Tampa, FL - March 22, 2011 - An impressive roster of some of the world's best riders will be making their way to the city of Tampa, Florida, to compete in one of the world's premiere show jumping events, the $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational, presented by G & C Farm, scheduled for Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.
The star-studded group of riders is headlined by two-time winners McLain Ward and Beezie Madden. Often paired up on the United States' best show jumping teams, Ward's and Madden's resumes include scores of world-wide honors when competing together, including two Olympic Team Gold Medals in Athens Greece in 2004 and in Hong Kong in 2008, and a World Equestrian Games Silver Medal in Aachen, Germany, in 2006.
In Tampa however, Ward and Madden will do battle head to head, each trying to notch that elusive third career victory in one of show jumping's toughest challenges.
Only two riders in the thirty-eight year history of the American Invitational, often called the Super Bowl of Show Jumping, have entered the winner's circle three times. Katie Prudent scored wins in 1983, 1985 and again in 1988, while Chris Kappler led the victory gallop in 1995, 2003 and in 2009.
McLain Ward, early in his career, triumphed aboard Twist du Valon in 1998, and then returned to the winner's circle in 2008 aboard his superstar mare and Olympic partner Sapphire. In 2005, Sapphire finished fifth. A year later in 2006 she was seventh, and in 2007, in an incredible jump-off against Beezie Madden and Authentic, Ward missed the win by an unbelievable 18/100ths of second.
Madden, prior to that electrifying win in 2007, hit pay dirt in two years earlier in 2005, also on Authentic.
Speaking of decorated Olympians, Canada's amazing Ian Millar, a ten-time Olympic veteran, will try and post his second career American Invitational win at Raymond James Stadium on April 9th. Millar previously cashed in back in 1992 on his celebrated show jumping partner, Big Ben. Millar finished third just three years ago.
Also in the line-up for this year's event are the other three riders that represented the United States at last year's World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky. Joining McLain Ward are his WEG teammates Lauren Hough, Mario Deslauriers and Candice King.
The winningest rider in American Show Jumping history has never been able to claim the American Invitational title. Will this be the year for Margie Engle? With nearly 200 career grand prix wins on her amazing resume, the Invitational is one title that has eluded her over the course of her career.
Other top American riders on the roster include Georgina Bloomberg, Aaron Vale, and last year's runner-up Peter Leone.
The Jayne family sends three riders to the post. Charlie will be joined by sisters Maggie and Haylie, and Canada's Ian Millar will compete against son Jonathon and daughter Amy in the Saturday night family affair at Raymond James Stadium.
This year's $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational, presented by G & C Farm, will have a distinct international flair as well, as riders from Canada, France, Great Britain, Russia and Venezuela will all take a chance as they compete over the always challenging course designed by Olympic Course Designer Steve Stephens of Palmetto, Florida.
Continuing the family theme, the foreign rider roster is highlighted by the father daughter duo of Michel and Marie Hecart of France.
Over the years, the American Invitational has been recognized as the crown jewel of American show jumping, and year in and year out, has been one of its toughest tests.
The Invitational is proud to recognize our sponsors Land Rover Tampa, Johnson Horse Transportation, ESP, Lifeforce for Alltech, Horseware Ireland, Gold & Diamond Source, Innisbrook, Boomer Bents & Bikes and AtLast for their outstanding support and generosity.
The event takes place on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. The gates at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium open at 6:30 p.m. Included will be the always popular public course walk, during which the award winning Glee Show Choir from Tampa's King High School will perform.
Prior to the event, parking lot #6 will open at 3:30 pm for a special Mane Event Party, featuring a JustWorld Horseless Horse Show hosted by Q105 radio's Nikki Cruz and the Q105 mobile station.
Also on the evening agenda will be the elegant Parade of Breeds, a Segway demonstration of the course walk will take place and the Tampa Police Mounted Patrol Color Guard will be on hand as well.
Just prior to the jump-off, there will be a special performance by Arabian Nights. Also featured that night will be the 2011 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and presentation of the USET Foundations Maxine Beard Award for Developing Riders in Grand Prix sports. Prizes will be awarded for the winning riders' cheering sections. Each section of the Stadium will be assigned a rider before the Parade of Riders, later, those sitting in winning section will receive a prize.
Tickets on sale now at www.stadiumjumping.com. For more information, call (800) 237-8924.
PHOTO CREDITS: ©Randi Muster - McLain Ward and Sapphire and Beezie Madden with Authentic at the American Invitational in Tampa. ©Kenneth Kraus - Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Ian Millar following the 2007 American Invitational.