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Washington International Horse Show Extends Contract with Verizon Center

New staff added to prepare for 50th anniversary celebration

Washington, D.C. - June 6, 2008 - The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), one of the world's leading equestrian events, has reached an agreement with Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., to extend its contract through 2009.

"We're thrilled to be able to extend our contract with the Washington International Horse Show for another year," said Washington Sports and Entertainment Chairman Abe Pollin. "The horse show is one of our longest tenured events dating back to the Capital Centre in 1975 and being able to extend the presence of this prestigious and storied equestrian event in the nation's capital is an honor."

In preparation for its 50th anniversary show in October, WIHS is pleased to welcome two additions to the show management team. Joining as acting executive director is Debbie Blair of Lexington, Ky., a recognized leader in event management in the Thoroughbred industry. Blair has been intricately involved with 22 Breeders' Cup World Championships, most recently as vice president of customer and event services. In addition, Blair was involved in the planning and operations of the Eclipse Awards for the past six years for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

"It is a pleasure for me to be associated with the renowned Washington International Horse Show. I'm excited to be an integral part of the 50th anniversary and look forward to working with the show's professional and established team," said Blair.

Joining WIHS as horse show management liaison is Canadian horse show manager Ainsley Hayes of Toronto. Hayes is on the show management team at the inaugural National Capital Open and the Kubota National Tournament horse shows to be held in August at the Nepean National Equestrian Park in Ottawa, Ontario. Prior to this, Hayes served as manager and event planner for the Collingwood Horse Shows, one of Eastern Canada's largest outdoor equestrian events. Since 2006, she has managed the Ocala Jumping Classic at the Florida Horse Park. Hayes competed successfully as a junior and amateur rider in pony, hunter and jumper competition. She is the daughter of amateur rider Shawn Hayes and Canadian Olympic show jumper Jay Hayes.

"I am very pleased to join the Washington International for its landmark 50th anniversary show, said Hayes. "The show has special meaning for me as I traveled to the show with my parents for almost ten years when my father competed on the Canadian Nations Cup team. Now I have the wonderful opportunity to be a part of an event that's especially memorable to me."

The 50th anniversary Washington International Horse Show will be held October 21-26, 2008, at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit http://www.wihs.org.

About the Washington International Horse Show (http://www.wihs.org):

An equestrian tradition since 1958, the Washington International Horse Show features top horses and riders from the U.S. and abroad, including Olympic champions, who compete for more than $415,000 in prize money and championship titles. About 600 horses participate in show jumping, hunters, equitation and dressage events during the six-day show. Special exhibitions, unique shopping in 65 boutiques and a Pony Pavilion with free pony rides (Sat.) round out this family-friendly show. WIHS, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has designated Autism Speaks as its official charity, building on a successful relationship initiated in 2007. Autism Speaks is dedicated to finding a cure for autism, a devastating disorder that affects one in 150 children.

Since its debut, the Washington International has been a popular Washington D.C. fixture visited by presidents, first ladies, celebrities, business and military leaders, as well as countless horse enthusiasts of all ages. Over the years, notable guests included Alice Roosevelt, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President John F. Kennedy, President Gerald R. Ford, General William Westmoreland, Christopher Reeve, John Cleese, Bruce Springsteen, William Shatner, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Arthur Godfrey and many more. Show memories abound, including in 1970, a carriage marathon with horse-drawn vehicles driving to the White House to give Mrs. Nixon a carriage ride around the South Lawn of the Executive Mansion. The standing North American indoor Puissance (high jump) record of 7 feet 7 1/2 inches was set at Washington in 1983 by Anthony D'Ambrosio and Sweet N' Low. In 2003 Christopher Reeve made a memorable and moving speech at the show, received by a six-minute standing ovation.

For more information, visit http://www.wihs.org.


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