcher and Madden placed fifth with Jiva.

Beth Underhill and Count Me In win the $500,000 HITS Chicago Grand Prix. Photo: Andrew Ryback
Beth Underhill and Count Me In win the $500,000 HITS Chicago Grand Prix. Photo: Andrew Ryback

On Sunday thirty-eighty riders entered the ring to test the challenging course in the $500,000 HITS Chicago Grand Prix, built by Guilherme Jorge, with seven returning for the jump-off. “It is a very prestigious class and I think I built a good course for that,” said Jorge “It was nice to watch the horses jump in the first three classes so I could get a feel for what I was working with and built the course based on that.”

The first round proved challenging for some, but Rowan Willis, Margie Engle, Ali Wolff, Scott Keach, Andrew Kocher, Beth Underhill and Mattias Tromp, came out with clear rounds. First to show in the jump-off was Underhill aboard Count Me In. “This is [Count Me In’s] first CSI5*, so going first I didn’t want to push too hard, but I did want to put a little pressure on the riders behind me,” said Underhill. Her tactic must have worked, because Underhill ended up on top, taking the win aboard Count Me In with the fastest time of 38.65 . “We first came to Balmoral Park in June and had a great time, so we decided to come back. This is all a little surreal right now.”

Beth Underhill and Count Me In. Photo: Andrew Ryback
Beth Underhill and Count Me In. Photo: Andrew Ryback

Keach, riding for Australia, pushed his mount Fedor to try and catch Underhill, but it wasn’t quite enough and the pair ended second with a close time of 38.81. “The footing here is very good and having Guilherme build the course was excellent preparation for the Saugerties CSI5* and the World Equestrian Games,” said Keach.

American rider Kocher was third aboard Kahlua after a jump-off time of 38.98, only a tenth of a second behind Keach and the last to go clear in the jump-off round. “I’m heading to Switzerland next for a couple of CSI3* competitions and then I will be back in the states for the Saugerties CSI5*,” Kocher said when asked about what was in store for him next. Willis was fourth aboard his mare Blue Movie in a four-fault jump-off time of 36.12 while Wolff and Casall claimed fifth.

Todd Minikus and Luken Du Rouet win the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome. Photo: Andrew Ryback
Todd Minikus and Luken Du Rouet win the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome. Photo: Andrew Ryback

In the week’s featured national competition, Todd Minikus rode to a first place finish aboard Luken Du Rouet in the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome with a time of 35.183 seconds. Close behind was Rowan Willis aboard Italian Gold Van De Kruishoeve with a time of 35.213. Third was awarded to Emanuel Andrade and Tupac Van De in a jump-off time of 35.420 and fourth was Beezie Madden with her mount Garant. Rounding out the top-five was Caroline McLeese and Caprisio.

Finishing up national competition Saturday, Andrade took the top two spots in the $10,000 M&S Jumper Classic, placing first aboard Tupac Van De and second aboard Dipssy with respective times of 31.998 and 32.543. David Blake was third with Emilia in a jump-off time of 32.658. Fourth was Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante in a jump-off time of 32.735 and fifth was Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Prince Of Peace in a jump-off time of 33.002.

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