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Tampa Bay Classic Attracts Top Riders For First Day of Hunter Competition

RELEASE: March 27, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Amanda Steege and Zidane were among the first blue ribbon winners at the 2013 Tampa Bay Classic, earning the top honors in the High Performance Hunters (Kendall Bierer/Phelps Media Group)
Amanda Steege and Zidane were among the first blue ribbon winners at the 2013 Tampa Bay Classic, earning the top honors in the High Performance Hunters (Kendall Bierer/Phelps Media Group)
Tampa, FL
- Two weeks of top hunter and jumper competition kicked off today at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center as the Tampa Bay Classic got underway, marking the start of the Tampa Equestrian Series.

In the Main Hunter Ring, it was Amanda Steege who claimed the 2013 Tampa Bay Classic's first blue ribbon over fences. Steege and Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh, kicked off their time in Tampa by topping the first class of the High Performance Hunters.

The High Performance Hunters also served as the hopeful launching pad to a successful Tampa circuit for Hunt Tosh. Tosh took control of the handy class aboard Dr. Betsee Parker's Lone Star.

"He went fabulously in the handy," Tosh commented of Lone Star. "With the quarantine in Ocala it held him up, so he hasn't shown since week two there, and that's the only other time that he's shown this winter. Considering that, he was really, really good."

After bringing one mount to Tampa last year, Tosh was extremely impressed with the show, and he decided to return this year with a full winning line up.

"They did a great job running it, and it was a fun time so we, and all of our customers, decided to come this year," Tosh explained. "We're excited to be here for the extent of the circuit."

In addition to Lone Star, among Tosh's winning line-up is Whiskey Blue, owned by Douglas Wheeler. Tosh rode Whiskey Blue to a blue ribbon in this morning's first class of the First Year Green Hunter division, and the pair finished in second in the division's handy class, putting them in a solid position going in to tomorrow's portion of First Year Green Hunter competition.

"He went great for his first class in there, and to be a first year horse and go that well - I was very happy with him," Tosh shared. "He's very scopey, and he's a quiet horse. He went beautifully today."

Also performing strikingly over the Keith Bollotte designed courses was Maximus, owned by Redfield Farms and shown by Adrienne Iverson.

Maximus and Iverson finished the day with two first places and a second in the Conformation Hunters. The well-built, six-year-old American-bred stallion took the blue in Conformation Hunter Model before going over fences to earn the first in the first round and second over the handy course.

"He's such a brave horse. He doesn't spook; he doesn't look at the jumps, and he moves nicely. That's why I kept him a stallion - because he's such a beautiful type," owner Emil Spadone of Redfield Farms said.

Spadone bred and raised the stallion in nearby Ocala, FL, and for him the Tampa Equestrian Series is a definite must on their competition calendar each year.

"I've come here since I was a kid, I love the American Invitational; I don't think I've missed it for twenty years. Every year we plan on coming here for the two full weeks, and we bring everything - ponies, hunters, jumpers, everything," Spadone praised. "The management really treats us nicely, and we just really enjoy it."

Throughout the duration of the Tampa Equestrian Series, Steege, Tosh and Iverson will be among the riders vying for the championship and reserve championship honors in the Professional Hunter divisions, Junior Hunter divisions, and Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions. The event also features the Tampa Series Hunter High Score Circuit Awards in several hunter divisions, which will be awarded during the 41st Annual Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm, at Raymond James Stadium.