Purina Mills Brings Team USA Together With Continued Sponsorship for Challenge of the Americas

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wellington, FL - February 27, 2009 - Challenge of the Americas is pleased to have Purina Mills returning for its fourth year of sponsorship for the USA quadrille team. The 8th Annual Challenge of the Americas will be held on March 7, 2009, at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, FL. A star studded group of professional dressage horse and rider combinations are busy preparing for the big night.

Purina Mills remains a dedicated sponsor for Challenge of the Americas and the USA quadrille team, which is officially known as Team Purina Mills USA.  This year's competition will consist of two quadrille teams competing for top honors, including Team Purina Mills USA and Team International The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch. Team Purina Mills USA will include dressage riders Betsy Steiner, Pamela Goodrich, John Zapati, James Koford, Chris Hickey, and George Williams.  Team International The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch will include riders Marco Bernal, Patrick Burssens, Heather Bender, Shannon Dueck, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, and Juan Matute.

Carlos Muñoz, Purina Mills Account Manager and Equine Specialist for South Florida, is proud of his company's devotion to supporting Challenge of the Americas and its cause. For eight consecutive years this event has served as a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to preventing and finding a cure for breast cancer through clinical and genetic research in Palm Beach County, the United States, and abroad.

"I am proud to sponsor this team. They are great people and great riders. I like that they give time to do this and to support people who have breast cancer," Muñoz continued. "There have been people in my family with breast cancer, so it is a good way for me to help."

"We are trying to collect money for breast cancer research, so at the end of the day, that is the most important thing," Muñoz acknowledged. "We really like contributing to such a good cause. Since the first day we have been very involved and the CEO from Purina Mills, Fernando Palacios, always comes to the events. He has a good time and he always enjoys watching the competition and seeing all of the riders. I think we will continue to be involved here for as long as they want us."

Purina Mills not only supports the challenge and what it represents, but they also truly enjoy being a part of the experience. "I love everything about the challenge and I think it is a great event," Muñoz said. "Everybody brings top horses and they work hard to put on a good show. The party is great and I think that Mary Ross works very hard to have a nice event. It is very classy, but at the same time we have a lot of fun."

Team Purina Mills USA has been practicing their quadrille performance for the past six weeks at Havensafe Farm South, which is owned by Elizabeth Juliano. All of Team Purina Mills USA members agree that helping the fight against breast cancer is the most important reason for participating in the event. They also all agree that being part of a team is what makes it so much fun.

"Every year I say that same thing, I like the camaraderie," stated George Williams. "The practices are almost the best part. There is so much camaraderie amongst the riders and it is just a lot of fun."

John Zapati commented, "It is a lot of fun and all of the professionals that are doing this work really hard. We all work long hours and it is a hard thing for everybody to have the time to come here, so it is nice that we can have so much fun. I love my partner, Betsy Steiner, and I love joking around and making it a little bit fun."

James Koford, a new addition to Team Purina Mills USA this year, agreed. "I am looking forward to riding at night under the lights with a group of great friends, great riders and great horses," Koford said. "I think it will be fun to be involved.  This is my first full season down here, so it is great to get a chance to see riders outside of the shows. It is fun to have some time together when we are not under the pressure of a competition."

Before the team quadrille competition, the challenge will also feature many new and exciting performances from some of the world's top equestrians. The opening ceremonies will feature Susan Jaccoma, who has long been one of America's leading dressage trainers, riding a patriotic freestyle performance. Following the opening ceremonies, champion dressage rider and trainer Oded Shimoni and western reining champion Jon Ingram will match up, riding against one another in an exciting exhibition. Other special presentations will include distinguished dressage rider Jane Hannigan showcasing an individual freestyle performance, and Olympians Ashley Holzer and Courtney King performing an impressive Pas de Deux.

The Challenge Gala, an elegant evening of dinner and dancing, will get underway immediately following the "The Challenge of the Americas" competition. An awards presentation will be featured and guests will have the chance to meet and socialize with riders and judges.

2009 Challenge of the Americas - Ticket and Table Reservations
The 2009 Challenge of the Americas Presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach will be held on Saturday night, March 7, 2009, at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, FL. To make reservations for the Challenge Gala & VIP Box Seating, contact Mary Ross at 561-852-2591.  General Admission tickets can be purchased at the gate on the evening of the event.

For more information on Challenge of the Americas, please visit www.challengeoftheamericas.com.