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Press Release


Abby Gates rode Change of Thyme to an excellent win in the Adult Amateur Jumpers at the Tampa Equestrian Festival.

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Abby Gates and Change of Thyme Score Adult Amateur Jumper Victory at Tampa Equestrian Festival

Written by: Rebecca Walton
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2010-04-09

Tampa, FL – April 9, 2010 – It was the first rainy day at the Tampa Equestrian Festival as the Children’s Jumpers and the Adult Amateur Jumpers competed in their Power & Speed classes. Today’s top prize was awarded to Abby Gates, who was fault-free during both the power and speed phases of the Adult Amateur Jumper class with Change of Thyme. Later in the day, Alex Vespico and Fair Play had the winning round in the Children’s Jumper class.

Today’s classes were held in the Covered Arena at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds, with courses designed by Philip J De Vita. Each class was scored under Table II, 2(c), meaning that riders had to first compete over the power phase, and those riders that completed it without fault advanced to the speed phase. The power phase featured two double combinations, while the speed phase featured a tight inside turn to a tall vertical.

Heather Villemaire and Ca Va were the first pair to advance to the speed phase during the Adult Amateur Jumper class. An unfortunate refusal would earn them time faults resulting in the fourth place ribbon. Next to show over the speed phase was Kaley Pratt and Shane, owned by Hillary Simpson. The duo managed to spring over each fence leaving the rails in their cups. They stopped the clock at 40.273 seconds, which held up for the second place prize.

Abby Gates and Change of Thyme were next to complete the power phase without fault and qualify for the speed phase. The pair picked up their pace, easily clearing the fences in their path. They crossed the finish line in 38.341 seconds and jumped to the top of the leader board with zero faults. Villemaire and her second mount, Conelly, were the last to compete in the speed phase. As they increased their gallop the duo unfortunately lowered the height of the first fence, for a four-fault score in a time of 42.565 seconds and the third place honors.

Today is 16-year-old Change of Thyme’s birthday, so luck was on the duo’s side. “Thymer is absolutely amazing,” smiled Gates. “Today I just wanted to go clear the first seven jumps so I could make it to the speed. It actually wound up being a little faster than I wanted it be at the end, but my horse is pretty talented.”

The Children’s Jumper class was the last to compete in the Covered Arena today. Five horse and rider combinations were able to complete both the power and speed phases without fault. Hannah Holik and The Contender, owned by Czech Mate, LLC, was the first in the ring. The pair was fast and clean with a speed phase time of 39.134 seconds. Their excellent effort would hold up for the third pace ribbon.

Alex Vespico and Fair Play were seventh in the order and the first to change Holik’s time. They had a clean turn to the tall vertical and left all the fences intact. The duo broke the beam at 37.248 seconds, taking over the first place position and winning the class. Savannah Jenkins tried to catch Vespico’s time with Lanzina, owned by Karl Beyer, but they fell short after completing a clear round in 38.575 seconds for the third place prize.

The Adult Amateur Jumper and Children’s Jumper divisions will conclude tomorrow at the Tampa Equestrian Festival during their NAL/WIHS qualifying Classics. Later in the day the show will move to Raymond James Stadium, where the top horses and riders in the world will compete for the crown jewel of show jumping. The final event at the Tournament of Champions is the 2010 $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational, which will begin under the lights at 7 p.m.

For more information about the Tampa Equestrian Festival please visit

Photo Credit: Abby Gates rode Change of Thyme to an excellent win in the Adult Amateur Jumpers at the Tampa Equestrian Festival. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


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