Tampa, FL - It was a beautiful day as the professional hunter divisions wrapped up their second day of competition in the Main Hunter Ring at the Tournament of Champions in Tampa, FL. Once again the Stadium Jumping team hosted a wonderful horse show at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Dominating the Green Conformation Hunter division was Molly Sewell and Marquis, who took home five blue ribbons. Landing the reserve championship ribbon for the Green Conformation Hunters was Mary Lisa Leffler and Just Dessert, owned by Stephanie Wallace.
Earning the championship rosette in the Regular Working Hunter division was Amanda Steege and Endo Fino, while Mary Eufemia and Paula Pell's horse Unbelievable attained the reserve championship prize.
Molly Sewell and Marquis added today's blue ribbons in the Green Conformation Hunter over fences class and the Green Conformation hunter stake class, to yesterday's wins including the Green Conformation model, the Green Conformation Hunter over fences class, and the Green Conformation handy hunter class. Sewell rode the eight-year-old gelding Marquis for owner Lee Cesery of Jacksonville, FL.
Sewell enjoyed today's courses with Marquis and remarked, "My courses were very consistent with Marquis. He did not have any issues and was quite smooth."
The duo has been working together in the Green Conformation hunters throughout this year. Their list of accomplishments includes the 2010 Green Conformation Hunter Circuit Championship at the Jacksonville horse show in February. Sewell explained, "Marquis is a horse that is a little forward, has plenty of scope, and plenty of stride. He also has a beautiful jump so if you place him within range of the jump he always fires and jumps really well."
Besides Sewell, Marquis' owner Lee Cesery has been competing with the talented gelding in the Amateur-Owner 3'3" division. Cesery has been riding Marquis for almost a year now and has been stepping into the 3'6" division.
Tampa is a horse show that Sewell has always enjoyed attending. She commented, "I really like Tampa. The weather is usually cooperative and it is a relaxing show compared to other circuits." After the Tournament of Champions, Sewell will be taking a week off before traveling to Ocala in April and then preparing for the Devon horse show.
Winning the championship ribbon in the Regular Working Hunter division was top trainer Amanda Steege and Endo Fino, owned by Lisa Arena. The pair insured the championship prize with two first place ribbons in yesterday's over fences class and handy hunter class, as well as a blue in today's over fences class, and a second place in the hunter stake class
Steege appreciated today's course design, which was done by Robert McCune. She expressed, "I thought the courses rode very nicely. They were smooth and the jumps were nicely decorated, which I love to see in the hunter rings."
Endo Fino and Steege just recently began showing together in the Regular Working Hunters. She noted, " I was very happy how Fish went. We have not shown in the Regular Working Hunters often but Fish is doing so well. Each class he seemed to become more relaxed, and would jump higher and loftier. That type of ride is a good feeling as a rider. Fish is a great horse to ride because he has a soft and sensitive mouth and does not require any additional aids such as spurs. When he is in the class he definitely looks for the jumps. I always feel him helping me when I turn the corner as if to look to where he needs to go. For the most part I try to stay soft so I do not interfere with him. I just think about staying straight and trying to keep one nice smooth pace."
Steege has been riding Endo Fino in the Regular Working Hunters to prepare this horse for future shows with Lisa Arena. Arena has been showing her horse in the 3'3" Amateurs with hopes to move up to the 3'6" height. The pair has had multiple wins including the 2010 Circuit Champion in Ocala this year in the 3'3" division. Lisa is looking forward to showing him at Devon since this is the first year that Devon is including the 3'3" Amateurs. Steege is hoping to qualify in the Regular Working Hunters so she can use her rounds as practice prior to Arena and Endo Fino entering the ring.
Steege has appreciated participating in the Tampa Equestrian Festival. She said, "The show personnel do a good job at this show and I really look forward to coming here. I think the facility is really nice; it is well maintained and clean. The footing is great and the Stadium Jumping team does a fantastic job with making sure the rings stay watered and dragged. They also provide us with really kind in-gate individuals and great awards. It feels special when you win here!"
She continued, "I also enjoy having a show in the city of Tampa. There is more for everyone to do suchas nice restaurants, you can go to Bush Gardens, and it is easy to fly in and out of the show."
After the Tampa Equestrian Festival Steege's team will head back to Ocala to regroup and let the horses relax. After a short rest the team heads back to New Jersey, which is where they will spend their summer prior to the Garden State Horse Show and the Devon Horse Show.
The Tournament of Champions will continue through April 10 at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Tomorrow, the junior riders will have the opportunity to compete in the ASPCA Maclay and the Pessoa USEF Hunt Seat classes.
For more information about the Tampa Equestrian Festival please visit www.stadiumjumping.com.
Photo Credit: Champion of the Green Conformation Hunters at the Tournament of Champions at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center. Photo © 2010 Lindsay Y McCall/PMG.