Annville, PA - March 26, 2002 - McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, and Puertos Mortero, a 12-year-old Belgian-Warmblood bay gelding, jumped into the winner's circle in the $5,000 1.40m AmeriChoice North American League Challenge during the Tampa Series of the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival held at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. The win pushed Ward to the top of the NAL Open Speed standings.
Ward turned in a clear round over the 15-obstacle jumping course designed by Javier Fernandez of Mexico in 68.120 seconds. Ward, 1998 AGA Rider of the Year, is currently leading the standings for this year, both in the AGA and in the World Cup standings.
Second place in the class at Tampa went to Jeffery Welles of Pound Ridge, NY, on Labelle, an 8-year-old bay mare owned by Sarah Willeman and Turnabout Farm. Their fault-free performance was completed in 70.033 seconds. USA Equestrians 2001 Horseman of the Year Todd Minikus finished third on Pandora. The two turned in a clear round and time of 70.183 seconds, just behind Welles. Minikus is currently second to Ward in the NAL Open Speed standings.
The wins made Ward, Welles and Minikus all eligible to compete in this year's $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday, March 30th
The North American League (NAL) runs season long series in six hunter jumper divisions culminating with a championship final at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in October. The divisions include the Childrens Hunter, Childrens Jumper, Pony Jumper, Adult Hunter, Adult Jumper and the popular Open Jumper Speed.
Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in any qualifying classes, but only current members earn points toward year-end finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, in October.
The annual fee is $20 per rider. Membership must be received at the League Office, within 10 days of the completion of an event for points from that event to count.
Riders may join at a horse show with the show secretary for points from that show to count, however exhibitors are encouraged to mail the application themselves. For more information and a list of qualifying competitions, please see the Ryegate Show Services website at www.ryegate.com.
For more information, please contact Ryegate Show Services at (717) 867-5643, fax to (717) 867-2174 or email to NAL@Ryegate.com. Upcoming shows, along with specifications for all the North American League classes, are available on the web at www.ryegate.com or by contacting the league office.