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It’s a Sizzling Finale for Sergio Campos at the Atlanta Summer Classics

Conyers, GA.—June 21, 2009—The finale of the Atlanta Summer Classics proved to be a hot week for Brazilian born Sergio Campos. Beginning with Thursday evening’s victory for the Longwood, FL based pro in the Classic Equine Equipment sponsored Lucky Sevens Welcome Jumper Stake.

Longwood Equestrian Center’s owner Campos partnered with the Millcreek Stables’ entry Millcreek Early Morning bested 21 first round horses on a snaky 12 obstacle –79 second allowed layout by renowned course designer Michel Vaillancourt. “He [Michel] set two lines with a half stride, but this was a riders course. You had to make quick decisions and unfortunately the ones who didn’t had a rail or other troubles.” Campos said. Given their clear round time of 71.497, it’s safe to say Campos was both thinking and quick. Campos’ assessment of the tracks was a plausible explanation as to why only 4 horses returned for the jump off.

Campos also gives a lot of credit for the win to the 8 year-old mare, “I’ve been working with her since she was a 4 year-old and basically I was the first one to ever show her. It’s a pleasure to bring her to this point-this far. She’s a thinker too.” he said. But in the final round questions switched to which of the four horses could combine speed with agility and stop the clock cleanly first. With a time allowance of 52 seconds, rider Blythe Marano aboard the Riverview Farm, LLC owned Urban had the added pressure of returning first, but a cool head and quick hoof landed the pair clean in a time of 44.408. Next in was the Renee White owned Arnado with rider Karim Ghaibi, who started well but had an unfortunate rail near the end of the course, leaving them with 4 faults in 45.044. “It was a pretty straight forward course, only one inside turn, so it was a little bit of a horse race.” chuckled Campos. A race he and Early Morning won by 3 seconds with clear time of 41.010. “Can’t wait for the prix this weekend!” exclaimed the happy winner on his walk back to the barn.

Friday evening was dedicated to fun, food, and funding with the annual Outback Steakhouse Charity dinner and silent auction to benefit Hope Clinic, a local organization that provides affordable health care to area residents in need. But what’s dinner without a floorshow? Well a dozen brave individuals who entered the Trainers Equitation Medal class guaranteed that. After a traditional round over fences came the light hearted under saddle -keep in mind these poor judges had already spent a majority of their day outside in the heat, so they were more than ready to develop some creative judging. Riders endured a stirrupless sitting trot, rising trot, and canter only to then be asked to dismount and remount, again without the aid of stirrups. There was some inventive methods used, such as standing on top of a roll top jump or climbing the fence rail and leaping. From here the group was narrowed down to 4 survivors for testing, the kicker came when the judges required the riders to swap mounts. After a few moments of horse introductions the shifts occurred and clucking over the jumps began. When the dust and laughter settled it was Florida’s Clair Kellner as the ultimate survivor of the night. 2nd place went to Selby Merritt, 3rd place to Britiani Brown, and 4th place to Jennifer Ramsey.

The Outback Steakhouse $25,000 Grand Prix was the main attraction on Saturday evening. While the thrills of show jumping always puts spectators on the edge of their seats, this evening would turn into an emotional roller coaster for 16 year-old Sarah Owen of Hendersonville, NC. Owen held her breath when Shakira do Jacare, the 12 year-old Brazilian bred mare dubbed The Queen of Speed, reunited with former owner-rider Sergio Campos entered the Olympic Grand Prix arena with the intention of reclaiming her title. The pair were 21st out of 23 on the initial order of go and only 7 had succeeded in going clean at that point, among them last week’s heroes Daniel Geitner and Trading Places. Designer Vaillancourt spared no punches on his 13 obstacle [16 efforts] with a conservative time allowance of 86 seconds. “I actually felt confident when I walked the first round and really thought this was a course for Shakira, just because the combinations were so tight and she’s so quick. She knows that really well.” Campos said of their scorching time of 77.393 that assured a face off round. Meanwhile Owen sat shaking in a golf cart over looking the field. “She was phenomenal. Better than ever.” an emotion choked Owen whispered.

Among those joining Campos for the finale was last week’s champ Daniel Geitner aboard Kyle Register’s Trading Places, Hardin Towell with the entry from Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Oare- Copado, and recent Youth Olympic Festival (held in Australia) Gold Medal winner Taylor Land with her partner Canaille. With an allowed time of 52 seconds to traverse cleanly over 7 obstacles that twist and turned all the competitors would have to work for a shot at victory. The first clear ride went to owner-rider Leo Paoli aboard Remonta Escaupil who set the bar at 45.951 seconds. Next in was Daniel Geitner and Trading Places with a flawlessly fast 42.502 to take the lead. The next two faulted, then junior rider Taylor Land brought Canaille home clear in 43.197. Two more before Shakira enters the ring and owner Sarah Owen couldn’t decide what was worse watching or not watching. Everyone around is cheering for her [Owen], even veteran greats like Derek Petersen and then the chatter stops as the blazing chestnut mare gallops in. 40.688 seconds later Owen is overcome with emotion as the crowd erupts in celebration of the “Queen’s” return. “It was pretty much a speed test. Just gallop after gallop and only one rollback, but when it comes to speed, well she [Shakira] is the best.” a smiling Campos said as he hugged Owen. Walking out to receive the awards with tears still pricking Owen’s eyes, second place finisher Daniel Geitner smiled and said, “How can anyone feel bad about losing when they see that kind of happiness?”

All the emotion behind this evening’s victory stems from Shakira taking a year and half away from the prix level when Owen purchased the mare so that they could learn one another better. “I think she’s better than ever, because she’s had the lighter work and time to grow bonded to Sarah.” Campos said. The mare was taken all the way back to level 1, given a new diet, and plenty of time off to “simply be a horse”. Times were difficult for Owen and the mare in the beginning, Shakira didn’t always like working at lower levels, which caused frictions that made both Owen and Shakira question themselves at times. However, Sarah and mom, Christine Vanneck, “never stopped believing.” When asked for her thoughts at the moment victory was certain, Sarah reflected and said, “What a struggle we’ve had and…just…finally! We’re ready now.” While Campos heads to Tennessee to compete, Sarah and “The Queen” plan to make their own Grand Prix debut in just 2 weeks at the Tryon, NC summer event.

Final results for the Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix were;

1st place Sergio Campos riding Shakira do Jacare for owner Muny Sunk Stables, Inc.

2nd place Daniel Geitner riding Trading Places for owner Kyle Register

3rd place Taylor Land owner-rider with Canaille

4th place Leo Paoli owner-rider with Remonta Escaupil

5th place Blythe Marano riding Urban for owner Riverview Farm, LLC

Closing out the finale week, Sunday found the junior riders competing for the title of Grand Most Supreme Puba. Run like the Pony Finals, the first round and under saddle on Saturday were judged and given a numeric score. On Sunday, those scores were added to the two round classic score. Each section of Junior Hunters had a Grand Puba and the Grand Puba with the most points was awarded Grand Most Supreme Puba. This year’s top –Most Supreme duo were Taylor Ann Adams and Rio’s Splash. And the Reserve Grand Most Supreme pair were Molly Gardner and Orient. “Aside from the element of fun this gives the riders, it’s a great prep for the upcoming Junior Finals.” Bob Bell, President of Classic Company said then added, “It’s a little way we can show appreciation for these young riders hard training.”

For more information or complete results on the Atlanta Summer Classics visit http://www.classiccompany.com or call the office at 843-768-5503.

Photo: Sergio Campos and Shakira do Jacare ©Flashpoint Photography

Photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release


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