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2009 Charlotte Jumper Classic, CSI 5* to Host Fantastic Line-Up of Top Show Jumpers

Charlotte, NC - April 7, 2009 - The 2009 Charlotte Jumper Classic, CSI 5* will be held this week on April 10-12 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC. The highlight event is the $450,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte. Many of the top show jumpers in the world will be in Charlotte to compete for the best prize money in the nation. Along with them are some of the best junior and amateur riders in the United States.

Robert Johnson, President of the Charlotte Jumper Classic, noted, "We have extraordinary riders competing in this year's Charlotte Jumper Classic, including several gold medal Olympians. It's a great testament to the caliber of the event and to the dedication of the riders. The Charlotte Jumper Classic leads up to this year's World Cup Finals, and I cannot think of a more perfect way to preview top skills and talent in show jumping competition."

In the International Open Jumper division, there are seven American Olympians attending this year. They include two-time Olympic gold medalists Beezie Madden and McLain Ward, as well as gold medalists Chris Kappler and Leslie Howard. Other Olympians from the United States include Todd Minikus, Lauren Hough, and Norman Dello Joio. The 2004 Olympic individual gold medalist, Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil, will also compete in Charlotte. There are top Canadian riders, including nine-time Olympian Ian Millar, Canadian Olympian Mario Deslauriers, and Canadian team rider Keean White. Top Irish rider and Olympian Kevin Babington will attend, as will Russian Olympic rider Ljubov Kochetova.

Olympic gold medalist Chris Kappler of Flemington, NJ, placed third in last year's Grand Prix of Charlotte on VDL Oranta. He will be returning this year with Oranta and is fresh off a win in the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational this past weekend in Tampa, FL. Kappler has attended almost every year of the Charlotte Jumper Classic and looks forward to competing this year as well.

"The whole show is an excellent event," said Kappler. "Bob Johnson and Stadium Jumping do a wonderful job at producing it. It's always fun to be there. It's in a good arena, the city is great, and it always gives you a special feeling to be there."

Competing in the Time Warner Cable Arena can be a different experience for horses and riders who have been showing outside in a large field all winter in Florida. Despite that, Kappler said his horse has no problem adjusting to the small indoor ring. "She does have indoor experience, and I've shown quite often indoors. The thing I love about Oranta is that she is unfazed by her surroundings. She's been really solid everywhere that I've taken her."

Kappler and Oranta will be one of the top pairs to compete in Sunday's grand prix, and Kappler noted that the prize money is a "really wonderful incentive" for the athletes. "It brings meaning to the class," he described. "It's really important for the development of our sport and helps it come along from a small sport to a big sport. Although the class is fairly new, it's become prestigious. I really want to support the show."

Kappler also praised the fact that there is great spectator attendance at the Charlotte Jumper Classic, and he hopes it will increase even more this year. "Having the show in Charlotte and in a well-known sports arena makes it easier for a more general audience to access the sport," he explained. "It's so easy to get there and be able to watch. There's a large crowd there, it's new and interesting, and they promote the show really well. I think it helps bring bigger exposure to the sport."

Other top show jumpers that will join Kappler at the Charlotte Jumper Classic include Richard Spooner, Charlie Jayne, Kent Farrington, Georgina Bloomberg, Cara Raether, Danielle and Jimmy Torano, Michael Morrissey, Brianne Goutal, Lisa Silverman, Katherine Miracle, Debbie Stephens, Kate Levy, Paige Johnson, Marley Goodman, Marilyn Little-Meredith, Pablo Barrios of Venezuela, and Eliza Shuford of Hickory, NC. Up and coming grand prix riders Nick Dello Joio, Jenna Thompson, Andrew Welles, Clara Lindner, Henri Kovacs of Hungary, and Jeanne Hobbs of Pinehurst, NC, will also compete.

The International Open Jumpers will have five classes over the three-day competition. Starting on Friday evening at 7 p.m. is the $25,000 Charlotte Welcome Stake. At 1:30 on Saturday afternoon, the International Open Jumper riders will compete in a speed class, while Saturday evening's session begins at 7 p.m. It will offer two classes for International Open Jumpers, including the accumulator class and the very special $25,000 Puissance class, which is a high jump competition over a wall. It has never been seen before in Charlotte and is one of only two puissance classes still offered in North America.

At 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, the International Open Jumpers will return for the $450,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte for the Charlotte Bobcats Cup. This class is one of the biggest purses offered in show jumping in the world, and the competition will be fierce.

In addition to top professionals, there is a full roster of the best junior and amateur riders in the country who are attending the Charlotte Jumper Classic. They include last year's Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic winner Whitney Weeks, Alexa Weeks, Callie Bass, Cortie Wetherill, Clementine Goutal, Francis Tres Roig, Reed Kessler, Taylor Land, Laura Belmont, Whitney Linders, Michael Murphy, Daniel Bluman, and Susan Knoblach.

The Junior/Amateur Jumper division will have three classes on their schedule this weekend. The Friday evening session starts at 7 p.m. and will feature a Junior/Amateur Jumper speed class. On Saturday afternoon, the Junior/Amateur Jumpers have an accumulator class following the International Open Jumper class. On Sunday afternoon, spectators will be able to see the top juniors and amateurs compete in one of the highest prize money classes for their division in the country. Starting at 1 p.m., Junior/Amateur Jumpers will compete in their $35,000 classic.

The Charlotte Jumper Classic is a signature fundraising event for the Bobcats Youth Foundation, which focuses on improving the lives of children and youth in the community. The Charlotte Jumper Classic will host more than 150 horses in Uptown Charlotte and features $575,000 in prize money. For more information on the Charlotte Jumper Classic, please visit their Web site at http://www.charlottejumperclassic.com.

Photo Credit: Olympic gold medalist Chris Kappler and VDL Oranta will be top competitors for the $450,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte at the Charlotte Jumper Classic. Photo 2008 Jennifer Wood/PMG. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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