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Beth Bidgood and Ashley Romano Garner Amateur-Owner Hunter Championships

Wayne, IL - June 7, 2009 - The 2009 Showplace Spring Spectacular concluded its first week of competition today at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL. After two days of competition, Beth Bidgood and Ashley Romano each won Amateur-Owner Hunter championships in their respective age divisions, and Shannon Kelly was awarded the blue ribbon in the $1,000 Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic.

Ashley Romano rode her horse Enjoy to the championship win in the Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division this morning with Shannon Kelly and her horse Trust Me coming in reserve. Kelly and Trust Me also won the $1,000 Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic that followed.

Division champion Ashley Romano is 19 years old and splits her time between homes in Gurney, IL, and Indianapolis, IL. Romano is currently studying chemical engineering at Purdue University, and she finds as much time as possible to ride in between classes and schoolwork. "It's pretty tough, but I make it work because riding is very important to me, and I want to keep getting better," Romano stated.

Romano bought Enjoy four months ago and explained that the mare is the first hunter that she has ever owned. "She is the best mare ever, and I am so happy we got her," she smiled. "She is six years old and she is very green, but she just keeps getting better and better at every single show. She jumps so well, she goes around like a made horse, and she has a really good heart. She has a good attitude too, and she is probably the best horse that I have ever owned."

Reserve champion and Classic winner Shannon Kelly is from Naperville, IL. Kelly is 21 years old, has been riding since she was eight, and trains with Lori Hollands as well as her aunt, Tina Judge.

"We bought Trust Me four years ago from Holland when I was a junior in high school and we were going to sell him, but he turned out to be greater than we thought, so I kept him and I stayed and went to college in Naperville so that I could keep him," Kelly explained. "He does the Regular Working Hunters and the hunter derbies with my aunt, and then the Amateurs with me."

"He is very slow; he was a little bit wild today, but usually you have to kick all the way around," Kelly laughed. "He is very brave at the jumps though, which is great, and he has tons of personality. He is definitely a barn favorite I would say. He is always in your face looking for food and biting you playfully."

Trust Me is going to do the hunter derby at this show on Tuesday and then they will take him to Colorado to do the hunter derby there, which he won last year. They also plan to qualify for the hunter derby finals, which are being held in Kentucky in August. The season will also include more shows here at the Lamplight Equestrian Center.

"My favorite thing about this show is how fancy the jumps are; it really makes them look and jump really nice," Kelly stated. "This show is kind of right in our back yard, so we come here a lot. He definitely knows this show and knows how to get back to the barn, so it is comfortable for him to be here."

The next division to award championship honors today was the Amateur-Owner Hunters 36-50, and it was Beth Bidgood of Westfield, IN, and her horse Northern Crown who won the tricolor. Pick a Color, owned and ridden by Sonya Svaty of Lake Bluff, IL, was awarded the reserve championship.

Beth Bidgood trains with the team of Tammy Provost, Ivan Rakowsky and Wendy Hofmeister. "I have been riding with Tammy forever," Bidgood laughed. "Probably 17 or 18 years. She and her mom, Wendy Newby, who recently passed away, both helped me. I started riding as a little kid and then I quit for 14 years to go to college and have babies. Then I got my kids interested in lessons, which lasted about a month. That is when I started riding again and now I am worse than ever; I am really eaten up with it."

Bidgood's horse, Northern Crown, was imported about a year and a half ago, and she knew he was the one from the moment she saw him. She bought him in December of 2007, and he is now nine years old. "When I bought him he was in Florida; they shipped him directly to Florida, and then Tammy did him in the Pre-Greens there," Bidgood explained. "I started riding him in the Amateurs in December, so it is still kind of a new relationship, but we are figuring things out. Luckily he can take a joke and he puts up with a lot, so he is a really good boy."

"He is a really different ride for me," Bidgood continued. "My last amateur horse would just drag me around, and I learned how to do that. This one is really much easier, but it has been kind of hard for me to figure that out. He is more level and it is kind of hard for me to stay with his jump because he has a really big jump. He likes to go around with a little more of a loop in the rein too, so it is a new challenge for me, but I am trying to figure it all out."

Bidgood comes to this horse show every year, and explained that she usually tries to do one more during the year as well. "I love it here," She smiled. "I love the willow trees and the atmosphere. The people are great, so we really enjoy coming here."

The Junior Hunters also completed their two days of competition this afternoon and awarded championship honors. The Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under was first to compete and Caitlin Ziegler of Mequon, WI, rode her horse Winter Place to the division's championship tricolor. Abigail McArdle of Barrington, IL, rode MVP to the reserve championship.

In the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 Margo Lyons of Inverness, IL, rode Granted Wish to the championship win, while Kelsey Thatcher of South Jordan, UT showed Mirasol to the reserve championship.

The Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under division was up next with the division's championship and reserve championship both going to Abigail McArdle. McArdle rode Blue Steel to the championship win and Solitaire to the reserve honors.

The final division of the day was the Large Junior Hunters 16-17, and it was Caitie Hope of Barrington, IL, who took the championship tricolor riding Unsurpassed. Kelsey Thatcher came in reserve with Gianni, who was also the winner of today's $1,000 Artisan Farms Junior Hunter Classic.

Today was the final day of competition for the Showplace Spring Spectacular I, but there is much more competition to come as the second week gets underway this Tuesday, June 9. The show will continue through June 14 and will feature many more exciting events on its schedule throughout the week.

For more information, please visit http://www.showplaceproductions.com.

Photo Credit: Ashley Romano and Enjoy won the Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 championship tricolor at the Showplace Spring Spectacular. Photo 2009 Lauren Fisher/PMG. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


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