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America’s Top Riders Lead Rich International Field At Syracuse Invitational

Written by: Phelps Media Group, Inc.
Client: National Horse Show
Release Date: 2009-10-23

Who to watch? The line-up is a ‘who’s who’ in show jumping!

Syracuse, NY - October 23, 2009 - The highest ranked U.S. riders and top riders from seven other countries will compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money as well as valuable World Cup Qualifier points from October 28 – November 1, 2009 at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament featuring the 126th National Horse Show.

The list includes two former World Champions, medalists from the most recent Olympics and previous World Cup Finals winners. Athletes will compete for prize money and qualifying points from Wednesday through Sunday, including the $100,000 Budweiser FEI World Cup Qualifier of Syracuse and the Animal Planet Sporthorse Cup, the grand finale at the Oncenter complex in downtown Syracuse.

McLain Ward, the top-ranked rider in the U.S. and the top American in international rankings, is clearly the one to watch coming in to Syracuse. Ward is having a red-hot fall circuit, including his notable victory at the $1 million CN International in Calgary. Former World Champion, World Cup Finals winner and Olympic Gold medalist, Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil, returns to Syracuse with quick horses and a winning record, making him a contender in the World Cup Qualifier and in Syracuse’s notoriously quick speed competitions.

Other key riders include Canada’s Ian Millar, otherwise known as “Captain Canada” and proud bearer of a 2008 Team Silver Olympic medal. Millar is also a veteran of nine Olympiads. Former Canadian and newly minted U.S. citizen Mario Deslauriers is also a favorite. Some top European contenders include show jumping legend Michael Whitaker of Great Britain, former World Champion Dermott Lennon of Ireland, who will be competing in Syracuse for the first time, and Gerco Schroeder of the Netherlands, the reigning team Gold Medalist from the 2006 World Equestrian Games.

Christine McCrea, 2008 World Cup Qualifier of Syracuse winner, will be returning to the Tournament try to defend her title. For the first time, Cazenovia’s Beezie Madden will not be competing at the Tournament as she recovers from shoulder surgery. Madden will be in attendance throughout, however, making public appearances and holding autograph sessions. She expects to be competing again in January in time for the trials for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

Riders who have confirmed their intention to compete in the international division are:

McLain Ward – USA Rodrigo Pessoa – BRA
Mario Deslauriers – USA Todd Minikus – USA
Ian Millar – CAN Hillary Dobbs – USA
Cara Raether – USA Margie Engle – USA
Christine McCrea – USA Leslie Howard – USA
Shane Sweetnam – IRL Brianne Goutal – USA
Charlie Jayne – USA Michelle Spadone – USA
Darragh Kenny – IRL Keean White – CAN
Danielle Torano – USA Kevin Babington – IRL
Allison Robitaille – USA Mac Cone – CAN
Jonathan McCrea – IRL Michael Whitaker – GBR
Gerco Schroder – NED John Anderson – CAN
Dermott Lennon – IRL Ljubov Kochetova – RUS
Katie Prudent – FRA Erynn Ballard – CAN

Tickets are available for all featured Tournament competitions (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7 PM; Saturday at 2PM and at 7PM; and Sunday at 2PM) range from $10.00 to $25.00 and are available through Ticketmaster ( and the Oncenter Box Office (315-435-2121). Competitions not listed above as ticketed are free.

In addition to elite international show jumping, the Tournament offers a free Equestrian Expo with shopping, dining, exhibits, children’s activities, live entertainment, and a host of educational demonstrations and lectures.

About the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament: Each fall, the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament welcomes the top-ranked equestrians from across the US and the world to downtown Syracuse to compete at the War Memorial Arena in the Oncenter Complex. The event features a full slate of high-level competition, entertainment, shopping and exhibitions and runs October 28 to November 1, 2009. A 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, the Syracuse Invitational benefits Cornell University Equine Hospital and the Vera House. For more information, please visit For more information on the National Horse Show, please visit


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