HITS Returns to Marion County for 38th Year

HITS Returns to Marion County for 38th Year

Content and images provided by HITS

For 38 years and counting, HITS, the largest producer of hunter/jumper horse shows nationwide, has called Central Florida its Winter Home, and since 1985, Ocala, the Horse Capital of the World, has been that home. From the Golden Hills property HITS leased for 10 years and then purchased from the Castro family in 1995, to the purchase of Post Time Farm in 2002, HITS’ commitment to the Ocala Winter Circuit has been unwavering; so much so that HITS even got its name here – Horse Shows in the Sun.

Commitment to Ocala and Greater Economic Growth
HITS’ commitment to Marion County continues to grow entering the 2019 show season. The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit has been a staple of the Show Jumping calendar for decades, continually drawing world-class equestrians from across the globe largely due to the support of patrons from Marion County. With steadfast spectator support, its footprint as the largest venue in the area, and an unmatched expertise in first-class operations and venue amenities, HITS continues to increase its investment even in the face of increased competition. HITS remains the largest equestrian venue in the area, with the highest attendance and biggest purses, and delivers unmatched equine expertise and event management – all while being an invaluable economic champion to the growth of Marion County.
HITS works closely with the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Marion Country Tourism Development Council, and the Florida Sports Foundation. The economic impact of the show on the community is unmistakable – $94 million annually according to an independent study by the Sport Management Research Institute (SMRI).  And the county and state have noticed with both the Florida Sports Foundation and the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce recognizing HITS over the previous few years. “The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit brings a great tourism impact to the Ocala/Marion County area each season,” says Corry Locke of the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau.

HITS certainly sees the value in the relationship. “We’ve always felt welcome here and always felt like the community embraced us,” says Tom Struzzieri, president and chief executive officer, HITS, Inc. “But that relationship has really gone to another level in the last few years and we definitely want to give back to our communities.” Creating that symbiotic relationship with Marion County translates into increased tourism, newly developed jobs, real estate purchases and higher commercial development, and more heads in beds with local lodging partners. That heightened economic development and the support of thousands of spectators annually means even more opportunity for HITS to continually grow, innovate, lead and dominate the region.

Enjoy Family-Friendly Fun at HITS Post Time Farm
From the novice spectator to one who is well-versed in the many enjoyments of competitive horse jumping, the variety of classes, divisions and special events will make your visit to HITS Post Time Farm unique and unforgettable. But first, brush up on all things HITS with some news, information and fun facts on competitive jumper and hunter shows:
• Jumping is not a natural movement for a horse. This little known fact changes the perspective of many when watching 1,500 pounds of horse and rider soar over five foot obstacles. The training and dedication on the part of both rider and animal defines the commitment and teamwork affiliated with the sport of Grand Prix showjumping.

• Show jumping is one of the few international sports in which men and women compete on an equal basis. The success a competitor has is based solely on the ability of the horse and rider team. Factors such as age, sex and weight are left at the gate.

• HITS Horse Shows are composed of two divisions:  the Jumper Division and the Hunter Division; within each division there are sections and within each section there are several classes.

Jumper Division
In each class within the Jumper division, the horse and rider team are judged on their speed and accuracy. It is the rider’s job to guide the horse to each fence as efficiently as possible, so the horse may jump comfortably in his stride and land easily galloping onto the next fence. Their goal is to cover the course with no faults (penalties) within the time allowed.  Faults are given when the horse knocks down any part of fence, steps on the edge of a water jump, refuses to jump a fence or exceeds the time allowed to complete the course. Simply, the horse with the fewest faults and the fastest time wins. The Grand Prix is part of the Jumper division and the class showcased in the Olympics.

Hunter Division
Although style does not affect the Jumper Division, it is crucial to the Hunters. Horses are judged subjectively on their conformation, pace and good manners. These horses ideally demonstrate the graceful, athletic and mannerly qualities that are essential in a mount for carrying a rider across the country and over obstacles you would find while out fox hunting. The riders are judged on their own riding style and should display a firm but supple position. A hunt seat is a position a bit forward and out of saddle so as not to interfere with the horse’s natural movement, but stay securely in the saddle so as to remain in control; and, of course, on the horse.

These events are held from January 15th through March 24th. The actual competition runs weekly Wednesday through Sunday, from 8am to 4pm. Daily admission is free other than Sunday, with adult tickets available for $5 and $10 for some special events listed below. Children 12 and under are free and parking is free. Grandstand seating with general admission. Full concession stand and snack bar available. For more information, tickets and Day VIP opportunities, please contact the show office at 352.368.2203 or visit HITSShows.com.

Special Spectator Events
While the weekly competitions are a huge spectator draw featuring some of the best equestrians and most beautiful horses, the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit involves many special events throughout its ten week run. Drawing press coverage in publications from every corner of the country and well-known as some of the most acclaimed events in the equine community, these showcases provide citizens of Ocala a tremendous opportunity to see competition at its highest level. Mark these dates on your calendar now!

• The brand new $100,000 Ocala Electric Utility Grand Prix, sponsored by Ocala Utility Services, is held Sunday, February 17th, beginning at 2 p.m. This is a great chance to come celebrate the Ocala Winter Festival, cheer on world-class athletes and revel in the equine side of our community!

• The $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix, sponsored by Sullivan GMC and Buick, will be held on Sunday, March 17th, beginning at 2 p.m. Sullivan GMC, a diamond sponsor of HITS, carries the latest trucks and cars available and has the region’s largest inventory to choose from while offering a fun and memorable car buying experience. Come support a local sponsor during this special event!

• HITS is not only known as a leading horse show producer, but renowned for providing riders and trainers with an opportunity to earn part of the richest purses in show jumping. We’re thrilled to announce that for the sixth year in a row the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix will return to HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida. The Great American Million is an experience that you don’t want to miss, drawing one of the biggest and best fields of riders in the country. The event will be the culmination of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, held Sunday, March 24th, also beginning at 2pm. Trust us – stop what you’re doing, clear your schedule and make sure this event is on your calendar!

A $10 combined ticket provides admission to both the Ocala Electric Grand Prix and the Great American Million. $5 admission for the Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix. Tickets available in advance or at the gate. Children 12 and under free. For more information, tickets and Day VIP opportunities for the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, contact the show office at 352.368.2203 or visit HITSShows.com.

We Look Forward to Seeing You at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit
While the HITS Corporate Office makes its home in New York, you could say the Heart of HITS is in Florida. “It all started with our first horse show in Gainesville in 1982. It’s been 38 years, and we’re still counting,” Struzzieri exclaimed.

HITS is excited to be back in Ocala for another year of fantastic Horse Shows in the Sun, and of community involvement and camaraderie in 2019 and beyond. For more information, a detailed list of dates and times, or to view events online, please visit www.hitsshows.com. OM


2019 DATES

Ocala January Classic – I January 15-20 USEF National / 5*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
$50,000 HITS Grand Prix Sunday
Ocala January Festival – II January 22-27 USEF National / 5*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
$50,000 HITS Grand Prix Sunday  
Ocala Premiere – III January 29 – February 3 USEF National / 5*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
$50,000 HITS Grand Prix Sunday  
Ocala Winter Classic – IV February 5-10 USEF Premier / 5*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Saturday
$50,000 Boehringer Ingelheim Grand Prix Sunday
Ocala Winter Festival – V February 12-17 USEF Premier / 6*
$50,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
M&S Children’s/Adult Team Challenge Friday-Sunday
$100,000 Ocala Electric Utility Grand Prix Sunday  
Ocala Masters – VI February 19-24 USEF Premier / 5*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
$50,000 Kindredbio Grand Prix Sunday  
Ocala Tournament – VII February 26 – March 3 USEF Premier / 5*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
$50,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix Sunday  
Ocala Winter Finals – VIII March 5-10 USEF Premier / 5*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Thursday
$50,000 Summitt Joint Performance Grand Prix Sunday  
Ocala Winter Celebration – IX March 12-17 USEF Premier / 6*
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday
M&S Children’s/Adult Team Challenge Friday-Sunday
$100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix Sunday  
Ocala Championship – X March 19-24 USEF Premier / 6*
HITS Equitation Championship Friday
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday evening
$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Saturday  
Great American $1 Million Grand Prix Sunday  


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