INDIO, CA (March 9, 2001)--How do the West Coast horses stack up against the East Coast horses? Find out Sunday, March 11, when horses in Indio, California, compete against horses in Ocala, Florida, in one class via simulcast satellite transmission in the third annual $50,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge presented by The Chronicle of the Horse.
World-class show hunters at HITS show grounds on opposite sides of the country have competed in a series of qualifying events for five weeks at the HITS circuits in Florida and California. Horses have earned a numerical score on a scale of one to 100 in each of the preliminary rounds. The top ten horses at Ocala and Indio which have earned the highest scores in the preliminary rounds have qualified to compete in the final rounds of the $50,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge starting at 8am PST at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Indio, and at 11am EST at the Golden Hills International Show Grounds in Ocala.
Following the successful plan of the previous Challenges, on the morning of March 11, course designers in Indio and Ocala will set an identical course. Satellite trucks will link the two sites so that a panel of judges at each venue can watch every round from both sites. Rounds will alternate between the two venues, with judges watching the competition only on TV monitors to equalize the judging. For spectators, televisions located in a tent near the competition arena will display the round from the opposing show grounds, and it will be only a few steps away to the ring outside to see the next round on-site.
HITS has successfully produced this innovative simulcast competition twice before, allowing riders from opposite coasts to participate in one competition. In 1999, Eva Gonda of Beverly Hills, California, on El Campeon Farm's Doubletake won the $50,000 Hunter Challenge from Indio. In 2000, it was a three-way Challenge when HITS Indio, HITS Ocala, and the Cosequin® Winter Equestrian Festival in Palm Beach competed in a $75,000 Challenge. Cody Baird of Greenwich, Connecticut, riding Most Wanted at the Cosequin® WEF took the blue for October Farm.
The East Meets West Hunter Challenge is open to hunters showing in Junior, Amateur-Owner, First-Year Green, Second-Year Green, Green Conformation, Regular, and Regular Conformation Hunter. The event's sponsor, The Chronicle of the Horse, is the most widely read hunter/jumper weekly news magazine.