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Charlene Graham Rides Only You to Victory in Ariat National Adult Medal

Tampa, FL - April 2, 2009 - The Tampa Equestrian Festival's week three Tournament of Champions continued this week at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. The show will conclude this Saturday, April 4.

The Ariat National Adult Medal was the first equitation class to compete in the Main Hunter Ring this morning with the victory going to Charlene Graham and her brand new horse, Only You.

The entries in today'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.

Today'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."

Graham showed Only You for the first time last week and placed second in the Ariat class, and this week, moved up to first. The nine year-old Swedish warmblood mare is currently competing in the First Year Greens Hunter division with Amanda Steege and Graham is also showing her in the 3'3" Amateur-Owner Hunter division with the hope to soon step up to compete at the 3'6" level.

This is Graham's first time competing in Tampa and after having spent the winter showing in Ocala, she was pleasantly surprised by the laid back atmosphere and great quality of the show here.

"This is our fist time. We spent the winter in Ocala, and then we came to Tampa last week," Graham stated. "I absolutely love it here; there is always a breeze, the footing is great, everyone is so nice, and it is so laid back. It was really a joy to come here. We knew it was a nice show, but we didn't know what to expect because we had never been, so when we got here we thought it was great. It is very nice and we will definitely be back next year for sure."

There are just two days of competition left for the 2009 Tampa Equestrian Festival's Tournament of Champions. Tomorrow's competition will feature the conclusion of the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions and Saturday the hunter competition will conclude with the championship presentations for the Junior Hunters. The show's grand finale will be Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium, where the top 35 horses and riders will compete for one of the most prestigious titles in show jumping in the 37th Annual $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational.

For more information please visit http://www.stadiumjumping.com.

Photo Credit: Charlene Graham showed her brand new horse Only You to a win in the Tampa Equestrian Festival's week three Ariat National Adult Medal. Photo 2009 Lauren Fisher. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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