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Morgan Ward finished first and second in the NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner aboard Rustic Gold and Comissario (pictured), respectively. Photo by: Emily Riden. Photograph may only be used in relation to this PMG press release.

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Final Day of Tampa Equestrian Series Concludes with One-Two Jumper Finish for Morgan Ward

Written by: Emily Riden
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG) http://www.stadiumjumping.com/sj/index.cfm
Release Date: 2013-04-06

Tampa, FL – April 6, 2013 – Two weeks of dynamic jumper competition at the Tampa Equestrian Series and the final day of the Tournament of Champions came to an exciting finish today for young rider Morgan Ward. She blazed through the courses of the $2,500 North American League (NAL) Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, sponsored by Signature Spurs, to ride away with both the first and second place awards in what proved to be a heated race to the finish.

Ward was one of 13 riders who delivered a clear round in the time allowed over the first Jose Gamarra designed course in the Covered Arena of the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center. As riders returned to try their hand at the six-obstacle jump-off course, the competition cranked up a notch.

The short course opened over an oxer off of the left lead and then a short, fast bending line brought riders to a vertical. From there, the course required a tight rollback to the left over an oxer-vertical double combination along the rail, onward to a longer approach vertical across the diagonal of the ring. The 34-second time allowed course then concluded over a final oxer before riders dashed through the timers.

Erin Haas was the first to turn in a double-clear effort, finishing in 25.916 seconds aboard her mount UDO DV, owned by 2VR Showjumpers. Haas’ pace appeared fast, so when Mackenzie McGehee and Dexter delivered a clean round and zoomed through the sensors in 25.543 seconds she was met with loud, excited cheers.

It seemed McGehee was positioned to hold the lead, but just 24.420 short seconds later Ward and Rustic Gold followed up McGehee with a new fastest clear time taking over the spot atop the leader board.

“I really didn’t feel like I was going that fast, but apparently I was!” Ward joked. “When I came off jump one I just went for it. That wasn’t our plan to go that fast either. Emil [Spadone] said to go nice and careful.”

Ward’s lead aboard Rustic Gold would remain untouched, only being challenged as Ward herself returned on her second mount, Comissario. It was Ward’s very first time competing Rustic Gold in the Low Junior/Amateur-Owners, so following her successful round with him she felt confident she could turn in an equally solid round with Comissario, and that she did.

Ward once again made the course look effortless, finishing in a time of 24.768 seconds to take over the second place position in addition to her already secured blue ribbon spot.

“I just wanted to go first and second, and that’s what I got,” Ward said of her plan going in to her second jump-off ride. “They were both great horses, very speedy and very careful.”

KC Van Aarem rode to the third place position aboard her own mount Mastermind, and McGehee’s time aboard Dexter, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, secured her the fourth place rank.

In the $7,500 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHF) High Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic, it was Melissa Rudershausen who gunned through the timers with lightning speed.

The Kennett Square, Pennsylvania-native, was one of nine to return to be tested over the same jump-off course, designed by Gamarra, that was utilized in the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic.

Alex Parrish led the way with a jump-off time of 26.824 seconds until Rudershausen and her mount, Gunner, returned to go double clear in a quick 26.034 seconds. Parrish proved to be the Rudershausen’s closest competition throughout the jump-off turning in, not only the second fastest time aboard Valentina 156, but also the third place time aboard her second mount Frisco.

“I could take a little bit more of a risk with Valentina,” Parrish explained. “So I tried to be a little bit faster on her. Then on Frisco, I just tried to be as smooth as possible and not touch the reins. He likes to babysit me. I just have to find the distances and be confident, and he likes to take me around.”

Parrish teaches fourth-grade in Tampa, so the series is always a must on her show circuit calendar.

“I’m so thankful to David Jennings and Full Circle Farm because they keep my horses going while I’m teaching five days a week. We’ve been coming here for several years, and I just love this horse show,” Parrish concluded. 

The Tampa Equestrian Series’ comes to an exhilarating grand finale tonight at the 41st Annual $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational, presented by G&C Farm. The “Super Bowl of show jumping” will be held tonight under the lights of the Raymond James Stadium.

For more information on the Tampa Equestrian Series, Stadium Jumping and the American Invitational, please visit www.StadiumJumping.com.

 

 

 

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