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Kappler Wins $75,000 Grand Prix Of Tampa At Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival

TAMPA, FL – March 24, 2002 – Chris Kappler of Pittstown, NJ won the $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa - CSI-W, presented by Kilkenny Insurance Company to conclude week nine of the ten-week Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival.

Kappler, 35, and the 12-year-old Trakehner stallion, Rafiki, owned by Greg Obrecht of Fortville, IN, were one of 67 initial horse-and-rider combinations. The duo cleared the 16-obstacle first-round course designed by Javier Fernandez of Mexico, and joined only 4 others in the sudden-death jump-off round. The pair went 4th in the jump-off, following Todd Minikus and Oh Star, who had just become the leaders. Kappler and Rafiki jumped clear and took the lead with a blistering time of 42.87 seconds and then remained unmatched to secure first place. They won $22,500 for their efforts.

The grand prix was the ninth of ten qualifying classes in the U.S. East Coast League for the 2002 World Cup Final to be held in Leipzig, Germany, May 1- 5. The last World Cup qualifier will be held at the Ariat WEF Challenge Cup in Tampa on Thursday March 28.
"Rafiki is my World Cup horse, and he jumped fabulously today," said Kappler. "Rafiki is one of my most talented horses. He has great ride-ability. I'm just teetering on the edge for (qualifying for) the World Cup," he said.
Second place went to USA Equestrian’s 2001 Horseman of the Year Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL. Minikus, winner of the 1997 Budweiser American Invitational, and Oh Star, an 11-year-old Belgium Warmblood stallion, jumped double-clear rounds and crossed the timers in 44.87 seconds in the jump-off. Third place went to 2000 U.S. Equestrian Team Olympic rider, Lauren Hough of Ocala, FL on Windy City, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding. They finished their jump-off round with four faults and a time of 44.00 seconds.

McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, jump-started the Tampa Series of the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival winning the $7,500 Cosequin 1.45m Class. Ward, aboard Sasha, owned by Harry R. Gill of Fairview Village, PA, turned in a clear round over the 14-obstacle jumping course and advanced to the jump-off round, clearing the eight-obstacle course in 37.865 seconds. Ward was the 1998 AGA Rider of the Year and is currently leading the standings for this year. Canadian Mac Cone and his mount, Cocu, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare, was one of only nine horse-and-rider combinations to have double-clear rounds. Their jump-off time was 39.306 seconds for second place. Just behind for a third place finish was Alison Firestone of Upperville, VA on Casanova, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood. They turned in double-clean rounds and a jump-off time of 40.560 seconds.

Jeffery Welles of Pound Ridge, NY took first and second place in the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup – CSI on Jashar, an 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding. They blistered the track with a clear round and a time of 76.810 seconds to take first place. Wells and Jashar, owned by Cayce Harrison of Burr Ridge, IL and trained by Missy Clark, were one of 61 initial horse-and-rider combinations to jump the 16-obstacle speed course. Welles and RANSOM, a 10 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Alex Carl and trained by Lynn Little of RayLyn Farms, Inc. of Frederick, MD, are new to one another. This was only the fourth week that Welles has been riding Ransom. The duo had a fault-free performance and stopped the timers in 78.350 seconds for second place. Third place went to Vanessa Haas aboard Cinoa.

Ward and Puertos Mortero, a 12 year-old Belgian-Warmblood gelding, jumped into the winner's circle in the $5,000 1.40m AmeriChoice North American League Challenge. Ward turned in a clear round over the 15-obstacle jumping course in 68.120 seconds. Ward is currently leading in the AGA, the World Cup and the NAL Open Speed standings. Second place went to Welles on Labelle, an 8-year-old mare owned by Sarah Willeman and Turnabout Farm. Their fault-free performance was completed in 70.033 seconds. Minikus finished third up on Pandora. The two turned in a clear round and time of 70.183 seconds.

U.S. Equestrian Team veteran, Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, rode the ten-year-old, Hanovarian grey gelding, Cloud Nine, to victory in the $10,000 Cosequin 1.50m Classic. Madden was one of seven riders out of a starting field of 37 to turn in double-clear rounds and she had the fastest jump-off time of 30.93 seconds. Candice King of Wellington, FL, cleared the jump-off track in 31.78 seconds aboard Elu De La Hardiere earning the second place spot. Third place went to John Popely of Great Britain who finished in 32.83 seconds up on Gemini De Terlong.

The 2002 Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival offers 3 million in total prizes during its series that runs in Wellington, FL (January 23-March 10) and Tampa, FL (March 13-March 31). The Festival hosts the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday evening, March 30. The series then returns to Wellington for the culminating event-the American Grandprix Association Championship-April 3-7.

For more information on the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival and all the exciting events and activities, please call Stadium Jumping, Inc. at (813) 253-2782 or in Wellington at (561) 793-JUMP or visit

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