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Tampa Equestrian Festival Week 2 Wrap-up, April 5-10, 2010, Tournament of Champions

Written by: Lindsay McCall
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2010-04-12

Tampa, FL-April 12, 2010- It was with speed and grace that Jeffery Welles was able to capture Saturday night’s victory with his top mount Armani during a three-horse jump-off. The pair raced through the finish line in 44.36 seconds after completing a clear short course during the 2010 $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm at Raymond James Stadium. Peter Leone tried to catch his time with Select, who also left all the rails intact, but the duo’s time of 44.87 seconds would fall just short and take second place. Mac Cone lowered the heights of three fences for a 12 fault score and third place honors.

2008 Olympic course designer Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL, designed Saturday night’s difficult course. The 13 numbered obstacles featured three double combinations, including a double liverpool combination, an aqueduct wall, a triple bar, and a tall plank fence vertical. The most difficult fences proved to be the first part of the double liverpool combination and the plank fence.

Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis II were one of nine riders to fall victim to the liverpool combination, but they stopped the clock at 83.01 seconds to be the fastest four-faulter and earn the fourth place award. Howard was one of six four-fault riders, which also included Nicole Shahinian-Simpson, Cara Raether, Georgina Bloomberg, Michael Morrissey, and Hugh Graham.

Cone and Ole were first in the ring to show over the shortened course. They were able to clear the first five obstacles without fault, but after completing the double combination the rails started to fall. The duo lowered the height of the next oxer, the single vertical going away from home, and the aqueduct wall, for a 12 fault score in 46.00 seconds and the third place ribbon.

Next to compete in the jump-off was Welles and Armani, and Welles knew the pair had to complete a good effort with Leone showing next. Welles and Armani carefully made their way over the fences, gaining ground during the first sharp turn and slicing the last single oxer. The duo left all the rails in their cups and blazed through the finish line in 44.36 seconds to jump to the top of the leader board and lead tonight’s victory gallop.

The last to attempt Saturday night’s short course was Leone aboard his new mount Select. The pair maneuvered their way easily over each fence with Select tightly tucking his legs and carefully avoiding any faults. They raced to the final fence and tripped the timers at 44.87 seconds. Leone and Select were just 5/10ths behind Welles, and their double-clear effort earned them the second place prize.

Saturday night marked the 37th anniversary of the American Invitational, and all of the riders were excited to be a part of the unique event. “G & C Farm was wonderful to step up and support this class because it is the last special class we have in our country,” said Leone. “This class has always been on the tour and it is very demanding.”

Cone added, “Venues like this are special places and that is what really makes the sport. Gene [Mische] is a big part of how strong the US has come in show jumping worldwide. He was the one who started it all.”

Welles continued, “It was nice to see Gene Mische here tonight. He has done so much for our sport over the years. He has given so much and it was really nice for him to be recognized tonight.”

For more information about the 2010 $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm or the Tampa Equestrian Festival please visit

Jumper Highlights: Tuesday through Friday

It was another beautiful day as the second week of competition, the Tournament of Champions, got underway at the Tampa Equestrian Festival. Beezie Madden stole the show when she completed two double clear efforts with her top mounts Coral Reef Via Volo and Zhivago during the 1.40m and 1.30m jumper classes. The top riders in the country came to the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds to compete during this final week of competition.

Margie Engle and Hidden Creek’s Lonesome Boy were the first to complete a fault-free attempt over the first round and advance to the short course. The pair easily made it over all the obstacles, leaving all the rails in their cups and stopping the clock at 36.509. Their excellent effort would hold up for the third place award.

Beezie Madden was the next rider to show over the first round course with Coral Reef Via Volo. The pair had an excellent round and easily advanced to the shortened second course. Madden pushed Coral Reef Via Volo into a fast gallop and they easily cleared the first fences. The duo then made a quick turn to the purple vertical, slicing the obstacle and making a sharp right turn to the double combination. They galloped through the timers in 33.416 seconds with zero faults, creating a lead no one else would be able to catch.

The next combination to attempt the jump-off round was Daniel Bluman with Fatilis Fatum. The pair also made a sharp turn to the purple vertical as they tried to catch Madden’s time, but they crossed the finish line in 33.709 seconds to earn the second place award.

Earlier on that Tuesday, Madden had her first blue ribbon ride aboard Zhivago during the 1.30m jumper class. Three riders had double clear efforts over the short course, the first of which was Leslie Howard with Goedzo. The pair easily cleared all of the obstacles in each round and broke the beam at 37.906 seconds for the third place ribbon.

Madden was next to tackle the jump-off with Zhivago. The pair was fast and accurate, stopping the clock at 35.116 seconds with zero faults. Peter Leone tried to catch the pair’s time with Pastis De Paliere, but their double clear effort in 36.074 seconds would earn the second place award while Madden took home the winning title.

The shinning star during Wednesday’s $30,000 Grand Prix of Tampa was Venezuelan Pablo Barrios aboard his top mount G & C Quick Star. The pair raced to the top of the leader board after completing a double clear effort in a time of 35.95 seconds. Wednesday’s competition marked the second day of the Tournament of Champions at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Leslie Howard and Raimond W were the first ones on course during the opening round. The pair successfully left all the rails in their cups to advance to the jump-off. Howard and Raimond W easily cleared all the obstacles and stopped the clock at 39.08 seconds, which would hold up for the fourth place award. Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo, owned by Coral Reef Ranch, were next on course and they also left all the fences standing. The pair’s time of 38.04 seconds would beat Howards and eventually earn them the second place ribbon.

Margie Engle was next to attempt the shortened course with the winner of last week’s Welcome Stake, Hidden Creek’s Pamina L, owned by Hidden Creek Farm. They were able to beat Madden’s time, but as they made their way to the finish line they took the top rail off one of the verticals. The duo had a four-fault total in a time of 36.39 seconds to garner the sixth place prize.

The time was shortened again when Pablo Barrios showed his first mount, G & C Sinatra, owned by Pablo Barrios and Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal, over the jump-off course. They also had an unfortunate rail at one of the tall verticals for four faults, breaking the beam at 35.47 seconds to take home the fifth place honors. Engle tried to master the jump-off round again with her second mount, Indigo, owned by Gladewinds Farm. The pair accrued four faults when they lowered the height of the oxer with the small liverpool. They stopped the clock in 41.68 seconds and earned the seventh place ribbon.

Barrios was next on course with his second mount G & C Quick Star, owned by G & C Farm and Gustavo and Carolina. The pair picked up a fast pace to the first fence and soared over the obstacle. They chose a quick track and were able to leave all the fences standing as they blazed across the finish line in 35.95 seconds to win Wednesday’s blue ribbon.

Canadian Hugh Graham rode King Ridge Stable’s Fifth Estate 3E to the eighth place prize when they brought down rails at the first fence and the “B” portion of the double combination.

The final rider on course was also the youngest. Michael Murphy who was determined to be in the top of the field with Katina 12. The young rider was proficient as he piloted his mount to each obstacle, leaving all the rails in their cup. They tripped the timer at 38.60 seconds, just 6/10ths of a second behind Madden, and received the third place honors, sealing Barrios’ victory.

“I tried to bring my two fast horses, I thought it would be a fast jump-off and that is why I picked these two,” noted Barrios about G & C Sinatra and G & C Quick Star. “Sinatra is really good indoors and he had the faster time, but unfortunately I had a rail down.”

Barrios continued, “Then I tried to go in the class with Quick Star who has been very quick this year. I knew she could win going at the end of the class as long as I had a nice track.”

Thursday at the Tampa Equestrian Festival the best junior and amateur-owner riders competed for top prizes during the High Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper class and the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner class. Shawn Casady rode First Lady to a stunning double clear victory during the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class, after Bryn Rose Sadler was named the winner of the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class with Madagascar.

Michael Murphy was the first to show over the course and qualify for the jump-off with All Star, owned by Centennial Farm. The pair was able to leave all the fences standing, but the duo lost some time when they had difficulty with the inside turn to the double combination. Murphy and All Star stopped the clock at 42.09 seconds, which earned them the third place ribbon.

Shawn Casady and First Lady, owned by Elizabeth Towell Boyd, were next to tackle the short course. The pair picked up a fast gallop to the first fence and easily covered the ground. They chose not to make the inside turn, but with zero faults they crossed the finish line in 39.67 seconds to win the class. Darby Toben and Doreen Toben’s Princeton also completed a double clear effort, but their time of 40.20 seconds would not catch Casady, and they took home the second place prize.

Earlier in the day on that Thursday the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers completed their first day of competition. Three riders were able to complete double-clear efforts, and the first was the first on course. Darby Toben easily cleared all the obstacles with Cenzington 002, owned by Doreen Toben. They were able to stop the clock in 42.263 seconds for the second place prize. Hasbrouck Donovan rode Delilah to a clear effort during the short course, but the duo was unable to catch Toben’s time and earned the third place honors.

Bryn Rose Sadler was the final rider to complete two fault-free rounds with Madagascar. The pair had a quick pace over all the fences during the jump-off. As they left each fence in tact they were able to cross the finish line in 35.503 seconds and earn the day’s blue ribbon.

Friday 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. Friday’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.

Kaley Pratt and Shane, owned by Hillary Simpson managed to spring over each fence during the jump-off and leave all 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.

The Children’s Jumper class was the last to compete in the Covered Arena on Friday. 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.

Hunter Highlights: Wednesday through Saturday

Wednesday was a beautiful day as the professional hunter divisions wrapped up their second day of competition in the Main Hunter Ring at the Tournament of Champions in Tampa, FL. Once again the Stadium Jumping team hosted a wonderful horse show at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Dominating the Green Conformation Hunter division was Molly Sewell and Marquis, who took home five blue ribbons. Landing the reserve championship ribbon for the Green Conformation Hunters was Mary Lisa Leffler and Just Dessert, owned by Stephanie Wallace. Earning the championship rosette in the Regular Working Hunter division was Amanda Steege and Endo Fino, while Mary Eufemia and Paula Pell’s horse Unbelievable attained the reserve championship prize.

Molly Sewell and Marquis added Wednesday’s blue ribbons in the Green Conformation Hunter over fences class and the Green Conformation hunter stake class, to Tuesday’s wins including the Green Conformation model, the Green Conformation Hunter over fences class, and the Green Conformation handy hunter class. Sewell rode the eight-year-old gelding Marquis for owner Lee Cesery of Jacksonville, FL.

The duo has been working together in the Green Conformation Hunters throughout this year. Their list of accomplishments includes the 2010 Green Conformation Hunter Circuit Championship at the Jacksonville horse show in February. Sewell explained, “Marquis is a horse that is a little forward, has plenty of scope, and plenty of stride. He also has a beautiful jump so if you place him within range of the jump he always fires and jumps really well.”

Winning the championship ribbon in the Regular Working Hunter division was top trainer Amanda Steege and Endo Fino, owned by Lisa Arena. The pair insured the championship prize with two first place ribbons in Tuesday’s over fences class and handy hunter class, as well as a blue in Wednesday’s over fences class, and a second place in the hunter stake class

Endo Fino and Steege just recently began showing together in the Regular Working Hunters. She noted, “ I was very happy how Fish went. We have not shown in the Regular Working Hunters often but Fish is doing so well. Each class he seemed to become more relaxed, and would jump higher and loftier. That type of ride is a good feeling as a rider. Fish is a great horse to ride because he has a soft and sensitive mouth and does not require any additional aids such as spurs. When he is in the class he definitely looks for the jumps. I always feel him helping me when I turn the corner as if to look to where he needs to go. For the most part I try to stay soft so I do not interfere with him. I just think about staying straight and trying to keep one nice smooth pace.”

Riders brought forth their finest efforts in the equitation classes at the Tampa Equestrian Festival’s Tournament of Champions held at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Earning the top accolade in the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship class was Michael Murphy aboard Winnetou. Testing Robert McCune’s equitation course to first place in the Pessoa USEF Hunt Seat Medal was Shawn Casady riding Eastwood.

These outstanding riders exchanged placings in the equitation classes when Murphy won the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship, while Casady rode into second place. Then, Casady earned the blue ribbon in the Pessoa USEF Hunt Seat Medal class and Murphy took home the second place prize.

Murphy has been riding Winnetou for approximately two weeks, since his prior equitation horse had sold. Elizabeth Patz, who also shows at Murphy family’s facility, owns Winnetou. “I am still figuring this horse out a little bit,” remarked Murphy. “He sometimes gets a little bunched up and compressed so I try to allow him to be soft. He is definitely learning to open up and not stay so tight.”

Murphy recently learned that he has been selected for the USEF 2010 Show Jumping Young Rider Tour in Europe. He is excited for this prestigious honor and important opportunity. In May, Murphy will begin his tour in Eindhoven, Netherlands with two of his top mounts before the North American Junior Young Riders Championships competition at the Kentucky Horse Park this summer.

Shawn Casady proved his talent in the Pessoa USEF Hunt Seat Medal Class on Thursday. The top four riders were brought back for the equitation test including; Emma Kennedy on Lucky Jack, Molly Braswell on El Campeon’s Danish, Shawn Casady on Eastwood, and Michael Murphy on Winnetou. The test consisted of entering the ring at a canter to a vertical followed by halting after the fence. Then, each pair had to pick up their left lead and canter a single to an oxer in-and-out, followed by a sharp left hand turn to a line. Finally, each team finished with picking up the counter canter on a left hand turn to a single vertical, leaving the ring at a walk.

The rain disappeared and the sun broke through the clouds as the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions commenced Friday during the Tournament of Champions at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The Main Hunter Ring hosted the top Amateur-Owner riders as they competed for the championship ribbons in their respective divisions during the Tampa Equestrian Festival. In the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter division, Endo Fino with Lisa Arena in the irons earned the championship engraved bag and ribbon. In the Amateur-Owner Hunter division Robin Swinderman and her mount Inxs received the championship rosette.

Lisa Arena and Endo Fino secured the championship ribbon with multiple blue ribbons; including Thursday’s over fences class, handy hunter class, and Friday’s stake class. Adding to their blue ribbons was a second in Friday’s over fences and a fourth in the Amateur-Owner hunter under saddle class.

Arena was happy with Endo Fino’s performance throughout the Tournament of Champions. Earlier this week, Endo Fino and trainer Amanda Steege won the championship ribbon in the Regular Working Hunters on Wednesday.

Arena and Endo Fino have been a pair since the 2008 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Before Arena owned the 12-year-old Warmblood, she had been riding Throughbreds. “When I began shopping for a horse I could not ride the one side of a Warmblood,” she laughed. “I asked my trainer Amanda what she was planning for me and then Fish was found. Amanda knew about Fish’s style and personality and she really loved him and thought he would be perfect for me. He is truly a horse of a lifetime and I am so lucky to own him. They just don’t make horses like him.”

Prior to the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Division the Amateur-Owner Hunter division championship was presented to Robin Swinderman and Inxs.

To achieve their success, Swinderman and Inxs were very consistent in the Main Hunter ring. The duo almost swept the division, taking home four first place ribbons.

It was the duos first time at the Tampa Equestrian Festival. Swinderman and Inxs were circuit champions at the 2010 Hits Ocala horse show and also did well at the Jacksonville horse show. “I really enjoyed the courses Friday at Tampa,” she said. “They were very fun to ride and definitely used the entire ring. I also enjoyed being here because it is such a nice town with great restaurants, has the Hard Rock, and Cavalia is even here.”

Saturday was the last day of hunter competition in the Main Hunter Ring at the Tournament of Champions. The junior hunter divisions concluded during the Tampa Equestrian Festival at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center held at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Winning the Small Junior Hunter division was Taylor Ann Adams and Ann Garnett’s horse Raquel. Following for the reserve champion ribbon was Ashley Foster and her horse Sam Adams. As the day came to a close Hannah Holik won both champion and reserve champion ribbons in the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunters with Tache Rouge and Dominick. Finishing the Junior Hunter divisions was Taylor Ann Adams winning a second championship rosette in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters with Samantha Schaefer and Garfield following for the reserve championship tricolor.

Raquel and Taylor Ann Adams obtained the championship ribbon in the Small Junior Hunters with blue ribbons in the under saddle class and both over fences classes. The duo also earned a second place ribbon in the stake class and a third place ribbon in the handy hunter class.

Adams continued her strong performance in the covered arena during the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. Adams rode her exceptional equitation horse Kassandra. Adams said, “I enjoy the hunter classes but the equitation competition is really my thing. I have a great equitation horse. She is a very versatile horse and even won the Children’s Hunters on Friday. She is another horse that can go in any ring on any day and perform well.”

Winning the reserve championship rosette in the Small Junior Hunters was Ashley Foster and Sam Adams with a first place ribbon in the handy hunter class and stake class, and a second place ribbon in Friday’s over fences class.

Hannah Holik dominated the championship and reserve championships in the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunter division. She won the championship ribbon with her horse Dominick, and the reserve champion ribbon with Czech Mate LLC’s Tache Rouge.

Dominick and Holik won the championship rosette with a first place ribbon in Saturday’s over fences class, a second place ribbon in the handy hunter class and the stake class, and a third place ribbon in the under saddle class. Tache Rouge and Holik earned the reserve champion tricolor with a first place ribbon in the under saddle and the over fences class, followed by a fourth place in Saturday’s over fences class.

Lastly, the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters concluded with Taylor Ann Adams capturing another championship ribbon on Linnea Carver’s horse Black Tie Affair while Samantha Schaefer and Garfield were awarded the reserve championship ribbon.


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