Tampa, FL - Sunday, April 1, 2012 -The Covered Arena was alive with an energetic buzz as riders gathered to compete for the top honors on the concluding day of the Tampa Bay Classic held at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, FL. Juniors and Amateurs alike gathered for the chance to compete for the championship title of the afternoon's divisions. It was Elizabeth Bates and Monsieur Taloubet who came out triumphant in the $2,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
A field of 17 riders showed over the challenging course designed by Canada's Michel Vaillancourt. The imposing labyrinth of obstacles tested riders with a liverpool, vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination and an oxer-vertical double combination. The course was set in almost a serpentine, with riders having to pilot their mounts through tight turns, sharp rollbacks and varying distances. Only four were able to master the first course and continue into the grueling jump-off.
Landrie Folsom was the first of the riders to return to the arena. She expertly guided Santa Teresita Fantasma, owned by Don Stewart of Ocala, FL, to a double-clear effort in a time of 41.834 seconds. Her time proved too conservative in the end, earning the pair the second place honors.
Next in the ring was Meg O'Mara and Tebow, who posted phenomenal scores in yesterday's divisions. Although the duo had the pace, an unfortunate rail dropped them from the spot of top contender, and earned the third place award. Joy Slater and Silvester took home the fourth place honors.
Elizabeth Bates and Monsieur Taloubet proved that they were a force to be reckoned with. She entered the ring with one thing on her mind, speed. She saw the opportunity to master the course following a similar plan to that of Folsom; however, she knew that her horse could cut out a few seconds with inside turns. Her plan was a success as Bates broke the beam in 39.304 seconds and nabbed the championship.
"I am really happy with today, I have a bit of a tricky horse to ride, but today he was so rideable, so I really have no complaints," Bates stated. "With him I need to make sure that I sit very still and I follow him rather than bracing myself against him. It is important to keep him calm and relaxed."
The afternoon continued with the $7,500 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic where Elizabeth Bates and Marvelous 6 rode their way to the top. The horse and rider combinations steadily dwindled as they attempted the first round course. Six combinations prevailed, making a viable jump-off.
The short course was no different than the other divisions of the day; however, a Land Rover vertical proved to be a difficult feat. The obstacle was only introduced in the short track, and four of the six found fault at its base. Bates provided a speedy jump-off, leaving all rails intact as she stopped the clock at 37.900 seconds. Darby Toben and Virgin Media were the last to compete over the track, providing the only other double-clear effort and taking the second place honors.
"The vertical was actually the least of my concern," Bates described. "I saw that a lot of the other riders were having problems with it, but I knew that I had to focus more on my horse's strengths and weaknesses. She is a little spooky, so I showed her the hedges, and as for the slice to the vertical, we have been practicing that for a long time so it came very naturally."
"I love coming to Tampa, it's been a bit since the last time I was here, but my horses perform so well here. I definitely plan on coming back. It is such an amazing feeling to have won both prestigious classes on the last day, especially just before the start of the Grand Prix. I had so much fun on both of my horses and I look forward to next week," Bates concluded.
The Tampa Equestrian Series' first week, the Tampa Bay Classic concludes today, with the $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier CSI 2*-W Grand Prix of Tampa-the final qualifying event for the 2012 World Cup Finals in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. The 40th Annual $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational, presented by G&C Farm, will be the highlight event on the final day of the series, the Tournament of Champions CSI, to be held April 7, 2012, at the Raymond James Stadium. The world's top horses and riders will gather to compete under the lights during one of the premier show jumping events in the United States.
For more information on Stadium Jumping, Inc. and the 2012 Tampa Equestrian Series please call (941) 744-5465. To download a copy of the prize list, please visit www.stadiumjumping.com.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Bates rode Monsieur Taloubet to the championship with their speedy and accurate double-clear effort in the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.