Hampton Falls, New Hampshire - September 10, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008 was a golden day in more ways than one at the 19th Annual Jumper Classic sponsored by Fidelity Investments. Hannah, the hurricane that came up from the Caribbean, did leave its footprint the night before but fortunately for Jumper Classic officials moved through quickly to make room for spectacular warm and sunny weather that lasted throughout the day.
For the first time in history, the show jumping competition that riders affectionately refer to as "the Boston Classic" took a leap over the state line and forged ahead into some new territory. This year the Jumper Classic, sponsored by Fidelity Investments for the eighth year in a row, had a new location, a new course designer and a new Olympic Gold Medalist as their $75,000 Grand Prix winner.
The Silver Oak Equestrian Center, a 75 acre facility located in southeastern New Hampshire, fulfilled show official's expectation as a premiere venue and expert course, this year designed by Linda Allen, world-renowned and Olympic Course Designer. Allen narrated over the loud speaker for all to hear the approaches, the obstacles and the maneuvers of the Grand Prix course to help explain the challenges that the riders and horses will face in the competition. She was driven in a sleek black, 2008 Mercedes-Benz Convertible which was temporarily donated for presentation purposes by Herb Chambers Mercedes-Benz the Presenting Sponsor of the 2008 Jumper Classic.
The Bombardier Skyjet Opening Ceremonies began with Channel 7 News Anchors, Randy Price and Frances Rivera as the emcees. They were on-hand to introduce all the festivities including the speakers. "On behalf of Fidelity Investments we are honored to be here this year, especially at this magnificent new facility. We are especially grateful to support the charities, namely Lovelane Therapeutic Riding Center, City to Saddle and new this year, University of New Hampshire Therapeutic Riding School," said Alison Stebbins, Vice President and Regional Manager for New Hampshire's Fidelity Investments, Title sponsor for the past eight years. More festivities of the Bombardier Skyjet Opening Ceremonies included jazz singer Donna Bailey, a recording artist with DBS Jazz, who performed cuts from her current CD, "Becoming: Ballads, Bosses, Blues and Beyond." Georgina Bloomberg, Grand Prix rider and daughter of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, teamed up with Dover Saddlery to sign saddle pads which benefited one of the Jumper Classic charities. Singer and show jumping competitor Ki-Juan Minors, who won the Equestrian Idol competition in Wellington, Florida this year, sang the National Anthem while Gene Survillo lead the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Troops in a parade across the Coldwell Banker Previews Grand Prix field proudly displaying the American Flag. Then Jeff Papows, Chairman of the Board of the Jumper Classic, did a tribute to Dave Birdsall and his family who are the owners of the Silver Oak Equestrian Center. He then handed the microphone over to Randy Levesque, a fellow competitor and sponsor of the $15,000 Equine Insurance Services Speed Stake presented by Great American Insurance Group who introduced the Speed Stake and the competition was underway.
The face of the 2008 Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic, Board Member and renowned Grand Prix rider, Darren Graziano aboard Allure, took home the blue ribbon for the $15,000 Equine Insurance Services Speed Stake. The pair gained notoriety as the horse and rider on both the Jumper Classic billboards and tickets which were seen by the more than 12,000 people who were in attendance during the week.
More golden moments continued as the 2008 and 2004 Olympic Team Gold Medalist McLain Ward thrilled the massive audience by winning the top prize of the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix with Goldika 559. This event was the highlight and culmination of five days of non-stop competition. "We were honored to be here, everyone has been so hospitable. Between the new facility and how much the show has grown over the years, I was thrilled to have been a part of this wonderful day," said McLain Ward, two-time Olympic Team Gold Medalist and winner of the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. "The true champion is Goldika 559, she is a super horse that I have had for five years, the secret to her is to just stay out of her way and let her do what she does best and trust that she will come through. It is this strategy that leads her to win classes all around the world. That was my plan and obviously it paid off for me. and I have to say it was super," Ward continued. McLain Ward stayed on after the competition to sign autographs for young fans and even allowed several of them to come meet Goldika 559 in the massive portable barn that is set up at each of these magnificent horse shows. Fortunately, Ward was in good company, a number of past Olympians were at the show as well, including Joe Fargis, Nona Garson, Candace King, and Leslie Burr-Howard.
"It was like a fairytale ending, we couldn't have planned the competition any better with McLain Ward and Darren Graziano winning. We feel so honored to have such elite riders come to our show. We work hard to make this a 'rider-focused' show, and these are the results that help us confirm that we are doing the right thing," commented Melissa Lovasco, President and CEO of the Jumper Classic.
To add to the gala feeling of the day, The Clarendon Back Bay Luxury Condominiums sponsored an intermission that included breathtaking performances by singer Ki-Juan Minors and dressage rider Sue Jaccoma, who performed a musical freestyle with her mare Donnatella. Winners of the Ladies' Best Hat Contest were announced by celebrity judge, Glen Kelley, publisher of Boston Common Magazine.
The Korbel California Champagne Luncheon was held ringside for those who had purchased VIP tickets, and guests enjoyed Korbel California Champagne, Arrowood wine, Vermont Spirits vodka, Tommy Bahama rum, and Shipyard Ale from Maine. Boutique shopping on the grounds drew crowds who lingered to see local as well as national vendors with unique items to sell.
"We want to thank everyone who came to support the Jumper Classic, our riders, horses and charities will continue to benefit from your involvement. We hope everyone had a wonderful and memorable experience and we would like to extend an invitation for all to return to the Jumper Classic in 2009, which will be right here at the Silver Oak Equestrian Center in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire," said Melissa Lovasco, President and CEO of the Jumper Classic. "We gathered an abundance of knowledge this year about the facility, the logistics and the competition. We welcome any suggestions and comments from the riders, spectators, sponsors and vendors to help us create an even more spectacular event next year."
The 20th Anniversary of the Jumper Classic will be held next year on Labor Day weekend, September 2-6, 2009. For more information please visit http://www.jumperclassic.com
or call 978.283.7708
Please sign up for online email alerts and stay tuned to find out what will be happening at the momentous 20th Anniversary Celebration of this exciting sport of show jumping!
---------------------- It's easy! Just copy code below and paste into your webpage --------------------
<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/fidelity-jumper-classic-silver-oak-equestrian-09-08.html">Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic: Strikes Gold at Silver Oak Equestrian Center</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com