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Ronan McGuigan dominates the Strongid© C 2X™ Grand Prix Stadium - topping SmartPak Grand Prix

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Ronan McGuigan jump to a win in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix presented by Zoetis to kick off week II of the HITS Saugerties spring circuit. Photo ©ESI Photography.Ronan McGuigan of Far Hills, New Jersey was quick to give Capall Zidane all the credit after Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix presented by Zoetis, at HITS Saugerties. McGuigan's self-proclaimed "rider error" kept them out of the ribbons last Friday, but he let his horse do the redeeming this week. "I gave him a bad ride last Friday and we had two down on Sunday. He was great today – we are moving in the right direction," McGuigan said, giving praise to his 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood. The gelding also carried him to a win in Wednesday's $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome for the second week in a row.

Course designer Oscar Soberon, of Monterrey, Mexico is making his HITS Saugerties debut during a sold-out week. From a standing-room only Verizon VIP Club to at-capacity stabling, the spring circuit is booming at the halfway mark. Soberon's 13-obstacle track included three double combinations with 16 jumping efforts. Faults were spread evenly throughout the course, but fence four and the A element of five generated 48 faults during the 26-horse order.

"I knew this course would suit me when I walked it," said McGuigan. A jump-off among four-faulters was becoming a real possibility until Mario Deslauriers of New York, New York and Lisa Delauriers' Scout De La Cense, ninth in the order, left all the rails up. Ljubov Kochetova of Wellington, Florida secured a jump-off the next trip aboard her own URUS. McGuigan was one of seven to eventually go clean in the first round.

Returning first over the short course, Delauriers set an immediate Great American Time to Beat at 39.61 seconds. The four who followed were unable to best him until McGuigan and Capall Zidane turned and burned, shaving nearly three seconds off the clock and crossing the timers in 36.71 seconds. "Didn't know I was fast enough until I looked at the clock," he said. "I watched Mario and was confident I could be faster over the first two fences." McGuigan waited to fit six strides into the double combination of the jump-off, but as soon as he landed it clear he was going for a win. "Capall Zidane is very careful, so he gives me an advantage – I attacked the last two jumps."

With one still to go, McGuigan was sitting pretty, but not in the clear yet. Julie Welles of Wellington, Florida went last and finished clean just over a second off the lead in 37.22 seconds for second-place in the irons of Stephex Stables & Missy Clark's Twan. Deslauriers and Scout De La Cense capped the top three. Jumping to fourth was last week's victor, Peter Leone of Greenwich, Connecticut, this time in the irons of Wayfarer for Lionshare Farm. They stopped the clock clear in 39.91 seconds. Amy Momrow of Wellington, Florida piloted Monty Kelly's Baldino Du Rouet to fifth with a double clear effort in 40.94 seconds and Kochetova ended sixth with URUS.

Grand Prix competition continues at HITS-on-the-Hudson on Sunday as the $75,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, takes the stage and the road to the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix continues.

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