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USET Foundation Presents 2009 Maxine Beard Award to Ashlee Bond and Michelle Spadone

Gladstone, NJ - April 6, 2009 - The United States Equestrian Team Foundation is pleased to announce that Ashlee Bond (23) of Hidden Hills, CA, and Michelle Spadone (25) of Califon, NJ, are this year's co-winners of the Maxine Beard Show Jumping Developing Rider Award. The USET Foundation awarded these rising young equestrians this honor because of their competitive records to date and because of their promise for the future in show jumping. Bond and Spadone were given trophies at a presentation during the 2009 Budweiser American Invitational at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, on April 4.

The recipients of this award are chosen based on their potential to represent the United States in international competition. A Show Jumping Developing Rider is defined as a U.S. citizen who has not represented the United States in Olympic, Pan American or World Championship competition.

Spadone has been a successful amateur jumper rider for years, but in 2008 she stepped up to the international level with her partner Melisimo, a 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. They represented the United States in Nations Cup competition last fall in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and won the gold medal along with teammate Ashlee Bond.

This winter, they have been very successful in their three competitions. They placed second in the World Cup qualifier in Jacksonville, FL, were fourth in the $150,000 World Cup qualifier in Wellington, FL, and placed ninth in the $200,000 World Cup qualifier in Wellington.

When Spadone was told she won the Maxine Beard Award, she was "really, really excited" and was happy to have won with her teammate and friend Ashlee Bond.

"It's an honor," Spadone said, "and I'm so grateful that they considered me for the award. The USET Foundation and the USEF do so much for the sport and I'm thankful."

Bond was very successful last summer at Spruce Meadows, where she won several classes with Cadett 7, her 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and qualified for the CN $1 Million Grand Prix at the Masters Tournament. Competing at the Nations Cup competition in Argentina was Bond's first U.S. team experience.

This winter at the HITS Desert Circuit, Bond has put herself into the top ranks of show jumpers after she won four grand prix classes with Cadett 7. Her wins in World Cup qualifiers have given her enough points to lead in the West Coast standings to solidify her trip to the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals this April.

"We West Coasters try to fight for the recognition. It's difficult because we don't have the same depth, but we're getting noticed and getting more credit," Bond said with a smile. "To be recognized with the highest caliber of riders and for doing well out here is such an honor."

Bond added, "I have to thank the USET Foundation for this award, as well as George Morris, and my parents for their support."

The Maxine Beard Award was developed to assist riders in their quest for equestrian excellence. Observing international competition is a crucial component in the education of an equestrian athlete.

Spadone was one of seven riders from the East Coast League to qualify for this year's Rolex FEI World Cup Finals. Both Bond and Spadone received the honor of the award and a trophy. If either individual had not qualified as a rider, the USET Foundation would have underwritten their trip to the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals to experience the competition with U.S. delegates and walk the courses with U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe George H. Morris.

Spadone said, "This will be my first time in Vegas and my first World Cup Finals, so it should be fun."

"I'm really excited," Bond agreed. "Going to the World Cup Finals is something I've always dreamed of doing. Representing the U.S is such a big honor, and there are such big shoes to fill."

Previous Recipients of the Maxine Beard Award

2008 - Hillary Dobbs

2007 - Brianne Goutal

2006 - Charlie Jayne

2005 - Cayce Harrison

2004 - Georgina Bloomberg

2003 - Michael Morrissey and Paige Johnson

2002 - Molly Warmington

2001 - Kent Farrington and Richard Rinehart

2000 - Kate Levy and Marilyn Little

1999 - Kate Levy and Emily Williams

1998 - Jamie Schmidt and Heather Caristo

The United States Equestrian Team Foundation (http://www.uset.org) is the non-profit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America's elite and developing international, high-performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.

For more information on the USET Foundation, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at http://www.uset.org.

Photo Credit: Ashlee Bond and Michelle Spadone are the 2009 Maxine Beard Award winners from the USET Foundation, pictured with Ronnie Beard, USET Foundation President Jane F. Clark, and U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe George H. Morris. Photos Randi Muster. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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