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“Carly Campbell Cooper and Santa Lucia, winners of the $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur Classic at HITS Ocala.”
Photo credit – Cealy Tetley
Carly Campbell Cooper Claims Championship Title in Ocala

Ocala, Florida – Equestrian athlete Carly Campbell-Copper of Elora, ON, got the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit off to a strong start by claiming the $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur Classic in Ocala, FL.

Campbell Cooper, 21, topped a huge starting field to claim the $5,000 Junior/Amateur Classic held during the HITS Ocala Winter Classic, the first of five consecutive weeks of competition. Riding Santa Lucia, her nine-year-old grey Belgian Warmblood mare, Campbell Cooper was second last to go in the 13-horse jump-off and produced the fastest double clear round.

“There were a lot of competitors, something like 80 horses, and 13 of us had clear rounds to advance to the jump-off,” explained Campbell Cooper, who picked up $1,500 for the victory. “There had only been two double clears in the jump-off and they had gone slow, so I just tried to have neat turns and be efficient.”

The win was significant considering that Campbell Cooper, a third year honours student at McMaster Univeristy in Hamilton, ON, had written her last mid-term exam on Thursday before flying to Ocala, FL, on Friday.

“I hadn’t ridden my mare for two weeks, having been at school while the horses were down in Ocala, so I was happy to start out so well!” noted Campbell Cooper, who is coached by Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill. “We bought Santa Lucia last winter from Eric Lamaze, and while she has quite a big jump, we are starting her off in the Low Junior/Amateur division to give her some exposure before moving her up.”

On Saturday, her first day back in the competition ring, Campbell Cooper took second place in the High Junior/Amateur division riding Napier, a horse she purchased one year ago from Dutch superstar Eric van der Vleuten on the advice of Canadian Olympian Torchy Millar.

“He’s a cool little horse, he’s small, but he’s got a big jump,” said Campbell Cooper of her nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding who barely stands 16hh.

Campbell Cooper also rode Croft Temptation, her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Doliart, in the same class and put in the fastest four-fault effort.

“They both jumped very well,” praised Campbell Cooper. “I was a little tentative, just because I was getting back into the swing of things, but I thought it was a great way to start out the season.”

Campbell Cooper will continue to divide her time between riding and her studies, commuting between university and Florida for the remainder of the HITS Ocala circuit.

Campbell Cooper has enjoyed a successful career as a young rider, competing at the last four consecutive North American Young Riders’ Championships. In 2000, riding as a member of the Ontario Junior Team, she claimed both individual and team gold medals riding Rex Get Busy. Riding as a member of the Ontario Championship Team in 2001, she won an individual bronze in addition to her team silver medal, and followed it up with yet another team silver and a sixth place individually in 2002. In 2003, the Ontario Team scored a major victory by claiming the gold medal, aided by Campbell Cooper’s performance with Croft Temptation.

Campbell Cooper wrapped up the 2003 season by being named the overall winner of the Jump Canada National Talent Squad Series as well as topping the Ontario Rising Star Series, for which she was presented with a brand new truck courtesy of Gary Cooper Chev Olds of Elora, ON. As a potential future member of the Canadian Equestrian Team, Campbell Cooper is also a carded athlete of Sport Canada.



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