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Molly Ashe And Lutopia Win $20,000 1.5m Classic At Winter Equestrian Festival
TAMPA, FL – March 27, 2004 – Molly Ashe, 33, of Wellington, FL, riding Lutopia for owner Jane Forbes Clark won the $20,000 1.5 Meter Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Tampa, FL, today. Ashe topped a field of 41 entries at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, host venue for the Tampa Bay Classic, the ninth week in the 10-week circuit. Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, WI, aboard Miss Independent for the Pasmore Stables placed second. Kate Levy of South Salem, NY, in the irons on her own Lydia placed third.
“This is my Olympic hopeful horse,” said Ashe of the 11-year-old Dutchbred chestnut mare by Gentleman. The pair exhibited at only one Grand Prix during the 2004 WEF and today’s class was their return to competition. “I want to jump her in the Invitational so I was letting her do her thing, which is let her go and stay out of her way. She rose to the occasion. She was right back where she should be, so that was a big sigh of relief.” Ashe is a two-time winner of the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational with Kroon Gravin. “This is the heir to the thrown,” Ashe said of Lutopia. “She’s the next generation. She was second in the million dollar grand prix in Spruce Meadows this fall and she’s a super, super horse. She’s every bit as nice.” The Budweiser American Invitational presented by Publix and The Tampa Tribune will be held on April 3 in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Ashe rode three mounts over today’s 15-effort Round One, which included a triple at No. 7 and a double at No. 9, designed by Brazil’s Guilherme Nogueira Jorge, who allotted an 84-second time allowed. Twelve horses went clean for the jump-off, including two of Ashe’s. “The first round jumped nice,” said Ashe who was the first rider on course with Naomi owned by Full Cry Farm, and notched the first clear for the Jump-Off. “It was tricky enough but fair, and the time was very fair, not generous, but fair.” Ashe noted that the triple posed the biggest challenge, and it was indeed the bogey with 16 riders unable to clear it. “It was a little bit of a push to B and then C was very short,” Ashe explained. Going again 15th in the order aboard Lutopia, Ashe logged her second clear, but as the 40th rider on course with King Louie for owner Rosewood Glen Ltd. she had a rail and wrapped his day up in 14th place.
Coming back first for the seven-effort Jump-Off with time allowed set at 47 seconds, Ashe aboard Naomi had a refusal at the first jump, had the third fence down, and added three time faults, ending up in 12th place. “I was strategically lining up my inside slice from one to three and I strategically blew right by the first jump,” Ashe admitted with a wry laugh. “That was my fault. I was cutting inside the pile of jumps before I jumped the jump itself.”
Going fifth in the order, Kate Levy and the gray mare Lydia posted the first clear trip in 39.891. Ashe was next in the ring with Lutopia and shaved more than four seconds off Levy’s time, clocking in clean at 35.722, which held up through the efforts of the remaining six riders, including three more clear rounds. Callan Solem aboard Mianta for Quiet Winter Farm broke the beam fault-free at 39.979 for fourth place. Kraut riding Miss Independent clocked in clear at 36.014 for second. Danielle Torano came in clean on Cavalieri for owners Christy and Elizabeth Russo at 40.502 for fifth.
Ashe said she was faster everywhere in the tiebreaker. “That mare is incredibly fast. Just her natural tempo is very, very fast,” said Ashe of Lutipia. “She slices and cuts with you.”
Ashe is on the US team headed for the World Cup Finals in Milan, Italy, at the end of April, but she will take Resolute owned by Rosewood Glen Ltd. and Naomi, saving Lutopia for the Olympic Selection Trials. Jane Clark bought Lutopia for Ashe to ride three years ago and the pair has been competing in the Grand Prix for a year. The class today was part of Ashe’s revised path to the Olympics. “It’s a good comeback because we’re running out of time,” she said, and credited owner Clark for her support through the weeks off. “You can make your plan and something always can come up, but Jane has weathered many storms. She’s been in the sport for a long, long time. I feel lucky to have somebody who understands and is willing to take the step back and alter the plan and make all the best efforts to turn it back around.”
Erica Garcia And Solo Win Children’s Jumper
In earlier competition today, Erica Garcia riding Solo for owner Alex Jayne won the $500 Children’s Jumper 13 & Under, topping a class of 36 horses. Eleven horses went clean over the 13-effort Round One course and qualified for the seven-effort Jump-Off. Going second in the tiebreaker, Garcia set the pace with the first clear round, clocking in at 28.181, well under the 43-second Time Allowed, which held up through the next nine riders, including four more clear trips. Finishing just splits behind the winner were Margaret Lenfest aboard Spendid for owner Stephanie McCarron, who broke the beam at 28.434 for second place; and Nicole Lakin in the irons on Kick The Clouds for Rolling Acres Farm and Mary Lisa Leffler, who also rode fault-free, clocking in at 28.960 for third.
Studio 54 Claims AA Working Hunter 18-35 Championship
In the hunter ring, Studio 54 with Kara Flynn up claimed the Adult Amateur Working Hunter 18-35 Championship after two days of competition over fences and on the flat. Damascus ridden by Lynley Reilly was the Reserve.