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Vermont Summer Festival Attracts Show Jumping’s Top Athletes

East Dorset, VT—July 2, 2002—Show Jumping’s biggest names will be on hand to contest the 2002 Vermont Summer Festival, taking place July 10 - August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm, in East Dorset, VT.

Among the international riders in attendance will be Canadian Show Jumping Team rider and Olympic veteran Mario Deslauriers, who placed third in the $35,000 Mad River Grand Prix at the Vermont Summer Festival last year and will be looking to improve on his placing this time around.

Although just 37 years old, the Canadian rider first made his mark on the international scene in 1984 when he won the World Cup Final at the age of 19, becoming the youngest rider to ever claim the title. That same year, Deslauriers, a two-time Canadian Show Jumping champion, was involved in a jump-off for the individual bronze medal at the Los Angeles Olympics. Deslauriers also competed at the 1988 Olympic Games, where the Canadian team placed fourth, and the 1990 World Equestrian Games. Hot off his win in the $60,000 World Cup Qualifier in his hometown of Bromont, Quebec, as well as a victory in the $77,700 Grand Prix of Gulfport in Mississippi earlier this year riding Everest, Deslauriers is prime for another win in Vermont.

Another rider hot off victory is 40-year-old Mark Leone of Oakland, NJ. The youngest of three show jumping brothers, Leone recently won the $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Lake Placid riding Pinkata de Longpre. In 2001, Leone was victorious in the $75,000 Ford Idle Dice Classic at the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. A two-time World Cup Final veteran, Leone will be hard to beat in Vermont.

Debbie Dolan-Sweeney of Oyster Bay, NY, will also be hungry for a win at the Vermont Summer Festival. The first American to ever win the British Ladies Show Jumping Championship, Dolan-Sweeney is a threat in any grand prix event. She has twice won the Hampton Classic Grand Prix, one of the United States’ most prestigious events. A graduate of Fairfield University, Dolan-Sweeney has represented the United States in four World Cup Finals.

Mary Lisa Leffler, who is successful in both the hunter and show jumping rings, has been on fire in 2002. With a win in the $25,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix already under her belt, Leffler can also call on her 2001 experience when she claimed victory in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix in Ocala, FL, riding Kick The Clouds and the Vermont Summer Festival’s $35,000 Mad River Festival Grand Prix aboard Graf Rossini S. Always a contender at the Vermont Summer Festival, Leffler was also victorious in 2000, winning the $30,000 Valley Classic Grand Prix with Graf Rossini S. As the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’.

Connecticut-based Jeffrey Welles, 40, has been nearly unstoppable this season. His long list of accomplishments in 2002 includes wins in the $75,000 EMO Grand Prix and the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, both in Ellenville, NY. Major wins in recent years include the $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Lake Placid aboard S & L Riviera in 2000. Welles will be looking to add another feather to his cap at the Vermont Summer Festival.

With five weeks of competition, each boasting a USET-recognized $35,000 Grand Prix and a $10,000 Mini Prix as well as a $10,000 Show Jumping Hall Of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class, part of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series, the cream is sure to rise to the top and many of these international stars will likely make at least one trip to the winner’s circle to collect the blue ribbon, not to mention their fair share of generous prize money.

The Vermont Summer Festival, which is New England’s largest “AA” rated hunter-jumper horse show circuit, kicks off with the Manchester Summer Festival, July 10-14. The action continues with the Manchester Classic, July 17-21, The Valley Classic, July 24-28, and the Manchester and the Mountains Horse Show, July 31-August 4. The action culminates with the Vermont Summer Celebration, August 7-11.

For further information, please visit the Vermont Summer Festival website at or call 802-496-4878.


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