Articles: Press Release
Tampa Equestrian Festival Week 3 Wrap-up, March 31-April 4, 2009,
Tournament of Champions
Rebecca Walton & Laurne Fisherfor
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at email@example.com
Tampa, FL - April 7, 2009 - It was a difficult course testing the horses'
power and endurance that set the stage for Saturday night's $200,000
Budweiser American Invitational, where no horse and rider combinations were
able to complete a faultless first round. A seven horse jump-off took place
between the four-faulters in which Chris Kappler and VDL Oranta captured the
gold medal and led the night's victory gallop.
This was Kappler's third time winning this prestigious class, which has only
been done by two other riders, Rodney Jenkins and Katie Prudent. In 1995
Kappler rode Seven Wonder and produced the only clear round to earn the win,
and in 2003 he rode his Olympic mount Royal Kaliber during the victory
"Steve Stephens is an excellent builder; he always builds an Olympic caliber
track and it just proved to be a difficult course," explained Kappler. "The
oxer-oxer was scopey, he had a tricky combination for the last line coming
home, and it was a long course."
Kappler and VDL Oranta, owned by M & K Oranta, LLC, gathered four faults
during their first round when they lowered the height of the oxer coming out
of the liverpool double combination.
Kappler and VDL Oranta were ready to win as they took to the jump-off
course. Kappler knew he would have to be clear to beat Minikus, and Ward and
Sapphire were behind him in the order to put on the pressure. The pair was
successful though and left all the fences standing, creating the second
clear jump-off round of the night. Kappler made sharp, precise turns and VDL
Oranta's large stride carried the pair through the finish line in 43.95
seconds, taking over the lead and garnering the gold medal.
Kappler summed up the night by noting the importance of the American
Invitational. "This is one of my favorite competitions," he said. "I'd like
to thank Gene Mische for continuing to run this fabulous event, it's really
one of the best events in America. If you look at the list of horses and
riders that have won this class it's a pretty special group."
Kappler was already a part of that list, but now he will join an even more
elite group of riders who have been able to earn the title three times and
have gone on to be icons of the show jumping sport.
For more information please visit www.stadiumjumping.com.
Jumper Highlights: Tuesday through Friday
In the Covered Arena Tuesday's top prize was awarded to Mario Deslauriers
after his wire-to-wire victory aboard Tigger in the 1.40m class.
Deslauriers and Tigger were the first to enter the ring for the 1.40m class
and the pair were able to successfully complete a fault-free first
round. They then moved on to the short course where they were also
fault-free in a very quick 33.745 seconds. That time would hold up through
eight more jump-off rounds to be the fastest of the day and win the class.
"Tigger has been in good form the last two weeks here," noted
Deslauriers. "The plan is always to try to go as fast as we can leaving the
jumps up. He jumped great today; there were a few difficult turns out there
and he did them very well. I was very pleased with him; first one in and
first place, so that was great."
"I knew I put the pressure on, the pace was good and when I hit everything
with Tigger he's usually pretty quick," smiled Deslauriers. "I knew he was
going to be a little demanding; the other rider would have to go to catch my
time, so I was happy with it."
Next to compete in the Covered Arena on Tuesday was the 1.45m class where
Yvonne Bryan and Palm Sunday emerged victorious after being only one of two
riders to advance to the jump-off. "I wanted to have a nice solid round,"
explained Bryan. " During the jump-off I just wanted go slow and give the
horse confidence because he's pretty young; he hasn't done a lot of this
size jumping. So that was the plan, just nice and steady and slow and even
to give him confidence."
Eight riders were able to complete a clear first round effort and advance to
the short course on Wednesday during the $35,000 Grand Prix of Florida, but
it was Rebecca Johanson Hofmann and Corona, owned by Blue Hill Farm LLC,
that lead the victory gallop after their stunning clear jump-off ride.
"I feel really happy," smiled Hofmann. "I was really hesitant about staying
today and doing the class. I kind of made a last minute decision to stay and
I'm really happy, my horse jumped great. This is only my second grand prix
Hofmann knew that to win the class she would have to be clear and beat
Margie Engle's time, and that is just what she did. Hofmann and Corona took
the inside turn and left all the fences standing, to race through the finish
line in 42.02 seconds and take over the lead.
"A lot of the riders were doing five strides from the first fence to the
second fence, but I held her back for the six," noted Hofmann. "Doing the
six that allowed my turn back to fence four to be just little bit nicer and
I still had her on her hind-end so I didn't have to worry too much about her
hitting it in front. After that there were a few places you could gallop and
I wanted to gallop where I could gallop and make my turn-backs smooth. There
was an option where you could do a real forward seven or a regular eight to
the last fence and I chose to do the eight to be a little bit careful there
but it really paid off in the end."
"Corona is a superstar; I've come a long way with her from when I first got
her. that I know her 100% and she knows me 100%," Hofmann said. "When I make
mistakes she covers up my mistakes and when she makes mistakes, which isn't
very often, I try to help her out. I just think her and I make a really good
team, and I think what she lacks in scope, she makes up in heart."
Thursday riders had the opportunity to compete in the Covered Arena at the
Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, located on the Florida State Fairgrounds, in
the 1.40m class. McLain Ward garnered the top prize with Gentlemen after his
speedy jump-off round.
Ward entered the ring next with his second mount, Gentlemen, and he knew
what he had to do to win. The pair was quick and clean, and managed to leave
all the fences standing despite a few rubs, and they raced through the
finish line in 27.849 seconds to take over the lead.
"This was Gentlemen's last class of the circuit, so I was happy that he went
so well today," smiled Ward. " There were a couple of hard right turns, but
this horse has experience and he felt very confident after the first round,
so I thought I would take a try and it worked out in our favor. We had a
little bit of a lucky rub at the last fence in the jump-off but you need a
little luck in this sport." Gentlemen will now return home to rest after a
long winter circuit.
The top competitor on Friday was Marque Cincotta and Chappie in the
Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper Low class where they took home the blue ribbon.
Cincotta and Chappie were one of only two entries to complete the first
round of the Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper Low class fault-free and advance to
the jump-off. The day's first round course included a liverpool, a double
combination, and a triple combination. The faults were widely distributed
throughout the course but the most difficult fence was the first vertical of
the triple combination.
Jordan Coyne and Calisto were the first horse and rider combination to leave
all the fences standing after their first round. The pair advanced to the
jump-off and completed another clear round, stopping the clock in 36.654
seconds and moving to the top of the scoreboard.
Coyne's lead was short lived as Cincotta and Chappie stepped into the ring
next, also completing a clear first round and moving on to the short
course. Cincotta and Chappie made tight turns and galloped around the course
while still managing to leave all the rails in their cups. The duo raced
through the finish line in 30.456 seconds, six seconds ahead of Coyne to win
"My plan was to stay forward through the whole course," explained
Cincotta. "Michel Vaillancourt likes to build scopey, so everything has to
be a little bit out of stride. I had a good horse that does all of that
well, forward, scopey, wide, so it was definitely his course."
Hunter Highlights: Wednesday through Saturday
The Green Working Hunters competed in the Main Hunter Ring first thing
Wednesday morning and were awarded their division championship after two
days of competition. For the second week in a row, Kate Conover rode Like
Wize to the Green Working Hunter division championship. Ambition, ridden by
Robin Fairclough took home the reserve championship tricolor.
Ambition is five years old and is owned by junior rider Bailey Hughes who
purchased the young horse from Emil Spadone at the beginning of the Ocala
circuit. Ambition showed in the First Year Green Hunters with Fairclough and
the Large Junior Hunters with Hughes at Ocala and did very well.
"He is just lazy, very uncomplicated and a pleasure to have around,"
Fairclough stated. "He was absolutely perfect today; he got a little tired
in the second class, but he requires no preparation. We basically hand walk
him in the morning and that is it, so he is great."
Ambition's owner, Bailey Hughes is from Clark Summit, PA, and trains with
Robin Fairclough. "I just love everything about him," Hughes said after her
horse's win. "He was the first horse I tried at Emil's and I just fell in
love with him right away, he is perfect. He has a great personality and he
is super friendly; he loves everyone and everything."
The Ariat National Adult Medal was the first equitation class to compete in
the Main Hunter Ring Thursday morning with the victory going to Charlene
Graham and her brand new horse, Only You.
The entries in Thursday's Ariat National Adult Medal showed over fences and
then the riders who received the top four scores from the first round got
the opportunity to advance to the test round. After the first over fences
round, the top four were Michael Desiderio with a score of 85.000, Charlene
Graham with a score of 78.000, Marissa Marchena with a score of 74.000, and
Courtney Rodrigue with a score of 72.000.
After all four riders had tested the class was pinned with Charlene Graham
taking the blue ribbon and first place honors aboard her horse Only
You. Marissa Marchena and her horse Winchester G placed second. Michael
Desiderio placed third riding Mirkwood, owned by Markena Cummings, and
fourth place honors went to Courtney Rodrigue showing Role Model.
Thursday's winner, Charlene Graham, is from Rochester, NY, and trains with
Amanda Steege at Ashmeadow Farm, based out of Far Hills, NJ and Ocala,
FL. This was only Graham's second time showing Only You since her boyfriend
surprised her by purchasing the horse just last week.
"My boyfriend bought her for me last week and she was such a great
surprise," Graham smiled. "This was my second Ariat class that I have ever
done on her and she was great. The test was so much fun because there were a
lot of twists and turns and she was just terrific."
Ellen Toon competed in the week three Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division
with her horses Attachand Invincible Friday afternoon. Toon took home both
the championship and reserve championship tricolors with her talented horses
after the two days of competition.
"They were a little fresh yesterday," Toon explained. "They were in such a
rhythm in Palm Beach week after week and I think that we got a little
lackadaisical, but this is a new place. Today they were a little quieter and
they were perfect, so I was very happy."
Toon praised both horses for their consistency. "Attache always has energy,
but good energy," she said. "He knows his job and he is a really great horse
to ride. Invincible is always so good and he just keeps getting better and
The younger Amateur-Owner Hunters 18-35 also competed Friday afternoon with
Marianna Bishop Wade winning the championship tricolor with her horse
Bishonen. Megan McGuire and Abel won the reserve championship.
Marianna Bishop Wade is from Charlottesville, VA and has owned eight
year-old Bishonen for three years. Wade has showed Bishonen during the last
two weeks of competition in Tampa and is very pleased with how the show has
"He has been really good," Wade smiled. "It was a little windy one day last
week and he was a little up, but he has been great. He is very slow, but he
is so sweet and he has a lot of personality. He was so good in the mud
today; he loves it, he doesn't care at all."
The first to compete in the Main Hunter Ring Saturday morning was the Small
Junior Hunter 15 and Under division, which awarded its week three
championship honors to Ferngully, owned by Don Stewart, Jr. and ridden by
Taylor Ann Adams
Adams and Ferngully scored in the 80's Friday and scored a very high 88 and
90 in Saturday's classes over fences. Their score of 90 in the stake class
was the highest score of all three weeks of competition in Tampa, which is a
very impressive feat among the talented horses and riders that have been
"Ferngully is one of the best Junior Hunters that we have had in a long
time," said owner, Don Stewart, Jr. of Ocala, FL. "He is only six years old
and he is just an amazing horse."
Following close behind Ferngully in this week's Small Junior Hunter 15 and
Under division was Lariet, owned by Lauren Moyer and ridden by Ashley
Foster. Lariet and Foster placed first and fifth over fences Friday, were
second in Saturday's under saddle, and third and fifth over fences to garner
the reserve championship tricolor for week three.
The Large Junior Hunters 15 and Under also competed for championship honors
Saturday morning to conclude their three weeks of competition in Tampa. The
division's week three champion was Garfield, ridden by Samantha Schaefer and
the reserve champion was Titletown, ridden by Hasbrouck Donovan.