Jill_1_.JPGThermal, CA – Canadian Jill Henselwood credited her dad with an assist following Sunday’s $75,000 Waldorf-Astoria Collection Grand Prix at HITS Thermal.

Henselwood’s father, John MacAngus, and her sister Olivia left the 28-degree weather in Canada to watch Jill show in Sunday’s featured class at HITS Thermal. And much to their delight, they saw Jill capture her first Grand Prix triumph of the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit.

“It’s about time,” said Henselwood. “My dad had to come down and give me a swift kick.”

Henselwood and her mount Black Ice had the fastest double-clear effort on builder Danny Foster’s route to win the blue ribbon and $22,500 in prize money. And as it turned out, Henselwood was not the only Canadian to shine in Sunday’s Grand Prix. Fellow Canadan Kim Farlinger and her mount Cordoba were second, John Pearce and Chianto were fourth, and Jenn Serek and Bottom Line were 12th capping off a tremendous afternoon for Canada.

“Jill was due,” joked Farlinger. “I am sure she is going to win a few more times in Thermal this year.”

“What a great day for Canada,” said Henselwood, who outlasted 32 pairs. “We love coming to this circuit to get our horses ready for the rest of the season. It’s a perfect venue for us.”

Kicking off the jump-off were Farlinger and Cordoba. The pair set the Great American Time to Beat at 42.529 with a clear effort. Second to go in the order were Eddie Macken and Tedechine Sept, who also went clear and stopped the clocks in 43.276 to finish the day in third place.

Third to challenge the route were Henselwood and Stacie Ryan’s Black Ice. Finally, Henselwood looked like the same rider who won the Pan Am Games’ Gold Medal when she stopped the clocks in 41.396 to move to the top of the mountain.

Until now, Henselwood has not been at full strength during the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit due to a kidney infection that caused her to miss several Grand Prix classes.

Next in the order were Pearce and his mount Chianto. The pair dropped the route’s final jump resulting in a four-place finish  and a $6,000 check for owner Alison Moore. Pearce’s time of 40.435 would have given him the lead if that final rail had stayed up.

“It was a super course,” said Farlinger. “All of Danny’s courses are tough but he is a master at what he does.”

“What a tremendous horse show,” said Foster. “Everything was perfect. I heard such great things about this place before I got here and everything was true.”

With the victory, Henselwood and Black Ice jumped up five spots to fourth in the standings for the $200,000 Invitational Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, March 16 during the all new Championship Week at HITS Thermal. The top-30 pairs based on prize money won during the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit will be invited to compete in the class.