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Phillipa and McLain Ward Take Final 2008 WEF Challenge Cup Victory at Tampa Equestrian Festival

Tampa, FL - April 2, 2008 - Today's $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Grand Prix, CSI was the final qualifying event for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, which will be held at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, and Phillipa took victory today in a full jump-off field.

Today's class saw 22 entries and 13 of them were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off. Due to class restrictions because this week's show has a lower FEI (International Equestrian Federation) rating, the jumps were smaller than previous WEF Challenge Cup classes. The course was designed by Philip J. DeVita of Apopka, FL. The higher number in the jump-off set off a race for the prize money.

"It wasn't too difficult, but you can always knock a jump down," Ward smiled. "It went up a little in the jump-off. Sometimes those kinds of classes are harder to win than a big one with only four clear. It was a very fast jump-off, and it worked out."

The first to try and capture victory was Will Simpson on El Campeon's Tosca. He put in a very quick clear round in 36.09 seconds. Three horses later, it was Ward and Phillipa, a 10-year-old Warmblood mare, who lowered the winning time down to 35.21 seconds.

"Will is a really fast rider and it's a fast horse. I knew I had to be pretty quick," Ward said afterwards. "I maybe could have done one less (stride) to the last (jump), but I was quick enough."

No one else could beat Ward's time, but a challenger in Michelle Spadone and Melisimo were close, stopping the timers in 35.38 seconds.

Although Ward knew that the jump-off would be fast, he had confidence in Phillipa, who has already competed in a number of jump-offs. "Funny enough, even though she's a big horse and a big jumper, she appears to be a little bit slow and she's not. She's quite quick in the jump-offs," he explained. "She turns really well. The jump-offs that she's been in, in the grand prix, she's been pretty successful."

This was the first big win in Tampa for Ward, who is one of 10 riders on the short list for the 2008 Olympics, where the equestrian events will be held in Hong Kong. He was very pleased with Phillipa, who won major grand prix events last year at Syracuse and the National Horse Show. They also competed this winter in the Olympic Show Jumping Trials. Ward plans to show Phillipa next week at the Charlotte Jumper Classic and in the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden, on April 24-27.

"We came here last week with a plan for the World Cup Finals," Ward said. "She felt really good."

Ward will show his top horse and Olympic gold medalist Sapphire in Saturday's Budweiser American Invitational. "The Invitational is a very, very bold class and for a young horse, I don't think it's the smartest choice. When you've got Sapphire in the barn, it's hard not to go with her," he said.

Tickets for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational are still available. Advance ticket prices are $25 in the white section, $35 in the blue section, and $40 in the red section. An Advance Family 4-pack is available for $70 in the white section and $125 in the blue section (Prices higher day of show: $30, $40, $45, $85, $140). Group prices for 20 or more people are available with advance purchase only. They are $17 each in the white section and $30 each in the blue section. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster 813-287-8844, 727-898-2100 or ticketmaster.com.

For more information on the Tampa Equestrian Festival and the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, please visit http://www.stadiumjumping.com.

Final Results: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup, CSI

1. Phillipa, McLain Ward, Sagamore Farms: 0/0/35.21

2. Melisimo, Michelle Spadone, Morgan Hill Partners: 0/0/35.38

3. El Campeon's Tosca, Will Simpson, El Campeon Farms: 0/0/36.09

4. Hidden Creek's Pamina L, Margie Engle, Hidden Creek Farm: 0/0/36.36

5. Little John, Eliza Shuford, Eliza Shuford: 0/0/37.87

6. Bull Runs Charly Brown, Kristen Vanderveen, Keith Vanderveen: 0/0/40.12

7. Plenty, Eliza Shuford, Eliza Shuford: 0/4/37.67

8. Can Get You, Kate Levy, Kate Levy: 0/8/40.42

Photo Credit: McLain Ward and Phillipa, winners of the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup, CSI at the Tampa Equestrian Center. Photo (C) 2008 Jennifer Wood/PMG. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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