Jenny Karazissis, Taylor St. Jacques and Augusta Iwasaki Claim Big Victories at HITS Championship

Jenny Karazissis and Undeniable Triumphant in $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix

Jenny Karazissis and Undeniable - Photo by ESI Photography
Jenny Karazissis and Undeniable – Photo by ESI Photography

Saugerties, N.Y. – Sept. 12, 2017 – As Jenny Karazissis rode Undeniable into HITS Grand Prix Stadium for the concluding round of the richest hunter class in the country, Lisa Hankin quietly watched the two-some from a chair on the berm amidst a myriad of Spectators.

To qualify for the final round of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix, all of the original entries, fifty-two, competed in two qualifying rounds on Friday and Saturday from which the top twenty-five pairs would advance to Sunday’s Round 3. Then, the four highest scoring pairs from round 3 would return to complete the fourth, and final round.

On Sunday, when the twenty-five extraordinarily talented riders took center stage, they started with a clean slate: No previous scoring factored in. Rian Beals of Saugerties, New York designed a sprawling course of hunt-field style fences which weaved a track throughout several colorful jumps which had already been set in place for the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix.

When round 3 began, Jenny Karazissis of Calabasas, California held second in the overall scoring, just behind Patricia Griffith and Stellar. Griffith of New York, New York won the Prix in 2012 riding Sienna, and again in 2016 atop Skorekeeper.

Though previous round scores are zeroed-out, they are used to determine the round 3 order of go. Riders return in reverse order, lowest to highest. In round 3, Undeniable lived up to his name garnering a top score of 265.00 which included a 90, the highest individual score awarded in round 3.

The trio of judging panels advanced Griffith and Stellar into the final round with a score of 261.250, Tracey Fenney and MTM Outbid with a score of 262.000, and Keri Kampsen riding Small Occasion with a score of 260.000.

Jenny Karazissis and Undeniable
Jenny Karazissis and Undeniable – Photo by ESI Photography

When Karazissis and Undeniable trotted into the Grand Prix Stadium a hush fell over the crowd. The team delivered a flawless performance earning the combined winning score of 531.500, and, again, the highest individual score awarded of 92. For Lisa Hankin, who leases Undeniable, this was no surprise. She said, “Whenever they do a 3’6” performance, they can reliably lay down scores of 88s and 89s, without doing anything differently than they normally do. And if they have a really good day, they easily break the 90s. So, we rolled the dice and came East, and I knew if they did what they normally do, then they’d have a real shot at winning – and they did!”

Karazissis has been partnered with the big, colorful Holsteiner who is known as ‘Nemo’ around the barn, for seven years. She said he is so much fun to ride and referred to him as part of the family. “He is incredibly smart. He totally knew today was important, so he stepped up and never let me down.”

In addition to praising her equine partner, Karazissis said the win would not have been possible without the support of Lisa Hankin, who is so deserving of this victory, “Lisa is someone who really and truly cares about the horses, which is the most important thing to me.” Then she added, “I would really like to thank Tom Struzzieri for putting up this kind of Prize Money for Hunters. It is incredible and one of the main reasons we came East to compete.”

This year, Griffith, one of only two riders to claim top honors twice in this class, would have to settle for second with Stellar. Keri Kampsen placed third riding Small Occasion, and Tracy Fenney aboard MTM Oubid took home fourth place.

“All of these riders are great clients of ours,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “We appreciate that they travel across the country to come show with us. This class worked out great and we look forward to it getting better and better each year.”


Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix – Overall
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 / R2 / Total
1. Undeniable / Jenny Karazissis / Hope Town Farms / 265.000 / 266.500 / 531.500
2. Stellar / Patricia Griffith / Holly Orlando / 261.250 / 261.000 / 522.250
3. Small Occasion / Keri Kampsen / Iwasaki & Reilly / 260.000 / 262.000 / 522.000
4. MTM Outbid / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 262.000 / 249.000 / 511.000
5. Galan / Amber Henter / Maarten Huygens HS / 259.000 / 259.000
6. Miss Lucy / Jennifer Alfano / Sharon O’Neill / 258.750 / 258.750
7. Inquisitive / Laena Romond / Can We Keep It / 256.000 / 256.000
8. Lulavani / Sami Milo / Cavallo Stables / 255.000 / 255.000
9. Boris / Keri Kampsen / Vlock Show Stables / 254.850 / 254.850
10. Big Shot / Jenny Karazissis / Dulcie Lou Morris / 254.750 / 254.750
11. Charismo / David Wilbur / Wilbur Show Stables / 253.000 / 253.000
12. Dress Balou / Aaron Vale / Donald Stewart / 251.500 / 251.500

Taylor St. Jacques and Qantar Des Etisses Bring Their A-Game to Win the $250,000 Black Barn Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix

Taylor St. Jacques and Qantar Des Etisses
Taylor St. Jacques and Qantar Des Etisses – Photo by ESI Photography

This whole year, Taylor St. Jacques, the 18-year-old superstar from Glen Allen, Virginia, has been an unstoppable force at every major horse show, as she dominated both the hunter and equitation divisions. On Sunday, September 10, she capped off her stellar summer season at HITS-on-The-Hudson by winning the $250,000 Black Barn Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix title at the HITS Championship.

St. Jacques riding Qantar Des Etisses, her 13-year-old Stallion, produced the only triple clear rounds in all three phases of the Jumper Prix.

On day one, twenty-six riders took a turn over the first-round course, designed by Martin Otto of Muenster, Germany. The 13-obstacle, 16 jumping effort track challenged the junior and amateur riders, to test their skills with a potentially big payoff, in-sight. On Sunday, he top 25 riders returned to compete in the final. The class is laid out in two rounds over two days of competition; faults carry over from both rounds to establish those who move on to the jump-off in the final.

Nine riders negotiated a fault-free performance in round one. The second-round course proved to be tougher, and cleared only two, who advanced to round three, and vie for the prestigious win.

Giavanna Rinaldi, 18, of St. Charles, Illinois was the first to re-enter for the jump-off atop Julio VH Elzenhou, a 2009 Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock. They powered through the course, executing each turn with precision to stop the clock in a speedy, 31.668 seconds.

St. Jacques opted for a more conservative pace to improve her chance of jumping clear. Her strategy worked. St. Jacques passed through the timers fault-free in 35.366 seconds, well within the time allowed of 39 seconds. She flashed her winning smile, patted her horse, and slid her arms around his neck in a warm embrace as the pair exited HITS Grand Prix Stadium.

In 2016, Rinaldi placed second in this same event riding Dulf Van Den Bisschop, owned by Pony Lane Farm.

St. Jacques trains with Andre Dignelli at Heritage Farm. In terms of the future, St. Jacques has her sights set on participating in the U25 Jumper Division and then, one day, perhaps in the Olympic Games.


Black Barn $250,000 Jr/A-O Jumper Prix
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner 
1. Taylor St Jacques / Qantar Des Etisses / Taylor St Jacques
2. Giavanna Rinaldi / Julio VH Elzenhout / Blue Chip Bloodstock
3. Kady Abrahamson / Charline 28 / Abrahamson Equestrian LLC
4. Daniel Rihan / Coleur / Daniel Rihan
5. Daisy Farish / Great White / Daisy Farish
6. Alexandra Pielet / Helene VE / Co-Pielet, LLC
7. Brian Moggre / MTM Vivre Le Reve / Major Wager LLC
8. David Vainer / Clasic Verdt / David Vainer
9. Jennifer Jones / Stand by Me / Andrew Kocher
10. Haley Gassel / Quite Dark 2 / Westwind Equine Training Center
11. Andrea Torres Guerreiro / Fifty Shades / Andrea Torres Guerreiro
12. Alexa Lowe-Wiseman / Udstrum Du Lys / Windsor Farm Sales

Augusta Iwasaki and Small Adventure Win $100,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Final at HITS Championship

Augusta Iwasaki and Small Adventure
Augusta Iwasaki and Small Adventure – Photo by ESI Photography

When 13-year-old Augusta Iwasaki traveled cross-country to participate for the first time in the prestigious $100,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Final at HITS Championship, she proved that her miles in the pony ring had paid off, BIG. Iwasaki, of Calabasas, California, emerged triumphant after mastering all four-rounds of the Platinum Performance $100,000 Hunter Prix Final. Iwasaki consistently bested the competition. Atop Illusion, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, she placed first in Round 1 and Round 2. Then in Round 3 and Round 4, Iwasaki placed first on Small Adventure, also owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, with whom she ultimately took home the $30,000 share of the prize purse.

“It’s very exciting to win! KiKi [Small Adventure] has always been such a good horse,” remarked Iwasaki. “She is so sweet, and she is bomb-proof, so it’s a pretty easy ride on course.”

When asked if the event is nerve wracking with so much prize money at stake, Iwasaki nonchalantly answered, “I try not to think about that. I just go in ring and do my best.” Iwasaki has been riding since the age of 4. “From the time my mother first sat me on a horse, I loved it, and I have never stopped riding.”

Iwasaki rides and trains with her mother Elizabeth Reilly at Makoto Farms in Agoura Hills, California. Reilly founded the successful show barn in 2008 with her husband and partner, Chris Iwasaki. Over the years, Makoto Farms has produced top riders and horses who have won numerous championships and national titles across the country.

After fifty entries competed in Friday and Saturday’s two preliminary rounds, courses designed by Rian Beals of Saugerties, the total of those scores determine the top 25 competitors who advanced to jump in Round 3 on Sunday. Only the top four from Round 3 would return for one last test to prove who would reign supreme. Iwasaki and Small Adventure had brought their A-game and claimed the lead in both the third and final rounds by over twenty-five points.

Iwasaki and Small Adventure finished the third round with a total score of 255, tabulated by three judging panels, which tied the pair with Hallie Grimes atop Custom Made whose total tallied 255. In the final round, Iwasaki pulled ahead of Grimes when judges awarded the duo a final round score of 254, for their ultimate winning total of 509.

Hallie Grimes of Houston, Texas, went home with second place piloting Custom Made to a Round 4 score of 227, for an overall score of 482 for second place.

Alexa Bayko of Haverhill, Massachusetts rode Carero to a score of 245.5 in the third round, for the second highest score heading in to challenge the final four. They jumped to a score of 235 in the final round for a total of 480.5, and the ultimate third place prize.

Jillian Rosenwasser and Echappe, captured the final spot in the top four. After going into the final round with a score of 245, they scored 204 to earn a total of 449 for the fourth-place payout.

Emily Smith, an educator and dutritionist, flew in from Texas to present the Awards on behalf of Platform Performance. “We love being involved with HITS, and I love the Hunter Prix in particular, as we are able to connect with the Juniors and Amateurs and their amazing 3’ horses,” remarked Smith. “And HITS makes the Final into a really big deal, the rings are all decorated, the VIP tables are clad in white, and it is so impressive to hold the Final in the Grand Prix Ring. I just love being here, every time.”

Platinum Performance® was founded in veterinary practice nearly two decades ago, it is now a widely recommended therapeutic nutrition brand by equine veterinarians in the United States, and the brand of choice for high level equine athletes around the world.


Platinum Performance $100,000 Hunter Prix – Overall
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 / R2 / Total
1. Small Adventure / Augusta Iwasaki /Iwasaki & Reilly / 255.000 / 254.000 / 509.000
2. Custom Made / Hallie Grimes / Can We Keep It / 255.000 / 227.000 / 482.000
3. Carero / Alexa Bayko / Alexa Bayko / 245.500 / 235.000 / 480.500
4. Echappe / Jillian Rosenwasser / Donna Rosenwasser / 245.000 / 204.000 / 449.000
5. Zentina B / Samantha Karp / Samantha Karp / 245.000 / 245.000
6. Applause / Jessica Barno / Nevergreen Farm / 240.500 / 240.500
7. Contina / Jacquelyn Maggiore / Jacquelyn Maggiore / 237.000 / 237.000
8. Lanzerca Nicole Oliynyk / Missy Palmisciano / 232.000 / 232.000
9. Eternity / Leigh Gallagher / Leigh Gallagher / 232.000 / 232.000
10. Blue Grass / Sarah Kessler / Summer Stone Farm / 227.000 / 227.000
11. Futuro / Sarah Wanger / Amy Wanger / 226.000 / 226.000
12. Quite Fun / Katherine Delagarza / Redfield Farm / 225.000 / 225.000

Photos: ESI Photography

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