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Gold Medal Pan Am Team Heads List of Show Jumping’s Best Set to Compete at $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational Presented by the Tampa Tribune

Tampa, Florida—March 11, 2004—The four riders who won the team Gold Medal for the United States at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republican head the list of 30 riders expected to compete in show jumping’s most prestigious event, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, presented by Publix and the Tampa Tribune, when it returns to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, on Saturday night, April 3.

As the Pan Am Gold Medalists—Chris Kappler of Pittstown, NJ; Margie Engle of Wellington, FL; Lauren Hough, also of Wellington; and Beezie Madden of Cazenovia NY—all receive an automatic berth in this year’s showdown at the stadium. Kappler, who also won the individual Silver at the Pan Am Games, is the defending champion of the Invitational and will be looking to become only the third rider (joining Michelle McEvoy and Molly Ashe) to win the title two straight years.

Engle, who won the individual Bronze at Pan Am last summer, suffered a broken leg during Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) competition in Wellington on Friday the 13th of February and there is much speculation as to whether or not she will be able to return in time for this year’s event.

The $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational is often referred to as the “Super Bowl of Show Jumping” and it is the culminating event of the Winter Equestrian Festival, a 10-week show jumping series that hosts horses and riders from all over the United States and several other countries. Thousands of classes are held during the Festival and it is the highlight of the winter months for many riders in the hunter and jumper disciplines.

In addition to the Pan Am team, other top Grand Prix riders are hoping to qualify for the 32nd annual $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational. Although hundreds of riders all hope for the chance to ride in one of the biggest events in all equestrian sport, only 30 are invited. Invitations are issued to the top four riders in the 2003/2004 American Grandprix Association (AGA) Rider of the Year standings (as of March 28, 2004); two riders nominated by the Organizing Show Committee; and the top money-earners in the $230,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series.

One characteristic that distinguishes the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational from other show jumping events is that each rider may compete on only one horse, a rule that has not wavered since its initiation in 1975.

At the Budweiser American Invitational, the stands fill up with 20,000 horse-loving fans that come to watch the best of the best compete for the $60,000 first place prize. Spectators travel from all over to see the top horses and riders battle it out under the lights of Raymond James Stadium, home of the 2003 Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Many memorable rides have been turned in at this invitation-only event. Some of these rides include Melanie Smith’s mad dash to the finish to gain the win on Calypso in 1982 and Greg Best’s ride on the legendary Gem Twist in 1989 when the pair took first place less than one year after their double-Silver medal performance at the 1988 Olympic Games.

Kappler, who last year on Royal Kaliber defeated the two-time defending champion Molly Ashe, will be returning to the Budweiser American Invitational this year hoping for a third overall victory. “I am really excited to be able to go back to Raymond James Stadium for the 2004 Budweiser American Invitational,” said Kappler whose 2003 win followed his win in 1995 aboard Seven Wonder when he rode the only clear round and eliminated the need for a jump-off.

A highlight of every year’s Budweiser American Invitational is the induction of equestrian luminaries into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. Last year’s inductees were two of show jumping’s most well respected horsemen, Harry R. Gill and Clarence L. “Honey” Craven, and two show jumping legends, Frank Chapot’s Gem Twist and Melanie Smith Taylor’s Calypso. The two men and the two Olympic medal-winning horses contributed so much to equestrian sports and they will now be honored forever. Gem Twist was present at the induction, bouncing around in his gleaming silver coat. Melanie Smith Taylor flew in from Memphis to proudly accept the award on behalf of her deceased mount Calypso, “Lyps”.

Year after year, history has been made at the Budweiser American Invitational. From when it was the first jumping competition to be held underneath stadium lights in 1974, to when it received the official sponsorship by Anheuser-Busch in 1979, to the CBS coverage of the American Invitational in 1986, the Invitational has evolved to be one of the premier show jumping events in the world. Another history-making moment could happen this year at the Budweiser American Invitational. Who will be named the winner, and what history will be made this year is not yet certain, but one sure thing is that this year’s event will again provide us with thrills and excitement.


Show days for the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival are Wednesday through Sunday. Gates open at 8:00 am. Ticket Prices: Wednesdays are free to everyone; Children 12 and under are admitted free every day; Young Adults 13 to 18 and Seniors are $5 on Thursday through Sunday; Adults are $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. The Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club is located on Pierson Road off South Shore Boulevard. For additional information, visit or call 561-793-5867.

For ticket information for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational Presented by Publix and The Tampa Tribune, visit


March 18 – 21 Zada Enterprises WEF Dressage Classic CDI***/Y

(Qualifier for Olympic Selection Trials)

March 24 - 28 Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)

March 30 - April 3 Tournament of Champions CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)

April 3 Budweiser American Invitational (Raymond James Stadium)


March 28 $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, presented by Kilkenny/ICH, CSI-W

April 3 $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational,

Presented by Publix and The Tampa Tribune


Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

April 9 -11 Charlotte Jumper Classic CSI****

April 11 $150,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte For the Charlotte Bobcat Cup


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