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Tampa Bay Classic Wrap-Up, April 2-6, 2013

Written by: Kendall Bierer
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2013-04-09

Tampa, FL- April 9, 2013 - For over four decades Raymond James Stadium has been home to the jewel of show jumping, the $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational, presented by G&C Farm. The class has made history as a tradition and landmark of the showjumping world, and Saturday night was no exception. It was a cliff-hanging night as spectators looked on to the stadium turf, but it was with speed and accuracy that McLain Ward was able to emerge victorious as one of the few riders in history to ever capture three American Invitational victories.


Ward piloted Rothchild to a double-clear effort during a two-horse jump-off. They sped through the finish line in 42.10 seconds after completing a clear short course, while Reed Kessler and Mika captured the second place prize. Sharn Wordley and Derly Chin de Muze were the third place finishers for the evening, taking the honors with only one time fault added to their otherwise fautless first round effort.


Eighteen-year-old Olympian Reed Kessler and her own Mika were the fourth on the course, and the first to post a clear effort as she showed their mastership of the opening track. The crowd erupted in applause as she made it through the triple combination, and easily soared over the final daunting brownstone oxer.


Ten rounds later, McLain Ward guaranteed a jump-off for the 41st edition of the American Invitational. Ward guided Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farm, through the finish in 84.91 seconds, without incurring any jumping faults. With a jump-off eminent, the stakes were high as riders continued to navigate the first round course within the tight time allowed of 89 seconds. Sharn Wordley of New Zealand almost added his name to the list for the jump-off; however, a single time fault on top of his clear jumping effort sealed his fate in the third position.


Kessler and Ward went head-to-head in the jump-off as the 2012 Olympic teammates competed for the coveted title of champion. This was the smallest jump-off field in the history of the American Invitational, welcoming only two riders to return to the field.


It was Kessler who entered the ring as the first to return, and hopes were high as they took each fence with a careful approach. Kessler focused on laying down a tidy and clean round for Ward to chase, but her time of 43.37 seconds would prove too conservative against the past winner, leaving the door open for Ward to take the lead should he leave the rails in their cups.


It had been five years since Ward had taken the victory at the 2008 American Invitational with his beloved Sapphire. Aboard Rothchild, Ward was able to mirror his win and move him through the course with a firm pace.


“For me every horse is in the shadow of Sapphire really—I miss her very much. But he’s been a great horse for me. I’ve had him since he was 7. He’s an everyday competitor—speed class, American Invitational, GCT Grand Prix, Nations Cup—He’s very quietly amassed quite a record,” Ward stated. “It’s not textbook, but he’s a fighter and in the end he’s become a very good friend of mine. He gives me everything he has to give me. He can kind of do everything, which is a rarity in today’s sport. I think it’s horses like that, that when you have a horse like Sapphire, make them even greater because it allows you to do exactly what you want, but this horse is really the blue-collar worker. But the blue-collar worker won one for the team today.”


Ward earmarked a page in history for the 2013 American Invitational, becoming the only the third rider to ever take home three victories in Tampa. Ward’s thirst for the first place was evident as he took on the short track, leaving out strides in key areas to top Kessler’s score by more than a second. It was Rothchild’s time to shine under the lights, and the pair stepped up for the challenge.


Jumper Highlights (April 2-6):


The first day of the Tournament of Champions got underway at the Bob Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds last Tuesday morning. It was Tommy Feigel who rode to the top of the leader board on the first day, piloting Jennifer Jones’ Cliff II to the victory in the 1.35m Open Jumper class.


Tommy Feigel and Cliff II were the only pair to master the first round course, providing a clear effort well within the time allowed of 81 seconds. Feigel was the second to enter the ring, and having already navigated the track aboard Cliff II in the 1.30m Open Jumpers, he expertly guided the gelding over the first oxer, and continued through the course very carefully, leaving all fences intact. Going immediately into the jump-off, Feigel repeated his 1.30m effort, navigating the short track with an assertive approach as he raced against the timer. Cliff II rose to the occasion, clearing all the obstacles with ease and finishing in a speedy 33.421 seconds.


Aaron Vale rode to the second place honors with the fastest of the four-fault efforts aboard Red Lady, owned by Kelsey Bayley of Simsbury, CT. They had one unlucky rail during the first round, finishing in 74.146 seconds.


It was Aaron Vale’s day to shine aboard two new mounts, first showcasing Cargano’s talents in the 1.30m Open Jumpers. Vale climbed to the top of the ranks first clearing the opening course in 76.156 seconds, and then speeding to victory in the jump-off. He had watched previous pathfinder David Jennings and Colina, owned by Lionsway Farm of Franklin, TN, who rode to a double-clear effort in 32.532 seconds. Vale had also studied Gamarra’s course, and saw the opportunity to shave off the seconds after the opening oxer of the jump-off. Upon landing, he made a sharp left rollback to the second oxer, setting a pace that no other riders could match. His blazing speed stopped the clock in an amazing 30.144 seconds.


Vale wore a target on his back for his double-clear effort, with each consecutive rider attempting to mimic his success. Feigel posted a double-clear effort with Cliff II, but his time of 33.697 seconds would eventually earn the pair the third place, with Jennings collecting the third place award for his efforts.


Aboard Spirit of Alena, Vale turned in his second victory of the day in the last class, the 1.40m Open Jumpers. Vale had previously ridden Red Lady to a clean effort in the first round, but had earned eight faults toward the end of the short course. No other rider was able to master the first track, until he returned upon Spirit of Alena as the last pair to tackle the track. Vale guided Spirit of Alena to the only double-clear effort of the class, riding to a one-two finish in a time of 41.587 seconds. Although Maisie McSwain and Chanel laid down a beautiful first round course, the final rail fell to seal their third place finish with the fastest of the four-faulters.


The 1.30m Open Jumpers was the first class of the day on Wednesday, and seven riders were able to master the opening track to move into the jump-off. Only four of the seven were able to navigate the short track without fault. David Jennings and Lucilla, owned by Cory Olson Miami Beach, FL, were the first pair to take their turn at the shortened course, completing with a double-clear effort in 36.668 seconds. Vale easily piloted Spirit of Alena, owned by Campos & Miranda Investments of Ocala, FL, to a clear first round. He immediately moved into the jump-off, knocking Jennings out of the lead, duplicating his clear effort and riding to a clean finish in 35.683 seconds.


Jennings time of 36.668 seconds with Lucilla held strong enough for the third place award. Adrienne Iverson and Lavito, owned by Redfield Farm, were the next to post a double-clear effort, but their time proved conservative in comparison to Vale, eventually taking the fourth place finish. She tried to mirror her efforts aboard Galinna 177, owned by Redfield Farm of Califon, NJ, but four faults in 36.230 seconds would seal their fifth place finish as the fastest four-faulter. Vale returned aboard Cargano, making it into the jump-off, but completing it with a four-fault total to round out the top six.


It was Vale’s third entry of the class that proved the quickest. Vale opted for the five down the opening vertical-oxer line of the jump-off, slicing the seconds as he rode Torino Q, owned by Rae Kennedy of Orlando, FL, to the blue ribbon win. He bested his own pace aboard Spirit of Alena to take the victory in 35.397 seconds.


Following the same track as the 1.30m Open Jumpers, riders returned to the ring to take on the 1.35m Open Jumper course. The class saw fierce competition as riders battled for the top slot, but once again Vale proved victorious, this time aboard Red Lady, owned by Kelsey Bayley of Simsbury, CT. The competitive duo was one of only two double-clear efforts, crossing the finish line in 34.498 seconds.


Alexa Adelson and her own Padie Blu Cardu took the second place honors with their more conservative double-clear effort. Adelson guided the grey gelding to the second place finish with accuracy and conservancy in mind.


It was a muddy Thursday morning as the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center welcomed numerous horses to the third day of the Tournament of Champions. Thursday saw great opposition as riders entered the ring to vie for the coveted American Invitational Welcome Stake Championship. It was Erin Haas and As Di Chupito who mastered the class, riding to the top of the standings.


Jared Petersen was the first to attempt the shortened course, masterfully navigating the open track with ease aboard Titus 2:11, owned by Derek Petersen. He picked up a strong pace with the bay and guided him through the course with care. Unfortunately, the top rail of the third obstacle rolled out of the cup, and as he tripped the timer in 39.833 seconds, he sealed his fate with four faults. Erin Haas followed Petersen into the jump-off, mimicking his efforts; however, managing to keep all rails in place. She piloted Admiral Clover to the clear track in 38.834 seconds.


Aaron Vale had his eye on the prize when he took his turn at the course. He easily navigated the opening track, clearing each fence with room to spare aboard Spirit of Alena, owned by Campos & Miranda Investments. The pair took on the jump-off with speed, expertly shaving off seconds throughout the shortened course. He blazed across the finish line in 37.364 seconds to rise to the top of the ranks and give Haas the chance to challenge him with her second mount of the class.


Haas rose to the challenge, returning to the ring with As Di Chupito, owned by North Face Farm, and threw caution to the wind as she mimicked Vale’s quick and tidy round. It was only by 3/100ths of a second, but Haas overtook Vale and rode to the blue ribbon win with her second double-clear effort of the evening in 37.039 seconds.


Beth Goodwin and Baldato rounded out the top four with the only other clear effort of the class. She picked up the reins on Baldato, riding the jump-off in a conservative fashion, crossing the finish line well within the time allowed in 41.762 seconds.


Friday morning riders were welcomed to the Covered Arena at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center to compete in the High and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers as they hid from the torrential downpour looming over the Florida State Fairgrounds. It was the fourth day of the Tournament of Champions, and it was Darby Toben and D’artagnan who shined in the $1,500 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers to capture the victory.


Darby Toben was the first rider of the morning, and her accuracy and efficiency in the power and speed class posted a target on her back as others tried to catch her unmatchable effort. Toben rode D’artagnan, owned by Doreen Toben, to a solid and flowing power round, finishing just within the time allowed of 48 seconds, leaving all rails in place as she cleared the obstacles in 47.709 seconds.


Since Toben went clear during the power phase, she immediately moved forward into the speed portion of the High Junior/Amateur-Owner class. Toben sailed through the course, finishing with the only double-clear effort of the class in 34.125 seconds.


Mallory Vale was the next rider to navigate the first round without finding fault. She piloted H & M Cisco, owned by Thinks Like a Horse of Morriston, FL, into the speed round. Although her time of 35.125 was a tick slower than Toben’s, the four-fault finish sealed her second place position. Alex Parrish and Valentina 156, owned by Lexander Farm, LLC of Midway, KY, rode to the third place finish.


The $1,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers were next on the schedule. Morgan Ward and Rustic Gold were the first to turn in a clear opening round. They laid down a quick jump-off in 33.470 seconds, but four faults would eventually earn the pair the sixth place ribbon. Erin Haas and Udo DV, owned by 2VR Show Jumpers of Morriston, FL, set the pace for the class as the fifth to take on the course.


Haas came off of an excellent win last night in the $10,000 American Invitational Stake with As Di Chupito, and mimicked her success today with Udo DV. She took on the course with confidence, posting two clear efforts and tripping the timers in 33.361 seconds. Her time held solid until fellow barn mate KC Van Aarem picked up the reins aboard High Five.


Haas was awarded the second place finish for her earlier efforts in the class, and although Lizzie Van der Walde tried to surpass Van Aarem, her more conservative short course would take the third place with Zadermus, owned by Dasilva Investments of Ann Arbor, MI.


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 on Friday 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.

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.

Morgan 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.

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.

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.


Hunter Highlights (April 2-6)


The second leg of Stadium Jumping’s Tampa Equestrian Series, the Tournament of Champions, attracts some of the top names in the hunter industry from around the country – among them, Michigan native Greg Crolick.


Crolick’s first mount, Carson, owned by Orchard Lake Farms, LLC., jumped the course with ease and came back to do the same in the handy round in the High Performance Hunter division. Crolick and Carson finished second over the first course of the High Performance behind Trendy, owned by Caroline Kellogg and shown by Kate Conover, and the pair returned to win the blue ribbon in the handy class.


Crolick returned to lead the jog in all three of the Green Working Hunter classes with Top Call Farm’s Grey Street. Grey Street’s fluent jump, movement between the fences and handiness are what won him the blue ribbon in both the first course and the handy course of the Green Hunters, and his lofty, floating stride ensured the blue ribbon in the under saddle class, making three in a row for the grey horse. 


Also earning multiple blue ribbons were Adrienne Iverson and Maximus in the Green Conformation Hunter division. Iverson and Maximus, owned and bred by Redfield Farm, were champions of the division in last week’s Tampa Bay Classic, and they are leading the way for a repeat this week with blue ribbons in both of the over fences classes.


Wednesday marked the first day of the crowning of the show’s division champions. Among the first to receive tricolors, were Greg Crolick and Grey Street who swept the Green Working Hunter division taking home all five blue ribbons.


After winning three first place ribbons Tuesday morning, Crolick and Grey Street returned to the Main Hunter Ring at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center to add two more of the top rosettes to their growing string.


The division reserve championship went to Hunt Tosh and Whiskey Blue, owned by Douglas Wheeler. The two First Year horses, Grey Street and Whiskey Blue, have both been consistently strong performers – Whiskey Blue claimed the First Year Green Hunter championship in the first week of the Tampa Equestrian Series, the Tampa Bay Classic, and Grey Street earned the reserve champion award in the same division.


Adrienne Iverson and Redfield Farm’s Maximus have also seen continued success bridging the two weeks of the Tampa Equestrian Series. The defending Green Conformation Hunter champions returned to win the honor again this week.


Finishing behind Maximus in the reserve championship position were Winn Alden and Cakebread. The pair finished first and second in the Green Conformation Hunter classes.


The day’s competition concluded in the Main Hunter Ring with the High Performance Hunters where Caroline Kellogg’s Trendy was named champion. Kate Conover and Hunt Tosh have shared the ride on Trendy throughout the Tampa Equestrian Series, but it was Tosh who had the reins, riding Trendy to the first and third place finishes over fences.


Alden returned to the ring on another mount, City of Angels, owned by DC Sales & Entertainment, to ride to her second reserve championship award of the day. Alden was introduced to ‘City’ just last week, but has enjoyed getting to know the horse. 


Dreary skies and persistent heavy rain didn’t deter hunter riders from Thursday’s classes at the Tournament of Champions. Instead, the day of bad weather simply granted riders a change of venue at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center as they moved from the traditional outdoor hunter rings, indoors to the Charlie Lykes Arena.


Under the cover of the arena, Lee Cesery bested the day’s field of Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunters aboard Swagger.  The pair finished first over the initial of the two courses designed by Robert McCune and second in the handy class.


Cesery also competed in the same division aboard her second mount, Marquis, finishing third in the first over fences class with him.


Finishing just ahead of Cesery to earn the blue ribbon in Thursday’s Amateur-Owner 35 and Over handy class were Robin Swinderman and Inxs.


In the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters, Elizabeth Degolian was leading the way in this week’s division point standings after finishing first and second in Thursday’s classes aboard her mount, Quite Simply. The two earned a blue ribbon in their handy round.


Also earning a blue ribbon in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter division were Alexis Silvernale and Bryant Park, finishing first in the division’s opening class.


Rising to the top of the Junior Hunters was Caroline Kellogg and her mount Donovan. One of three mounts that Kellogg competed with in the Junior Hunter division, Donovan, earned the highest marks and back-to-back blue ribbons in both of Friday’s Junior Hunter classes.  


The indoor, Charlie Lykes Arena, utilized because of the inclement weather, gave hunter riders at the Tournament of Champions the opportunity to familiarize their horse to a different venue and to enjoy a change of scenery.


Kellogg’s other two mounts in the division, Felicci and Zohio-S, never missed a beat, and Kellogg and Felicci finished third over the Robert McCune designed handy course. Finishing in second in both of the Junior Hunter classes were Grace Egan and Rio Mio.


Following the Junior Hunter classes, the Amateur-Owner Hunters returned to the Charlie Lykes Arena to vie for their division championships. Elizabeth Degolian came into the day atop the leaderboard with a first and a second place finish in yesterday’s classes, and she and Quite Simply held that lead through all three of the classes. The pair finished first in the handy class and third in the under saddle class before being named the division champions.


Coming in close behind to take the reserve champion tri-color were Alexis Silvernale and Bryant Park. Silvernale and Bryant Park delivered impressive performances throughout both days of competition, finishing third in the under saddle class, second in the handy and first over the first course.


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