$200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, CSI*** Set For April 3 In Tampa
WELLINGTON, FL – February 2004 – The crown jewel in the 32nd Winter Equestrian Festival’s gem-laden series of Florida equestrian events is the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, presented by Tampa Tribune, which will be held on April 3, 2004, in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, starting at 7 pm.
The American Invitational, first held in Tampa in 1973, is one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the sport, and is limited to the top 30 riders who compete by invitation only. The starting order of go is always a veritable Who’s Who of show jumping. Riders invited to compete are world-class competitors including Olympians, Pan American Games medalists, Nations’ Cup Team competitors, and winners of top-rated international show jumping events.
At the top of the list of invitees, automatically invited to defend his 2003 win, is American Invitational titleholder Chris Kappler.
Invitations will also be issued to the top four riders in the American Grandprix Association Rider of the Year standings as of March 28, 2004; the top-ranked riders on that list include young hotshots of the sport – Alison Firestone, Georgina Bloomberg, McLain Ward, and Aaron Vale, as well as seasoned Olympians Anne Kursinski, Leslie Howard, Norman Dello Joio, and Ian Millar.
Three invitations will be issued to the 2003 Gold Medal Pan American United States Show Jumping Team – Beezie Madden, Lauren Hough, and Margie Engle (Chris Kappler was the fourth member). The Organizing Committee will issue two invitations at their discretion and the remaining 20 invitations will go out to riders based on money won in the WEF Challenge Cup Series of eight events plus the eight Grand Prix events held during the 2004 WEF season. The list of past performers at the American Invitational includes 2002 winner Molly Ashe, Jimmy Torano, Jeffery Welles, Olympians Nona Garson and Laura Kraut, plus the Europeans – Kevin Babington of Ireland, Markus Beerbaum and his wife Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany, Yann Candele of France, Eric Lamaze and his wife Megan Johnstone-Lamaze of Canada, and Federico Sztyrle of Argentina.
Prize money is awarded to the top 12 places, with the winner receiving $60,000. Steve Stephens will design the course.
Produced by Stadium Jumping, Inc. under the guidance of President Eugene R. Mische, the 32nd Winter Equestrian Festival is the largest and longest consecutively running equestrian sporting event in the world. The 2004 WEF commenced in Wellington, Florida, on January 28 and runs through March 21, then moves on to Tampa for two weeks at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, and then caps off with the finale event, the 32nd $200,000 American Invitational, CSI*** in the Raymond James Stadium.