Tampa, FL - April 6, 2012 - The country's most skilled junior riders competed in the Main Hunter Ring today, 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. In the Small Junior Hunter Division, Hasbrouck Donovan piloted veteran hunter, Lyle to the championship, winning both over fences classes. Entourage, skillfully ridden by Donovan over fences was awarded the reserve championship.
In the Large Junior Hunter Division, Fidelia, also ridden by Donovan, demonstrated her consistency by putting in another day of solid performances and was honored with the Large Junior Hunter Championship. Hanna Marco guided CR Moet to the Reserve Championship.
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. A beloved fixture in the show ring, Lyle has been a consistent Small Junior Hunter competitor year after year. "Lyle is so fun to ride. He's done so much and he knows so much. I am so fortunate to be able to show him" shared Donovan.
Amanda Steege commented, "As a non-involved party, it is amazing to get to watch Lyle at this point in his career. For so many years, I've stood ring side and watched him and he looks as good as ever to me. Everybody gets so excited to see him go. He's so consistent and his jump is so good. He just looks like he enjoys being out there." Steege continued, "We were joking the other day that they're trying to get him qualified for Devon. He shouldn't have to qualify. He should just get an invite, because he deserves to get there. Congratulations to Lyle and Stephanie and his family for the great care they give him to keep him going this long."
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.
The under saddle class kicked off the Large Junior Hunters and Fidelia, also owned by Redfield Farm in Califon, NJ and expertly ridden by Hasbrouck Donovan, repeated yesterday's winning performance. CR Moet, a Baden-Wurrttenberger Warmblood gelding owned by 2011 ASPCA Maclay Champion Sarah Milliren of Sapula, OK and capably shown by Hanna Marco won the second place ribbon. "She's really light and super fun to ride. I really like her," shared Donovan about Fidelia. "This is only my second time showing her."
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.
Trainer Don Stewart shared, "Hanna Marco is a really nice kid, it's really great to see her do so well. She's a good sport and she's nice to be around." Then he joked, " She actually found the show every day and found the jumps!"
"We enjoyed the show thoroughly. We always like Tampa because there are good restaurants around town and we also like the indoor. I've been coming here for 35 years, so it's old home week for me. We are looking forward to the Invitational tonight, which I've watched now for forty years! It's my favorite class. The closest I ever came to it was in the Parade of Champions!" laughed Stewart. "Stadium Jumping does such a nice job. We always feel welcomed."
Tonight, The Tournament of Champions will conclude as the action moves to Raymond James Stadium for the 40th Annual $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm. During the Tampa Equestrian Series, riders had the opportunity to earn championship and reserve championship honors in the Professional Hunter divisions, Junior Hunter divisions, and Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions. The event also featured the Tampa Series Hunter High Score Circuit Awards in several hunter divisions.
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.
Photos: Lyle and Hasbrouck Donovan; Fidelia and Hasbrouck Donovan; Hanna Marco and CR Moet. Photos By: Carrie Wirth /PMG.