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Mario Deslauriers Has Double Clear Victories in 1.30m and 1.35m at the 2009 Tampa Equestrian Festival

Tampa, FL - March 18, 2009 - It was a beautiful day in Tampa for the opening day of the Tampa Equestrian Festival, held at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The Tampa Equestrian Festival features three weeks of the country's leading hunters and jumpers competing for top honors. This week is Suncoast International Week and will run through March 24. The jumpers competed today in the Covered Arena beginning at 9 a.m.

Mario Deslauriers, of New York, NY, was victorious in both today's 1.30m and 1.35m classes. During the 1.30m Deslauriers rode Cocu, owned by Jane Clark of Cooperstown, NY, to a double clear victory, and followed in the 1.35m with a double clear victory aboard Diablo.

Today's courses were designed by Philip J De Vita and were scored under Table II, section B, a timed first jump off. The courses included 11 obstacles with bending lines, a skinny fence, and two double combinations. The jump-off tested riders' speed and power with tight turns and large oxers.

The 1.30m class was the first to compete over the difficult course in the Covered Arena. Donald Cheska set the bar high after completing double clear rounds with a jump-off time off 39.641 aboard Zeldenrust Z. Mario Deslauriers entered the ring next with Tigger and also completed double clear rounds. The pair tripped the timer at 35.408, moving them into the lead. Derek Braun and Rio Lindebjerg, owned by Split Rock Farm, would be the next horse and rider to perform a clear first round and earn an opportunity to jump-off. The duo managed to jump clear and raced home with a time of 34.254, which was fast enough to take over the lead. Mario Deslauriers entered the ring next with his second mount, Cocu, and also performed a clean first round. Cocu was clean and fast in the jump-off and was able to squeeze by Rio Lidebjerg with a time of 33.493, which would be for the day's win.

"Cocu has been competing a long time," said Deslauriers after his win. "She's a very seasoned horse and she is very handy in these classes so she always does a great job."

Deslauriers had three horses competing in today's 1.35m class, and earned all three of the top spots. Derek Braun competed again with Rio Lindebjerg, but had an unfortunate rail early in the course, earning four faults and a first round time of 61.313, which was enough for fourth place honors. Deslauriers would be the first rider to complete a fault free first round and move on to the jump-off round aboard Diablo. The duo also went clear in the jump-off and speed home with a time off 37.430, moving them into the lead. Deslauriers would go clear again with his next mount, Vicomte D, but during the jump-off the pair had a rail at the first fence in the double combination. Their jump-off time of 35.360 was the fastest of the class, and held up for the third place. Deslauriers went double clear with his final mount, Paradigm, but their jump-off time of 41.615 would not be enough to catch Diablo, and would put them in the second place for the day.

"Diablo is a young horse that I've been showing at WEF in the WEF Challenge Cups and the grand prix," explained Deslauriers. "It's nice to bring him here and let him come down a little bit and breathe. He's a really nice horse with a good stride and some blood, so you don't really need to push him or kick him, he pretty much does everything on his own."

"We've been jumping outside so it's a big difference for the horses to come inside," explained Deslauriers about today's courses. "The jumps are way in the corner so you have to go deep in the corners. There was a skinny fence that had us jumping right into the corner, so that was a little difficult. It takes the horses a few rounds to get adjusted from riding outside to riding inside."

After Tampa, Deslauriers plans to go the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows and then to Spruce Meadows.

Competition will continue tomorrow at the Tampa Equestrian Festival with the hunters and jumpers competing for top prizes. The Tampa Equestrian Festival will conclude Saturday, April 4 at the Raymond James Stadium for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, the top show jumping competition in the nation.

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

Photo Credit: Mario Deslauriers and Cocu win 1.30m class on open day at the Tampa Equestrian Festival. Photo Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


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