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Bobby Murphy Adds Creative Component to Course Designs at FTI Winter Equestrian Festival

Wellington, FL - March 19, 2009 - This past week Bobby Murphy incorporated a creative edge into his course designs at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. Murphy resides in Lexington, KY, and is an assistant manager for all of the Kentucky Horse Shows at the Kentucky Horse Park. As a young course designer in the industry, Murphy strives to improve hunter/jumper competition by combining strategic marketing with horsemanship.

While working at WEF, he has been collaborating with Steve Stephens, the course designer for the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong. Murphy's innovative ideas are making strides in equestrian sport across the country.

In the Hermès Medal at the tenth week of WEF, Murphy created a course with alternate routes and options. The fifth element was a vertical that could be jumped from either direction, and combinations 4A-B and 6A-B could also be approached from either way. On the course plan and from a bird's eye view, the fences on the course created a large 'H' in the middle of the ring in honor of Hermès, the class sponsor. The Hermès Medal is part of a 12 week series of medal classes at WEF. These classes increase in difficulty each week, and the finals for the series will be held next week with the top 20 riders.

"The course chart is the one piece of paper you know everyone in the class is going to look at," commented Murphy. "That is one of the places that gets a lot of visibility, and you can incorporate marketing into it and improve sponsor relations. By combining horsemanship with innovative marketing, you can attract new sponsors and further develop the sport."

"Course designing is one way that our sport has evolved over the years, but I think we still have a way to go," he stated. "Our industry needs to catch up with other mainstream sports through marketing and sponsorship, and we need to think about the needs of corporate sponsors in order to accomplish this."

Murphy's courses throughout the winter circuit included standard equitation tests for the riders, such as bending lines and roll backs, and the tracks also offered new challenges that were designated as options on the course plan. The course for an ASPCA Maclay class included three different options for fence 10. There were three verticals as the options, and these fences were approached by a turn that became wider for each respective option. The verticals each increased in height by three inches.

On the course plan, the fences of the track spelled out 'FTI' in recognition of WEF's title sponsor, FTI Consulting.

"I thought the riders did very well with the courses," said Murphy. "There were some really high scores, and I think these tracks helped prepare them for future shows like the national championships. The FTI course was not just about finding one distance in a line and counting the strides to jump out. These courses encouraged the riders to think about the in and the out of each line and asked them to find their own pace, their own striding, and their own strategy."

He concluded, "I think there was more pressure on the trainers to help their students figure out the best track for each rider and each horse. By creating options, it gives riders the opportunity to discuss their strengths, skills, and what works best for their horse. Hopefully everyone was able to walk away from the experience having learned something about their riding and the areas they need to work on."

Murphy will be course designing in the Grand Hunter and Rost Arenas during the eleventh week of WEF. He will also design the tracks for the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, WIHS Jumper Phase, USEF Hunt Seat Medal, ASPCA Maclay, and Hermès Medal.

Murphy credits Steve Stephens for helping him create courses that include these new techniques. "I've learned a lot being able to stand next to him," noted Murphy. "He's always been one of my mentors. He has helped me steer this concept in the right direction and build unique, challenging courses."

After WEF, Murphy will travel to Texas to manage the NCAA Varsity Equestrian National Championships. He will then return to Lexington, KY, to work at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. From May 6-17, he will manage and course design at the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows.

Photo Caption: Two of Bobby Murphy's course plans at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Photos courtesy of client. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


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