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That's ok though, the sudden rain gave the entire showgrounds a good washdown. I was waiting around under a VIP tent when the rain started coming in sideways, getting very much in the way of my plan to share a few sneak peeks of the jumps being set for tomorrow's Pfizer Million. The jumps are all brand new and from what I did see they are amazing. But the rain and extreme wind promptly shut down the course building efforts just as they were getting started.
Windmills blown over by the wind, oh the irony.
Not to worry, the skies have already cleared, and with the whole evening to drain no one's got any doubt that the footing will be anything less than perfect by the time competition starts in the morning. But I feel for the jump crew, who will be working in messy conditions up to their ankles until nightfall to prepare the course for tomorrow.
In any case, it's typical weather for this area of the country, and the showgrounds, while drenched right now, are well prepared for it. The raised berms stayed relatively dry under their tents, and the arenas not in use were quickly sealed before everyone took cover. Ok, so as the temperature plummeted and my shoes took on water as I ran for my car, I might have been missing the idyllic setting in the Hamptons
like crazy just a bit, but therein lies the reason that that event is a once a year occurance. . . .
Warming up next to the indoor
I digress. The HITS on the Hudson showgrounds at Saugerties is a busy place this weekend, with riders in from all over the country to compete in three high dollar hunter and jumper classes. Sorry, high dollar doesn't quite capture it. Actually, nothing really does. The Pfizer Million is the only million dollar grand prix ever held on U.S. soil, and will remain so until next March, when HITS will top itself by holding a Million Dollar grand prix in Thermal. Is it all about the money? It is this weekend, but HITS does a good job of matching its show jumping dollar signs with show jumping difficulty.
Then there's the half million dollar hunter prix, an interesting derby that will hold its finals tomorrow. $500k for a hunter class is attention-getting all on its own, and organizers have done it justice this year by stepping up the level of difficulty in the first two rounds. And the hunter riders are loving it. Hope Glynn, who is sitting third after the 2nd round, summed it up pretty well by saying that if she didn't come across the country to take part in a competition that placed so much money and importance on the hunters, she wouldn't be doing the sport that she's most passionate about any justice. There is also a $250k hunter prix final tomorrow for amateur and junior riders. Sheesh. All the dollar signs are making me dizzy....
Even though I'm across the continent from it, I'll also be following the $1,000,000 CN International, which is happening tomorrow in Calgary, Canada at Spruce Meadows. It's an interesting coincidence (two million dollar show jumping events on the same day??Madness!!) that has now happened for three years in a row and no one can ever quite explain why. Fellow ProEquest writer Ashley Rohmer will be holding it down from Spruce Meadows tomorrow, and trying not to lose her mind if Eric Lamaze happens by.
Tomorrow the grand prix action at HITS Saugerties begins at 2pmEST, and will be broadcast live on the web for free. The $500,000 Hunter Prix Final begins first thing in the morning, and in a twist that still strikes me as unusual even though I saw it last year, the hunter course is set up alongside the grand prix jumps in the main arena. Yes, the arena is that enormous, and yes, it does still make me wish for an exceptionally brave hunter prix horse who would give us all a thrill and jump one of the grand prix jumps.
And yes that is silly but tomorrow when you see the pictures, you'll understand.
For now I leave you with some fun shots from the end of today. I learned that while it's not so fun to be caught out in the rain, it is kind of fun to take pictures of other people running in the rain.
Useful links for tomorrow's big day include the Grand Prix order of go and the live webcast link. And check back on ProEquest in the morning for the promised sneak peek of what looks like a very cool course of enormous grand prix jumps!
Waiting it out
Get ready to wring out your shoes, sir
An optimistic omen for tomorrow - the skies cleared and the course builders went back to work. Hooray!