Tampa Equestrian Series Week 2 Wrap-Up, April 3-7, 2012, Tournament of Champions

TAMPA, (Phelps) - It was a night of nail-biting excitement as 32 of the nation’s top riders went head-to-head in the 2012 $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night. It was with speed and accuracy that Mario Deslauriers was able to triumph with Cella during a five-horse jump-off. They raced through the finish line in 44.50 seconds after completing a clear short course, while Molly Ashe-Cawley posted a speedy time aboard Carissimo, leaving all rails in their cups and capturing the second place prize in 45.81 seconds. Beezie Madden was the third of the double-clear efforts, but her time of 46.31 seconds proved too conservative, taking the third place honors for the evening’s event.

Laura Kraut and Cedric were one of the teams to fall victim to a problematic bicycle vertical. The duo raced forward through the remaining obstacles, however, to stop the clock in a blazing 80.870 seconds, the fastest four-faulter. They eventually took the sixth place honors. Kraut was one of nine four-fault riders, including Matt Williams, Shane Sweetnam, Richard Spooner, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Marie Hecart, Darragh Kenny, Pablo Barrios and Reed Kessler.

Charlie Jayne and Athena, owned by The London Group, was the third rider on course and the first to complete a clear effort. Eleven rounds later, the defending champion Kent Farrington and Uceko, owned by RCG Farms, tripped the timer without incurring any jumping faults. His clear round guaranteed a jump-off. Beezie Madden left nothing to chance as she entered the ring as the twenty-fifth rider to attempt the course. She procured an exceptional first round attempt, leaving all rails in their cups and joined the ranks in the jump-off.

It has been ten years since Molly Ashe-Cawley has had a victory for the prestigious event; however, her clear round gave her another opportunity to take the win and ride Carissimo, owned by Maarten Huygens, to the top. Cella with Mario Delauriers in the irons also provided a clear round to move into the jump-off and vie for the championship.

Jayne and Athena were the first to show over the shortened track; however, they proved that the course was no simple feat to maneuver. They accrued sixteen faults for their effort, and earned an additional fault for a time penalty, resulting in 17 faults overall. Their jump-off round eventually earned the team the fifth place ribbon. The rounds only seemed to grow increasingly better with each go.

Farrington was the next to compete in the jump-off, his pure determination had the entire stadium on edge as the anticipation rose. Farrington guided Uceko over the course brilliantly, but the rail went down on the final obstacle, the G & C Farms oxer. They finished with a four-fault total and the time of 45.10 seconds. Farrington was awarded the fourth place award.

It was Madden who piloted Simon to the first double-clear effort of the night. Hopes were high as they soared over the fences and it seemed as though Madden would have a chance to win her third American Invitational. She took a conservative approach to the course, effectively clearing all obstacles. Her time of 46.310 seconds left the door open, eventually placing Madden in the third place position.

It has been ten years since Ashe-Cawley emerged victorious at the 2002 American Invitational. She is one of only three victors to win in consecutive years, and her thirst for the first place prize was apparent as she made her way through the short course. Carissimo stayed straight and true through the obstacles, moving with a firm pace. After landing from the Land Rover vertical, they attempted to slice the turn to the oxer, but she lost time after the turn did not go as smoothly as planned. Racing from the penultimate obstacle toward the final oxer, they made up some time and broke the beam at 45.810 seconds with a clear round, but it proved only good enough for the second place prize.

The last to attempt Saturday’s short course was Deslauriers aboard Jane Forbes Clark’s mount Cella. Together they maneuvered their way easily over each fence with Cella proving his agility and precision over the fences, avoiding any faults. Deslauriers effectively shaved off 1.31 seconds slicing the turn to the second to last obstacle, as well as leaving out a stride to the final oxer. They sped to the final fence and tripped the timers at 44.50 seconds, an outstanding time and brilliant effort.

Photo Credit: Mario Deslauriers produced a blazing fast double-clear effort with Cella to win the 2012 $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational. All Photos By: V.Valenti/The Book LLC. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.

Jumper Highlights

The first day of the Tournament of Champions got underway at the Bob Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Tuesday. The day was filled with sunshine and a cool breeze as riders stepped forward to compete over the challenging jumper course. It was Greg Crolick who stole the show aboard his very own Landino during the 1.30m Open Jumper class.

Greg Crolick and Landino were the only pair to master the first round course providing a clear effort just within the time allowed of 82 seconds. Crolick was the third to enter the ring, and after seeing the prior two rounds, he expertly guided his mount over the first oxer and continued through the course very carefully, leaving all fences intact and crossing the finish line in a conservative time of 79.462 seconds.

Going immediately into the jump-off, Crolick had to truly think on his feet. He took an assertive approach as he raced against the timer. Effectively, he was able to pilot Landino through the short track in a quick 34.225 seconds.

Danielle Amico and Sir Charles took the second place honors for their speedy time of 79.107 seconds. Unfortunately, the duo had an unlucky rail during the oxer-vertical double combination, and another later in the course. Her eight-fault total eventually earned the duo the red ribbon. Megan Edrick and Burg’s Surprise B were put through their paces by the course, incurring eight jumping faults and three time faults for her cautious effort.

The second day of the Tournament of Champions commenced Wednesday morning with some of its most competitive jumper divisions. The Tournament of Champions sees some of the nation’s most talented riders compete in the Open Jumper classes in preparation for the esteemed American Invitational. The leading team who emerged Wednesday was Michael Morrissey and Vorst, riding to the top of the leaderboard as the only double-clear effort of the1.30 Open Jumper class.

Morrissey was the first to enter the ring, and he knew that he was going to take it at a strong pace, but not attempt the optional slices Jose Gamarra’s course left as options. After completing the first round in 74.912 seconds, well within the time allowed, Morrissey prepared for the jump-off. Although it looked imposing, Morrissey and Vorst left all rails in place, and stopped the clock in a timely 29.810 seconds.

Morrissey wore a target on his back for his double-clear effort, with each consecutive rider attempting to mimic his success. Leslie Howard guided Perugina through a beautiful round; however, an unlucky rail and two time faults kept the duo out of the first place position. Although their time proved more conservative than previously desired by Howard, it earned the pair the second place prize as the only team to complete the short course with a four-fault jumping total.

Danielle Amico and Sir Charles exerted a great effort in the ring while trying to catch Morrissey, but it proved to no avail. Although they incurred no time faults-crossing the finish line in 73.436 seconds-they did accumulate eight faults for knocked down fences. They eventually took the third place honors.

It was a muddy morning as the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center welcomed numerous horses to the third day of the Tournament of Champions. Luckily, the jumpers were able to dodge the effects of the inclement weather as they gathered in the Covered Arena to compete for the top prize. Thursday saw great opposition as riders entered the ring to vie for the coveted American Invitational Welcome Stake Championship. It was 17-year-old Claudia Billups and Quick N Easy who mastered the courses, walking away with the championship prize.

Billups was the third rider to attempt the challenging first round track. She picked up a strong pace with Quick N Easy, and guided him through the course with ease. As she tripped the timer in 69.307 seconds, the crowd applauded with encouragement as she patted her horse and moved immediately into the jump-off.

She expertly guided Quick N Easy through the seven obstacles, incurring four faults for an unfortunate rail over the final vertical. She blazed across the finish line in an astounding 36.469 seconds, well within the time allowed of 45 seconds. It turned out that Billups would be the only rider to attempt the short track this evening-managing to also qualify for the jump-off with her mount Rockefeller.

Using Rockefeller’s scope and stride to her advantage, she picked up a flowing pace to the first obstacle and moved smoothly into the vertical-oxer line. It was the oxer that gave her a problem as the duo knocked a rail out of its cups. Fortunately, that was the only rail of the short track and she finished with the four-fault total and time of 37.301 seconds, falling just shy of the top spot with Rockefeller; however; very proud that she earned both the first and second place awards aboard her mounts.

Alexa Adelson and Padie Blu Cardu, owned by Starbit Partners LLC of Scarborough, NY, took the third place honors as the fastest four-faulters ending with a time of 71.139 seconds.

The competition grew fierce as the penultimate day of the Tampa Equestrian Series arrived. Riders from across the nation have joined the ranks to go neck to neck for the top spot in the Amateur-Owner and Adult Amateur Jumper divisions. The young Claudia Billups once again made her mark Friday morning, riding Sensation 21 to the first place position in the Low Amateur-Owner Jumpers. Heather Villemaire rode Ca Va to the top of the leaderboard in the Adult Amateur Jumpers, raising the bar with their flawless round and time of 28.520 seconds.

Heather Villemaire aboard Livius was the first to attempt the course. She carefully guided the gelding through in a time of 64.455 seconds. As she began the jump-off, she picked up a quick pace, although she posted the fastest time overall, she eventually earned the fifth place prize due to an unfortunate rail over the final oxer. Olivia Rathgeb soon took over the lead with her double-clear ride. She piloted her own Polydor through the six obstacles to trip the timer at 33.848 seconds.

Alexandra Slacter immediately attempted to best Rathgeb with YZ Wellie 65. The young horse exemplified speed and accuracy through the first course, but over the short track, their time fell shy of the target time, crossing the finish line with a time of 35.990 seconds, riding to the third place finish. Rathgeb’s time held solid until Villemaire entered the ring aboard her second mount, Ca Va.

The pair put forth their best effort in both rounds, crossing the finish line in a blazing fast time of 28.520 seconds, beating Rathgeb’s time by over five seconds and leaving all rails in their cups to take the top spot.

Earlier in the morning, Claudia Billups once again rose to the top of the Low Amateur-Owner Jumpers aboard her mount Sensation 21. The duo came in the second place position yesterday; however, they left nothing to chance Friday taking the first round with a careful technique and a conservative time of 67.533 seconds.

Joy Slater and Silvester took the second place honors for the Low Amateur-Owner Jumpers, with Landrie Folsom and Santa Teresita Fantasma, owned by Don Stewart of Ocala, FL, taking the third place position as the fastest four-fault effort. Billups also secured the fourth place prize aboard Queeny for their four jumping faults over the short course.

Hunter Highlights

On a hazy Tuesday morning at the Tournament of Champions, the second week of the Tampa Equestrian Series, the hunters gathered in the tree-lined Main Hunter Ring. The competition was fierce as the first day got underway. Leslie Howard and ZippZoo put in an excellent effort in the First Year Green Working Hunters, and Greg Crolick aboard Imagine caught the judges’ eyes, as well. It was a day for success as Amanda Steege stole the show yet again, laying down smooth rounds in the Second Year Green Working Hunters, proving that the first week of competition was no fluke. Mary Euphemia took home all blues in the Performance 3’6″ to 3’9″ Hunters, making a clean sweep of the over fences and the under saddle.

The grey gelding, ZippZoo, owned by the Burr Associates, made his mark with Leslie Howard in the irons during the First Year Green Working Hunters. The talented duo won the first over fences class, executing a flowing, smooth and consistent round. It was Imagine with Greg Crolick of Birmington, MI, that put in the winning handy round, using perfectly executed rollbacks and a smooth transition to the trot jump to gain the edge of their competition.

Crolick also piloted the striking bay Holsteiner mare, Social Scene, to the second place in the handy class. Adrienne Iverson and Fidelia put in a smooth round and were second in the first over fences class of the morning.

As the day continued, Balou with Lisa Arena firmly in the saddle put in solid rounds during the Second Year Green Working Hunters. The pair walked away with the blue ribbon in the first over fences, as well as in the under saddle. City of Angels, piloted by Megan Edrick, wowed the spectators in the handy round.

In the Performance 3’6″ to 3′ 9″ Hunters division, it was a clean sweep by Mary Euphemia and Unbelievable, owned by Paula Pell of St Petersburg, FL. Together, they took the first in the over fences, the handy and the under saddle.

It was Euphemia again in the Pre-Greens with Summer Daze who took the win in the first over fences round and the hack. The pair fell just short during the second round of the over fences where Afellay owned by Red Field Farm and ridden by Adrienne Iverson, put in the smoothest and most rhythmic performance to win the blue. Winter Wonder and Amanda Steege delivered consistent rounds to land the pair in second place in both over fences classes.

The Tournament of Champions got off to a start with the Pre-Green Hunters Wednesday morning in the Main Hunter Ring, with top riders and horses vying for the honors throughout the afternoon. It was Amanda Steege and Mary Euphemia who stole the show on the second day of the Tournament of Champions.
In the Pre-Green Hunter division, Steege guided Winter Wonder, to first and second place honors. The pair put in solid rounds yesterday, too. They were awarded two second place ribbons over fences as well as a good ribbon for their efforts in the under saddle. Their quality rounds eventually resulted in the reserve championship.

The day continued with the First Year Green Working Hunter division. It was Leslie Howard and ZippZoo, owned by Burr Associates LLC, who took the championship, building on their over fences win from Tuesday with two additional winning rounds. Greg Crolick continued to score high with the judges during his two rounds of the day, added with his top scores from yesterday, he and Imagine, owned by Clover Land Farm LLC, took the reserve championship.

It was Unbelievable who, for the second day in a row, who swept the Performance 3’6″ to 3’9″ Hunters with rhythmic and smooth rounds, winning both classes and earning the championship for the division with Euphemia. She skillfully maneuvered the dark brown, Anglo Trakehner gelding, owned by Paula Pell, around the course to win the tricolor. Clitschko, owned by Brandis Linn, and ridden by Jessica Cross, was awarded the reserve championship honors.

In the Second Year Green Working Hunters, Amanda Steege and Balou, owned by Lisa Arena were announced the champions. The duo won over fences and under saddle Tuesday and put in an additional winning round.

Megan Edrick aboard City of Angels, owned by DC Sales and Entertainment LLC, earned the reserve championship honors for their remarkable scores. The pair caught the judges’ attention with their accurate distances, smooth and upbeat pace and solid rounds.

Riders demonstrated their proficiency in the equitation classes at the Tampa Equestrian Festival’s Tournament of Champions on Thursday. Earning the top accolade in the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship class was Hanna Marco on Careman. Testing Jose Gamarra’s equitation course to first place in the Pessoa USEF Hunt Seat Medal was Morgan Ward riding Blitz DU Maris. In the Amateur-Owner Hunters Robin Swinderman earned two blues for her efforts aboard INXS.

Only four horse and rider combinations were called back after the challenging over fences portion. They were asked to demonstrate their abilities on the flat, following the careful and precise directions of the judges as they attempted perfection while under their scrutiny. In the end, it was Hanna Marco and Careman who earned the blue ribbon for their delivery of a well executed over fences round, and their demonstration of polished, classic form. Morgan Ward aboard Blitz DU Marais was second. Meg Mitchell and Rue Royale earned the third place prize.

Morgan Ward piloted Blitz DU Marais to a flawless first round of the Pessoa USEF Hunt Seat Medal.

Ward along with Meg Mitchell Hanna Marco and 296 all were called back for the work out after guiding their horses around Gamarra’s challenging course. But it was Ward who delivered a definitive halt after fence three of the test, and immediately executed the three straight steps back, cantered off and jumped the last jump and transitioned perfectly to her sitting trot. The judges acknowledged her performance by awarding Ward the top prize.

Top-notch competition continued in the Amateur-Owner Hunters in the Main Hunter Ring at the Tampa Equestrian Festival’s Tournament of Champions Friday. In the Amateur-Owner Hunters, Robin Swinderman and INXS made a clean sweep of the division winning all four of the over fences classes and the under saddle.

INXS and Swinderman were simply unbeatable in the two over fences classes. The duo laid down two equally spectacular rounds, demonstrating the bay Trakehner gelding’s stylish way of going and consistent jumping form. It came as no surprise that Swinderman and INXS earned the championship title, as well as the circuit championship award.

Lauren Mullen and her Irresistible Opportunity opted for a warm-up round, which seemed to help the Warmblood mare find her focus. Mullen’s first round was stylish, smooth and perfectly paced. The mare jumped the course in excellent hunter form, showing tremendous scope over the outside single oxer. She received the judges’ nod for the second place on her performance. The pair’s second round was also respectable, producing a third place decision from the judges.

With two more rounds to go in the Amateur-Owner Hunters, the sky opened up for a brief shower. London and Darby Toben didn’t miss a beat. With spectators and trainers running for cover, Toben seemed to gain confidence and focus, putting in the round the judges would honor with second place.

The Championship and the Circuit Championship in the 3’6″Amateur-Owner Hunters went to INXS and Swinderman, with Irresistible Opportunity and Lauren Mullen earning the Reserve for the week , as well as the Reserve Circuit Championship. In the 3’3″ Amateur-Owner Hunter, the circuit Championship was earned by Versace piloted by Lynn Seithel.

The country’s most skilled junior riders competed in the Main Hunter Ring Saturday, concluding the Tournament of Champions at the Tampa Equestrian Festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds. High-level sportsmanship and good humor characterized the mood of the day’s divisions as families, trainers and spectators supported the young athletes.
The high quality of the participants in the Small Junior Hunter under saddle class appeared a challenging match-up to judge. Entourage, owned by Redfield Farm and skillfully ridden by under saddle by Reily Rieker demonstrated the attributes that caught judges’ eyes and resulted in the blue ribbon. Southern Belle and Landry Folsom were awarded the red.

Lyle and Hasbrouck Donovan put down two equally steady, perfectly paced, beautifully flowing rounds. The judges acknowledged the quality of their rounds by honoring the team with the top prizes in both classes. Lyle is a 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Stephanie Keen of Ocala, FL.

Summer Solstice, owned by Don Stewart from Ocala, FL and Ashton Alexander garnered the red ribbon in the first of the two over fences classes. Donovan maneuvered Entourage around the flowing course, demonstrating a classic hunter performance that resulted in the judges’ nod for second place. The championship tricolors went to crowd favorite, Lyle and Donovan, and the reserve honors went to Entourage.

Hanna Marco and CR Moet laid down the winning first round of the over fences portion of the Large Junior Hunters. Fidelia and Donavan returned confidently to the ring for their over fences rounds. The duo earned second place for their first round, then smoothed out the edges and produced a performance to earn the win for the second class resulting in the championship honors. Hanna Marco and CR Moet garnered the Large Junior Hunter Reserve Championship.

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