INDIO, CA (March 9, 2001)--Horse Shows In The Sun (HITS) announced today that Matthew Sereni, 16, of Los Altos Hills, California, has been selected by the judges as this year's winner of the Potcreek Farm Junior Sportsman Award at the Indio Desert Circuit--a six-week hunter/jumper horse show in Indio, California. The award will be presented to Matthew in the Grand Prix field at HITS Desert Horse Park on Sunday, March 11, during half-time ceremonies. The Indio Desert Circuit is one of the largest horse shows in the United States and is host to more than 2,000 horses competing in over 300 hunter, jumper, and equitation classes each week.
Matthew has been riding since he was three years old. He trains with his mother, Debbi Sereni, and Michael Henaghan at Traditional Show Jumping--Henaghan's stable in Calabasas, California. At the Indio Desert Circuit, Matthew competed in Small Junior Hunter classes with Fare Niente, and in High Junior Jumpers with Keepsake. Pinnacle Equine Group of Los Altos, California, owns both horses. Matthew also rode Centerstage in Large Junior Hunters for Carleton Brooks, a well-known professional trainer who operates Uphill Farm based in Atherton, California. In competition, Matthew was required to jump courses with fences set at a minimum of 3' 6" for the hunters and up to 4' 6" for the jumpers.
With Centerstage, Matthew has qualified to compete in the $50,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge that will be held from 8am-9am PST on March 11. The Challenge is a bi-coastal simulcast competition that pits the top 10 hunter riders from Indio against the top 10 hunter riders at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit in Florida. Judges in both locations view the competition live on TV monitors linked by satellite.
A sophomore at Pinewood High in Los Altos, Matthew plays soccer and baseball in his school's athletics program. He says that his school is very supportive of his passion for horse sports and has permitted him to work out a schedule for his studies that allows him to train and compete. Matthew is also involved in community services and volunteers to work with autistic children. "One of the most important things about Matthew ever since his pony days is his love for horses," says Mrs. Sereni. "He becomes very attached to each horse and takes responsibility for all aspects of their care."
The winner of the Junior Sportsman Award is selected each year based on the judge's observations of a junior rider's conduct and attitude, and especially courtesy, appropriate to a competitor in horse sports. Matthew will receive an Antares Circuit Grand Champion jacket with the title of his award embroidered on it.
HITS, based in Rhinebeck, New York, is the producer of six world-class hunter/jumper horse show circuits in the U.S.
Indio Desert Circuit 2001 Show Jumping Action continues ........... FINAL WEEK
Circuit VI March 7-11Featured Events: $50,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge
Presented by The Chronicle of the Horse Sunday, March 11 8am
$150,000 Ford Grand Prix of the Desert Sunday, March 11 2pm
Special Day Event: Fiesta Day
Presented by Avis, Boys & Girls Club of Coachella
Valley, El Informador del Valle, KUNA TV, and
Valley Meat Markets Sunday, March 11 11am-1pm