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Lee Cesery and Elizabeth Degolian Lead the Way in Tournament of Champions Amateur-Owners

Lee Cesery and Swagger. Photos by Emily Riden.

Tampa, FL – April 4, 2013 – Dreary skies and persistent heavy rain didn’t deter hunter riders from today’s classes at the Tournament of Champions. Instead, the day of bad weather simply granted riders a change of venue at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center as they moved from the traditional outdoor hunter rings, indoors to the Charlie Lykes Arena.

Under the cover of the arena, Lee Cesery bested the day’s field of Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunters aboard Swagger. The pair finished first over the initial of the two courses designed by Robert McCune and second in the handy class.

“I just bought Swagger the second or third week of HITS Ocala. I did him in the Adults one week, and then we moved him up to the 3’3″. He’s been great, and he gets better every week,” Cesery shared regarding the 9-year-old Hanoverian, known around the barn as Bentley.

Cesery also competed in the same division aboard her second mount, Marquis, finishing third in the first over fences class with him.

“You have to be a little more aggressive with Marquis than with Bentley. He can be a little looky. He’s very careful, but he’s got that little bit of a look,” Cesery mentioned. “Being in this indoor is probably good practice for the future.”

Finishing just ahead of Cesery to earn the blue ribbon in today’s Amateur-Owner 35 and Over handy class were Robin Swinderman and Inxs.

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Elizabeth Degolian and Quite Simply

In the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters, Elizabeth Degolian is leading the way in this week’s division point standings after finishing first and second in today‚Äôs classes aboard her mount, Quite Simply. Degolian has owned Quite Simply, or “Teddy,” for about a year, and the seasoned horse was unfazed by the new show ring today.

“He’s just a good horse. He’s happiest if you’re just really soft and loose. He’s really brave, and he’s been a lot of places so I thought he’d probably be pretty good in here,” Degolian explained. “I was debating whether or not to do a warm-up round, and I decided that he’d be okay and sure enough he was wonderful!”

The handy course over which Degolian and Quite Simply earned the blue, opened over a trot jump at the far end of the arena, off of which riders took a tight turn to the left around to a three fence diagonal line that finished with a vertical-oxer in-and-out. From there riders continued on the right lead down the outside line before coming to a finish over a long bending line across the opposite diagonal.

“I thought they rode really nice and everything felt good. Everything was right on, and the courses were well done and the footing was well done,” Degolian expounded. “I like this horse show because it’s really well run and really laid back.”

Also earning a blue ribbon in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter division were Alexis Silvernale and Bryant Park, finishing first in the division’s opening class. All riders in the two Amateur-Owner sections will return to the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center tomorrow to compete in the three remaining classes in each of their respective divisions. The five-day Tournament of Champions is the second portion of the two week Tampa Equestrian Series. The ‘AA’ rated show includes classes for juniors, children and professionals a like.

For more information on the Tournament of Champions, the Tampa Equestrian Series and Stadium Jumping, visit www.StadiumJumping.com.

Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

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