Tampa, FL - March 24, 2008 - It was a great return to the winner's circle for Margie Engle of Wellington, FL. She piloted Hidden Creek's Pamina L to victory in the $75,000 Bob Thomas Grand Prix of Florida. The class was the highlight of the first week of competition at the Tampa Equestrian Festival, held at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center on the Florida State Fairgrounds. Next week's competition, the Tampa Bay Classic, runs from March 26-30.
The course was designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Canada. It featured 13 numbered obstacles in the first round. There were 28 entries in the class, and 8 were clear to continue to the jump-off. The time allowed of 74 seconds was a definite factor, as four riders incurred just one time fault. There were four retirements and one elimination. Engle commented, "I thought it was a nice course. It was a little bit careful and technical in parts, and time was very tight."
The first to return for the jump-off was Leslie Howard on her first of two mounts over the shortened course. She and Lennox Lewis 2 were efficient through the course. Howard made an inside turn from jump 1 to 2, which some of the other riders would attempt as well. She finished in a quick time with no faults in 41.464 seconds. Her time would hold up for four more horses until Engle entered the ring.
Engle and Hidden Creek's Pamina L made two great inside turns in the jump-off, and the 9-year-old mare's hind end cleared the jumps with ease. Engle galloped down to the last single oxer and was clear. She had lowered the leading time down to 39.743 seconds.
Engle has only had Hidden Creek's Pamina L for six weeks. The German-bred mare was in quarantine at the beginning of the year. Engle showed her lightly and moved her up slowly, and they won a 1.40m speed class in Wellington before arriving in Tampa. "I thought I would try the WEF (Challenge Cup on Thursday) here and she was really good, so I figured I'd give her a shot today," Engle said. "Although she hasn't done a lot of big classes, she's naturally pretty quick. She's got her own style, but she's careful."
After Sunday's grand prix, there are only three remaining qualifying events for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, presented by The Tampa Tribune and Sweetbay Supermarket:
March 27: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup at week two of the Tampa Equestrian Festival
March 30: $75,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier & the Just World Grand Prix of Tampa CSI 3* W at week two of the Tampa Equestrian Festival
April 2: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup, CSI at week three of the Tampa Equestrian Festival.
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
Jumper Highlights: Wednesday to Sunday
The 1.40m Jumper class on Wednesday was a Time First Round format for speed and was designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Canada. He designed a track with 11 numbered obstacles and two double combinations. Eight horses were clear over the course.
The winner of the class was Lutopia, ridden by Molly Ashe Cawley and owned by Jane Forbes Clark. Lutopia was the sixth horse to go. Cawley had already gone on one horse in the class and got to know the track before Lutopia.
Lutopia is a veteran speed horse and has won classes too numerous to count, but she has not been paired with Cawley for months. Cawley has been out of competition and riding since last August. She gave birth to her daughter Taylor two months ago. This was Cawley's first show back on Lutopia.
"She feels great. It's like putting on your favorite old pair of sneakers," she smiled. "It's just great to get back on her. She's such a winner and such a fun horse to ride. It was a long wait."
The first grand prix of the 2008 Tampa Equestrian Festival was held on Thursday. 2007 Pan American Games bronze medalist Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL, was the winner this week on Olinda, owned by Houlihan Lawrence. They achieved victory in the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup.
Olinda, an 11-year-old bay Warmblood mare, and Minikus had a quick pace and was on his way to lowering the leading time. After fence 6 they made the short rollback turn to the left, but Olinda slipped and tripped. She regained her footing and kept going, and Minikus opened up her gallop slightly to the final two fences. He passed through the timers to take the lead by only one-tenth of a second in 41.569 seconds.
This was the first show back for Olinda in almost two weeks since she competed in the final leg of the Olympic Show Jumping Trials. "I hadn't schooled her or even been over a pole on the ground since then," Minikus said. "She seemed like the week and a half break really freshened her up."
The open jumpers competed on Saturday in the North American League (NAL) 1.40m speed class, and Margie Engle on Hidden Creek's Calippo 12 were the quickest pair around the course. They came away with the win over Tigger and Molly Ashe Cawley.
Engle sped easily around the course designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Canada. She was the third rider to go in the class, chasing the leading time of 61.801 seconds set by Molly Ashe Cawley and Concerto. Engle and Calippo made the inside turns and were quick, stopping the timers in 59.524 seconds with no faults.
This is Engle's third season with Hidden Creek's Calippo 12, a horse known for its speed around the course. In today's class, Engle wanted to be efficient but was not pressing the grey gelding too much. "I wanted to go medium and do the turns," Engle acknowledged. "I wanted to see between my two mounts who would be comfortable in the ring to go on Sunday."
Michael Murphy of Apopka, FL, was the winner of the Junior/Amateur-owner Power and Speed class today with Katina 12. Riders had to be clear over the first eight jumps in order to continue the course for the speed phase. Nine riders moved onto the speed part of the course, but the fastest was Murphy, who is only 14 years old. He and Katina 12, an 8-year-old Selle Francais mare, went second in the class and no one could catch their speedy clear round in 37.301 seconds. The next fastest was Laura Pfeiffer of Temperance, MI, on Lilli Marlen. They finished in 38.611 seconds.
Murphy has only ridden Katina 12 for a week. "We're trying her right now to be my High Junior Jumper. This week is a trial period," Murphy explained. "If it all works out I'll do the High (Junior Jumpers) and some small grand prix."
Hunter Highlights: Wednesday through Sunday
Kelley Farmer spent Wednesday at the Hunter Ring doing quick changes as she moved from horse to horse, but it was worth the hassle when she walked away with top honors in six of the hotly contested classes.
Farmer and Clarity, a five-year-old bay, owned by Larry Glefke, had a banner day. Not only was this pair triumphant in the two Green Conformation classes, they also came out on top in both Regular Conformation Hunter classes that were contested today.
"Clarity is wonderful!" said Farmer. "He was brought over from Europe as a jumper prospect by McLain Ward, but being so young we put him in the hunter ring. He showed four times and was champion three times and reserve champion once. He never did any of the little stuff; he just went right into the bigger classes. He is just so talented."
Farmer continued her domination of the Hunter Ring with Guess Again in the Regular Working Hunters. Guess Again marched handily around the four-foot high courses to claim victory in both classes. "It's great to come here to Tampa," Farmer said. "After all that time in Wellington, this is a nice change."
The local Tampa/St. Petersburg area was well represented in the winner's circle as Amazing T, ridden by Ann Louise Powers and owned by St. Pete resident Susan McGarry, was named Low Hunter Champion. "I was late this morning," said McGarry. "I dropped the kids off at school and raced here. I got to the stalls in time to see him go around the corner to the ring. I'm just glad that I made it because he was so good. I had wondered if he would mind the scoreboard in the corner, but I guess he likes to see his name in lights. We are going to take it nice and slow with him - he's only four. He is too nice to push."
Unbelievable, owned by Paula Pell, was victorious in both Green Working Hunter classes that were contested today. Piloted by Mary Eufemia, this horse also calls St. Pete home.
Betty Oare had more than one reason to celebrate on Friday. Not only is it her 44th wedding anniversary, L'Alezon, her 8 year-old Selle Francais mare, won all three Amateur-Owner Hunter classes. Oare, of Warrenton, VA, rode the gleaming chestnut mare over the courses, designed by Philip DeVita, with precision and style.
She said, "It is nice to come to a new place to finish out the winter. Stadium Jumping and Gene Mische always do such a great job. I have known Gene since time began and have judged for Stadium Jumping forever. I am delighted that they hold these shows. Not only are they beautiful and well run, but I get a chance to see people that weren't at the other shows."
Second to Oare in two of the three classes held today was Brooksville, FL resident Jennifer Farri and her appropriately named Bling Bling. Farri and the stunning 8 year-old grey gelding were very happy with their second place finishes.
Farri said, "I love this show. It feels like home, being in my back yard. We show here a lot, mostly in the covered arena, but this hunter ring has the best footing. It makes it so nice. It's been a great week."
The first to go in the ring on Sunday were the Large Junior Hunters. Taylor Ann Adams and Social Circle seemed to have no trouble winning the first class of the morning, the under saddle. The pair produced the winning round in the final jumping class with a more confident trip around the course. They held off the challenge from Paige Dekko and Mr. Coffee to claim the championship.
The Small Junior Hunters competed next and Lyle with Caitie Hope aboard seemed to be in his element. A second place finish in the under saddle and then two superior rounds over fences clinched the champion title for them. Laura Pfeiffer and her Manchineel were named the reserve champion.
Paige Dekko continued her domination of the Equitation division by winning the WIHS Equitation-Hunter class. Her score of 86 points was two points higher than her closest rival, Morgan Hale.
As the sun began to shine, the Pony Hunters took over the ring. Up Til' Dawn, a flashy palomino owned by Dearborn Farm and ridden by Shawn Casady, was as faultless today as he was yesterday, and claimed victory in both classes over fences and the championship tricolor.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/tampa-equestrian-suncoast-internationale-03-08.html">Tampa Equestrian Festival Week 1 Wrap-up, March 19-23, 2008, Suncoast Internationale</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com