$200,000 Budweiser American Invitational Plus Final Budweiser World Cup Qualifying Events Highlight Winter Equestrian Festival’s Returns to Tampa

Wellington, FL – January 7 –

The city of Tampa, Florida will once again play host to the final weeks of the Winter Equestrian Festival, beginning March 23, 2005 at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds, I. 4 and Orient Road in Tampa. The festival, the nation’s oldest and largest equestrian extravaganza, is celebrating its 33rd season of equestrian excellence.

The 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival kicks off in Wellington, Florida on January 26, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club and will conclude with two weeks of exciting action at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center and the grand finale, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, under the lights at Raymond James Stadium, on Saturday night, April 2, 2005.

With so much at stake, this year’s Tampa portion of the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival is going to be one of the most competitive ever held.

In addition to the competition for the thirty available spots at the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, riders will also be fighting for one of only seven precious openings for The Budweiser World Cup Finals, to be held in the United States in Las Vegas, beginning on April 20, 2005. The last two events offering valuable World Cup qualifying points will be held at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Tampa at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center.

The $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, CSI-W, presented by Kilkenny/ICH on Sunday, March 27, 2005 and the $30,000 Ariat WEF Challenge Cup Series Final, CSI-W, on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 will be the final two events that determine which riders will represent the United States at The Budweiser World Cup in Las Vegas.

2004 Budweiser American Invitational winner, Norman Dello Joio aboard "Glasgow".
Photo: Randi Muster.

The $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, at Raymond James Stadium, brings together a star studded international group of equestrians to compete for one of the richest purses in all of show jumping. The unique invitation only format assures the best possible starting field. In addition to the defending Invitational champion, invitations are issued to the current top four American Grand Prix Association riders, the team silver medallists from the Athens Olympic Games, plus the top riders based on prize money won from the nine week long Winter Equestrian Festival tour.

Many Olympic medallists are among the world’s greatest show jumping stars expected to compete at this year at the 2005 Budweiser American Invitational. They include the defending champion and Olympic Bronze Medallist, Norman Dello Joio, plus McLain Ward, Chris Kappler and Beezie Madden, three members of the United States Silver Medal winning team from the Olympic Games at Athens, Greece.

The Tampa Bay Classic, a member event of the World Champion Hunter Rider Award program, begins the Tampa run on Wednesday, March 23rd and continues through Sunday, March 27, 2005 at Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

The second week at Bob Thomas, The Tournament of Champions, is the final week of the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival. It begins on Tuesday, March 29th and concludes on Saturday, April 2nd.

Four rings of equestrian competition are offered during each of the two weeks, beginning daily at 8:00am.

Show Jumping Hall of Fame Series events for Amateur Owner and Junior Jumper riders are featured each weekend. In addition, North American League events for Adult and Children Jumpers are on the schedule each week.

Also included among the featured events are full divisions for hunters and equitation, including ponies and short stirrup.

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