Tampa, FL - March 29, 2012 - Riders gathered at the Covered Arena early this morning to welcome the second day of the Tampa Equestrian Series at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The morning was filled with anticipation as some of the nation's top riders took their turn at the technical track of the Open Jumper classes. Nicholas Dello Joio and Geledimar Z were the big winners, claiming the victory in the 1.40m Open Jumper class with the fastest clear effort. In the 1.30m Open jumper class, it was Elizabeth Bates and Marvelous 6 that took home the blue ribbon after completing a quick and clear jump-off.
Michel Vaillancourt of Canada was the course designer for today's events in the Covered Arena, and he tested riders with a liverpool, vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination and a vertical-oxer double combination. The riders were then asked to continue into the jump-off where they would be challenged by tough rollbacks, the vertical-oxer double combination and tight inside turns.
During the 1.40m Open Jumpers, only two riders were able to master the speed track without fault. Jonathan McCrea and Twisther, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stable of East Windsor, CT, were the first to do so, wearing a target on their back for the speedy time of 34.499. It seemed as though their time would stick; however, Dello Joio and Geledimar Z, owned by Wembley Farms, Inc. of Wellington, FL, were up for the morning's challenge. The pair also jumped clean, and since they opted for all inside turns and used a speedy pace to their advantage, they beat McCrea's time by nearly three seconds, crossing the finish line at 31.764 seconds and earning the blue.
"I wanted my horses to be ready for this weekend and the upcoming Grand Prix events," Dello Joio explained. "Geledimar Z is a quick mare, and if I open her up and let her go she is usually pretty fast. Today she proved to be the fastest."
Dello Joio also posted a second double-clear effort aboard Notre Star de la Nutria, owned by La Nutria of Wellington, FL, taking the third place honors for leaving all fences standing, but earning one time fault for their conservative round. Aaron Vale and Honeyland's Douglasan, owned by Doug's Crew of Morriston, FL, had the fastest four-fault time, breaking the beam at 36.211 seconds. Vorst with Michael Morrissey in the irons was awarded the fifth place ribbon for their efforts in the Open Jumpers.
"My family has been coming to Tampa forever. It is a great show and although I haven't been here in a couple years, I decided to get out of Wellington and have a nice change of pace. They do a fantastic job here, the location is perfect, the footing feels good and the courses are great, Michel does a wonderful job," Dello Joio described.
Earlier in the morning, the 1.35m Open Jumper class saw fierce competition as riders battled for the top slot. Elizabeth Bates and Marvelous 6 of Toronto, Ontario, showed the way to the top of the leader board. The competitive duo were only the second to attempt the course, leaving all rails in their cups and stopping the clock at 33.56 seconds eventually earning the winning prize.
"I was working on keeping my horse calm and smooth throughout the jump-off, sometimes she can get a little nervous and too quick so we worked on making up time with short turns rather than using a large stride," Bates explained. "She is actually a really light horse and very quick which a re good qualities. She has a very big stride so you cover the ground easily. She is also very careful over the fences. Hopefully I will be moving up with her next week into some of the other divisions."
The only other double-clear effort of the division was Dello Joio and Jagger, falling only two-tenths of a second behind Bates at 33.770 seconds, proving good enough for the second place award. Greg Croick and Landino of Auburn Hills, MI, took the third place honors during the morning's class.
"I haven't been here for several years," Bates concluded. "But I did come here once before when I was younger, and when I heard about the show this year I decided to leap at the opportunity to come back. It is such a fun show and is really well run and put together. It's been a great couple of days."
The first week of the Tampa Bay Classic holds numerous highlights for the jumpers. Tomorrow will introduce the Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumper divisions, seeing riders vie for the championship. Tomorrow night will feature the $32,000 Tampa Bay Welcome Stake beginning at 5 pm with the Welcome Party Cookout. The featured events will continue on Sunday, April 1 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.
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: Nicholas Dello Joio and Geledimar Z left all the rails intact during the 1.40m Open Jumpers at the Tampa Bay Classic in Tampa, FL, breaking the beam at 31.764 seconds and taking home the top award. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.