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Kappler Wins $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational to Culminate Winter Equestrian Festival

Tampa, FL—April 2, 2003— The $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, March 29, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, capped off eleven weeks of intense competition, which comprised the Winter Equestrian Festival. The event, which crowned Chris Kappler of Pittstown, NJ, aboard Royal Kaliber champion of the evening, put an exclamation point on an already incredible circuit.

In the final week of competition in Florida, the Tournament of Champions CSI-W, March 25-29, Chris Kappler and Royal Kaliber, a horse he co-owns with Kathy Kamine, won the winter’s most highlighted event. Kappler topped a star-studded field of riders representing Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the United States to win one of the largest purses in all of show jumping, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational.

Kappler rode two clear rounds over a demanding course designed by Steve Stephens of Wellington, FL, to win over the 30 horse-and-rider combinations who attempted the first round course. Kappler was the only rider out of eight who qualified for the jump-off to produce a clear round in the jump-off. Finishing behind Kappler, with four faults in the jump-off was Meredith Beerbaum and Shutterfly, owned by Hyperion Farm. Anne Kursinski and Eros took third place.

The final week of competition in Florida also hosted the final $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup, which served as the last East Coast League qualifier for the Budweiser World Cup. Laura Kraut piloted May, owned by Pasmore Stables, over a course designed by Mehves Trak of Turkey to win the class over the 33 horse-and-rider combinations that entered. Seven horses jumped clear in the first round to qualify to jump again in the jump-off round, but it was Kraut who finished in the fastest time with no faults. Lesle Howard and Priobert De Kalvarie crossed through the timers just slightly slower than Kraut to earn second place in the class.

The previous week, at the Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W***, March 19-23, the first week of competition at the winter circuit’s Tampa location, the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, it was McLain Ward who took top honors. There were 35 entries in the week’s highlighted event, the $60,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, CSI***W presented by Kilkenny Insurance Agency/ICH, but it was Ward who bested the field aboard Viktor, a horse he co-owns with Harry Gill. Although Ward had consistently been earning top ribbons in Sunday classes in Florida, this marked his first 2003 Florida grand prix win. Finishing in second place was Candice King aboard Caliskan, owned by Louisburg Farm, LLC.

Beginning in January, the Winter Equestrian Festival offered eleven weeks of high-level competition in the sun. The show grounds of the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club as well as the show grounds in Tampa will now lie dormant until next year. However, the excitement of the 31st season of the Winter Equestrian Festival will inspire riders to come back to Florida in 2004. At the Budweiser American Invitational, all circuit champions were honored in a parade in a final celebration of the successes of horses and riders throughout the 2003 circuit. A list of circuit champions is attached.

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


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