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Hillary Dobbs and Marlo Master $35,000 Welcome Stake at the Tampa Equestrian Festival

Tampa, FL - March 26, 2009 - It was a bright and sunny day at the Tampa Equestrian Festival, held at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center located on the Florida State Fairgrounds, marking the second day of the Tampa Bay Classic. Today fifty-eight riders competed in the $35,000 Welcome Stake in the Covered Arena. Seven riders were able to complete clear rounds and advance to the jump-off, but it was Hillary Dobbs and Marlo who completed the fastest double clear round of the day and took home the blue ribbon.

"This is a really important, special win for me today," smiled Dobbs after her victory lap. "Marlo is my newest horse and we had a period where we were getting to know each other this circuit. Today's win solidifies that we're making great strides and getting to know each other better. I'm really happy with the way she went; she was unbelievable today and I couldn't be happier with her."

Today's jump-off course was designed by Pierre Jolicoeur and included nine jumping efforts. Riders began over a bending line from fence three, a large oxer, to fence four, a difficult vertical plank, followed by fence ten which was a skinny vertical. Riders then continued to fence 11, a large oxer, and then to the vertical-to-vertical double combination, 12ab, followed by a tight turn to fence nine, a large oxer. Finally riders raced home over fence number one, a very wide yellow and black oxer.

Lauren Hough was the first to qualify for the jump-off after completing a clear first-round aboard Naomi 152. The pair took down the rail coming out of the double combination at fence 12b and stopped the clock at 39.660, earning the sixth place award. Leslie Howard entered the ring next with Lennox Lewis II. The duo faulted at fence 11 and stopped the clock in 40.840 seconds to finish in seventh place behind Hough.

Michael Morrissey and Crelido were the first combination to complete a double clear round during today's jump-off. Morrissey and Crelido were fast and accurate, cutting the turns in all the right places to set the pace at 39.530 seconds. Their fast time garnered the second place ribbon. Play On and Beezie Madden also completed a fault-free jump-off round, but their time of 43.620 would earn them the fourth place position. Next to compete was Keean White of Canada aboard Celena Z. White and Celena Z also pulled down the rail at fence 11, but slipped through the timers in 38.750 seconds to be the fastest of the four-faulters and take home the pink ribbon.

Hillary Dobbs and Marlo were second to last to compete in today's jump-off but they were prepared to win. Dobbs took off towards the first fence, leaving strides out and cutting turns where she could. The duo left all the fences standing and raced through the finish line in 38.920 seconds, passing Morrissey and garnering the win. Leslie Howard challenged Dobb's lead with her second mount, Raimond W. She also went double clear, but her time of 41.950 seconds would not be enough to pass Dobbs and the pair earned the third place prize.

"I thought today's jumps were especially large for the first big class in an indoor all season; I thought they were big and wide," explained Dobbs. "During the first round I really trusted Marlo because she has such a big stride and she's so athletic. I protected the front pole with her and really just trusted her to do the rest and she was really remarkable today.

Dobbs hopes her luck will continue later this week during the $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, the final FEI World Cup Qualifier CSI-W for the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. Dobbs is currently tied for fifth place with her other mount, Quincy B, and hopes another good placing will move her up in the standings.

Dobbs is very excited to be at the Tampa Equestrian Festival. "This is a great horse show," she said. "It's a great opportunity to get indoors after being in an outdoor ring all year. It prepares you for the other indoor events coming up, whether it is Charlotte or World Cup Finals. This is a great preparatory horse show, not just to qualify, but to get experience indoors before going somewhere else."

The second week of the Tampa Equestrian Festival, the Tampa Bay Classic, will continue through Sunday, March 29, and will conclude with the $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, which will be held at noon in the Covered Arena. The Tampa Equestrian Festival will come to a close following week three, the Tournament of Champions, on Saturday, April 4, at Raymond James Stadium. The final event will be the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, one of the most prestigious show jumping events in the nation.

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

Photo Credit: Hillary Dobbs and Marlo had the fastest double clear effort to win the $35,000 Welcome Stake at the Tampa Equestrian Festival. Photo Randi Muster. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


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