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Stadium Jumping Celebrates 35 Years As America's Premier Horse Show Management Company

Gene Mische and Stadium Jumping, Inc. Celebrate 35th Anniversary As America's Premier Horse Show Management Company and 39th Annual WEF in 2008

WELLINGTON, FLORIDA - September 5, 2007 - Eugene Robert ("Gene") Mische, founder and CEO of Stadium Jumping, Inc., will celebrate the firm's 35th anniversary in 2008 as America's premier horse show management company.

Stadium Jumping annually produces and/or manages the most prestigious shows in America including the Winter Equestrian Festival, Budweiser American Invitational, American Grand Prix Association National Jumper Championship, New Albany Classic, Lake Placid and I Love New York Shows, Charlotte Jumper Classic, American Gold Cup, USEF National Jumper Championships, and the National Horse Show.

Quadrennial Stadium Jumping Inc. productions include the Olympic Games Show Jumping Team Selection Trials in 2000 and 2004, and the World Equestrian Games Show Jumping Team Selection Trials in 2002 and 2006.

The year 2008 is a double celebration for Mische as he also marks the 39th consecutive annual running of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida - an event that is the largest and longest consecutively running sporting event in the world.

Mische is an extraordinary promoter of equestrian events. Over the past 35 years with Stadium Jumping he has changed the face of horse sport in the U.S. Focused on the hunter/jumper discipline, Mische introduced competitors and spectators to facets of horse shows never before seen in this country. In 1970, Mische introduced the first Grand Prix ever produced in a stadium in the United States when he managed the American Gold Cup at Florida's Tampa Stadium. Mische brought the discipline of show hunters to a new level when he introduced the first Hunter Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

Mische has also been instrumental in bringing international caliber sport to this nation. In 1980, Mische was part of the five-member Organizing Committee that brought the first World Cup to the U.S. Held in Baltimore, Maryland, it was only the second World Cup ever produced, with the inaugural World Cup launched in Goteborg, Sweden. In 1989, Mische and Stadium Jumping, Inc. produced the second Volvo World Cup ever held in the U.S., this time hosting it in Tampa. In 2002, Mische produced the first-ever outdoor Nations' Cup, hosting it in the Internationale Arena in Wellington, Florida.

Mische has also expanded his managerial skills to disciplines outside of show jumping. In 1991, with the United States Equestrian Team (USET), Mische founded the formerly five-discipline Festival of Champions, the first multi-discipline event in the U.S. Held at team headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey, the festival included show jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, and reining. Mische managed and served as chairman of the event until 2003.

Mische also served as Chairman of The National Horse Show Association, Ltd., and in 2002, when the event could no longer afford to be held in New York City, he brought it to Wellington where it has been showcased annually ever since as The National Horse Show and Family Festival, including the three-day Dressage at The National.

Mische's hard work has not been limited to making his shows a success. He has also worked to protect and promote all of Wellington's equestrian assets. To this end, he was the founding president of the Wellington Equestrian Alliance and continues as the organization's president to this day. Since its formation over 10 years ago, the Alliance has been involved in a host of equestrian related issues that range from the creation of the Wellington Equestrian Preserve Area in the Village's Comprehensive Plan, to ensuring that the Village's codes and regulations help protect and enhance the equestrian community.

In addition to his role with Stadium Jumping, Mische is also an active volunteer for the sport and has served on an impressive number of boards and committees. Mische has been a member of six United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) groups - the Ad Hoc Federation Representatives Committee; the Board of Directors; the Competition Management Committee; the FEI Competitions Committee; and the Zone 4 H/J Committee. He also chaired the USEF Marketing and Development Committee. Mische also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame and is on the Board of Directors for the Washington International Horse Show.

Mische was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2000.

A Horseman First and Foremost

With all of his accomplishments as a manager, Mische has always viewed himself first and foremost as a horseman. He has enjoyed a love of horses since his boyhood in Cleveland, Ohio, when he first mounted up at age nine at the Cleveland Riding Club. He worked at that establishment during all his school years, including as manager when he was in college. Mische graduated from John Carroll University with a degree in Business Administration and then spent two years studying law at Case Western Reserve University. His passion for horses led him back to his manager's job at the Cleveland Riding Club where he launched his career as a trainer.

Mische moved to Florida in 1967 and during that decade and into the 1970s, he earned the reputation as one of the most successful trainers in the U.S. He trained some of the most famous hunters and jumpers in the sport including Bow Mack, Grande, Hot Soup, Houdini, Let's Dance, Model Cadet, Nanicote, Ninth Wave, Toy Soldier, Puddle Jumper, and Sloopy. Mische also took on riding protegees who became world-renowned riders including Steve Stephens, Rodney Jenkins, and Jimmy Day. With Stephens, Mische established Imperial Farms, Inc. - a 26-acre breeding and training facility in Palmetto that is currently home to 20 Mische-owned horses. Mische now trains his 21-year-old great-nephew, show jumper Michael Morrissey.

Mische added show management to his repertoire in 1971. At that time, he was president of the Florida Hunter Jumper Association and participated in "The Sunshine Circuit," which included four unrelated Florida shows in Miami, Delray, Winter Haven, and Tampa. Mische stepped in to run the Winter Haven show when the manager bowed out, and he introduced a novel idea - he expanded the one-week show to two weeks. At that show, Mrs. C.T. Newberry enlisted Mische to produce shows in Lake Placid, New York, and he has been managing those shows for 36 years.

Having witnessed the introduction of Grand Prix show jumping to the U.S. when Jerry Baker introduced it in Cleveland in 1965, Mische was determined to see the sport showcased in a stadium and produced the American Gold Cup at Tampa Stadium in 1970. On the impetus of that success, in 1972 Mische formed Stadium Jumping, Incorporated to introduce the first American Invitational in Tampa Stadium in 1973. That event gave birth to the idea of managing a circuit of Grand Prix events, and in 1978, Mische launched the American Grand Prix Association, which currently boasts 33 elite events nationwide.

In the late 1970s, Stadium Jumping, Inc. took over the Florida Hunter and Jumper Association shows and added more events, including Ocala, Jacksonville, Palmetto, in addition to Tampa and Winter Haven. During that decade, in addition to managing the Lake Placid shows, Stadium Jumping added two more events in New York - CW Post College and The Hampton Classic. By 1979, Mische had been introduced to the budding horse world of West Palm Beach, now known as "Wellington," which was primarily developing as a winter haven for polo. Stadium Jumping, Inc. held the first Grand Prix in West Palm Beach on grass in front of the polo stadium. As Mische expanded in Wellington, he also expanded Stadium Jumping's managerial role at other venues and was producing a host of shows across the country - Chagrin, Ohio; Attitash, New Hampshire; Baltimore, Maryland; Charlotte, North Carolina; the Las Colinas Equestrian Center in Dallas; the Greater Southwest Equestrian Center in Houston; and the Equestrian Discipline Sunshine State Games-Florida Sports Festival in Tampa.

As far-reaching as Stadium Jumping's success has been, Mische still calls the development of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington his greatest achievement. From one Grand Prix in 1979, Mische expanded in just five years to host 300 horses in 1984. By 1989, to accommodate the number of competitors, Mische moved the shows to the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington. Five years later, by 2004, WEF was hosting a maximum 4,000 horses. Currently, the event encompasses eight weeks of shows in Wellington, with three dressage shows including a CDI (Concours de Dressage International) - one of only a dozen or less held annually in the U.S., and two additional show jumping weeks in Tampa. In 2008, with eight or more hunter, jumper, and dressage rings in action in Wellington, WEF is expected to count 4,000 horses on the grounds over the eight-week event. Prize money at WEF totals more than $4 million.

The Future of the Winter Equestrian Festival

Stadium Jumping, Inc. plans to build a new facility, the Wellington International Equestrian Arena (WIEA), to host the 2009 Winter Equestrian Festival. WIEA will be located on 179-plus acres in the southeast end of Wellington and showcase 13 rings.

"This move to our new facility is very exciting for all of us that have been involved from the very beginning in show jumping in America," said Gene Mische. "This expansion allows us room to grow with our rapidly expanding sport. It's one contiguous area. The design will be spectator friendly, and more importantly, exhibitor and horse friendly with a safe traffic flow and easy access. It's going to be a show grounds that people will enjoy competing at."

With his impressive record of important firsts in the industry and successful presentation of world-class international events in Wellington, Mische is setting even higher standards for WIEA. "The new facility affords me the opportunity to seek some of the world's major equestrian events for Wellington," he stated. "We brought the first outdoor Nations' Cup to our community, and with the arrival of this new facility, we're going to go beyond just the Nations' Cup. Stadium Jumping is going to aggressively pursue the Samsung Super League Finals to be held Wellington. I am confident that when the decision makers see this fantastic new show grounds we'll be successful in that pursuit."

WIEA will include an impressive indoor arena, and Mische has international plans for that venue as well. "With our new indoor arena, we feel it will be a great time for the FEI World Cup(TM) Finals for show jumping to return to Florida," Mische said. "And, for the first time in Wellington, it is our intention to host the FEI World Cup(TM) Finals for dressage as well."

Renowned facility designer Robert Jolicoeur of International Equestrian Design is creating the WIEA site plan to meet Mische's world-class perspective. Mische is confident that when completed, WIEA will be one of the greatest equestrian sport venues ever built. "We're very excited about the future," Mische enthused. "This is an exciting time for the equestrian industry and I'm confident that Stadium Jumping, as we've done for 30-plus years, will continue to lead the way into that future."



CAPTION: Gene Mische, founder and CEO of Stadium Jumping, Inc. PHOTO CREDIT: James Leslie Parker

 

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