$75,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge

More than 130 top hunter horses are currently battling for qualifying slots in the $75,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge--the largest purse ever offered in a hunter competition. On March 12, the top 10 hunter horses in Indio, Ocala, and Wellington will compete against each other, judged via monitors on all three show grounds, in the first-ever three-way simulcast hunter competition. Telecast from HITS Desert Circuit VI in California, HITS Ocala V in Florida, and the Winter Equestrian Festival Palm Beach Finale in Florida, the event will also be aired on ESPN2 and the Outdoor Life Network later this winter.

The East Meets West Hunter Challenge, presented by The Chronicle of the Horse will use state-of-the-art satellite television technology to link the three show sites. Course designers at each venue will have set an identical course at each site and then, shortly after dawn, the satellite link trucks will be moved into place so that the panels of judges in Indio, Ocala, and Wellington can watch every round from each venue. Rounds will alternate from venue to venue, with judges watching the competition only on TV monitors in order to equalize the judging.

"Last year we proved beyond doubt that the technology works," reports HITS Senior Vice President Tony Hitchcock. "We had 20 rounds (10 at each venue) and only one could not be judged on the TV monitors at both venues-that due to heavy rain, not satellite failure. This year we will need two satellites to handle the complex task of switching between the three venues, but I am confident that our team of technical wizards, under the supervision of Tim Schultz of Sunrise Telecommunications, will be 100% up to the task. We are very excited by the challenge of this three-way, live sporting event and enjoy blazing new trails in the world of sports."

Riders will have participated in four preliminary rounds to determine the top ten riders at each venue eligible to compete in the $75,000 East Meets West Hunter Challenge. The scores of the Final Round on March 12 will count double and will be added to the sum of the top three preliminary round scores to determine the final placing in the 2000 Challenge.

For more information about the East Meets West Hunter Challenge, call 760/ 775-3081 in Indio or 352/620-2275 in Ocala.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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