Aaron Vale and Artur Score Key Win in $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup
Thursday Night at Winter Equestrian Festival

Tampa, FL – March 23, 2006 –

Aaron Vale and his mount Artur outraced a jump-off field of ten on Thursday night to capture the top prize in the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center in Tampa, Florida. With the win, Vale took a giant step toward securing one of those coveted spots in the line up for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, under the lights at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, April 1st, 2006.

Aki Veikko Ylaenne of Finland is the Course Designer for the events this week in the Covered Arena. The $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup, Round Eight was scored under FEI Art. 238.2.2. Time First Jump-Off.

Thirty-five starters went to the post for the 7 p.m. main event. Of the thirty-five, eleven competitors qualified for the timed jump-off with an initial clear round. One rider was clear with a single time fault, another six riders had four faults, and eight duos had two knockdowns on the course. Nine had more than eight faults, or were eliminated.

Aaron Vale and Artur win the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series, Round Eight at Tampa.
Photo by Randi Muster.

Riders qualify for the Budweiser American Invitational based on their money won during the Winter Equestrian Festival tour. For Vale, who has spent the winter competing in Ocala on the HITS circuit, and had no money to his credit coming into tonight’s affair, a top finish was mandatory. The WEF Challenge Cup tonight was one of only three remaining qualifying events.

Vale, who rode third in the original order, lead the way back in the jump-off on Serval, the first of his two clean rides in the first round. He pulled two rails for eight faults, and slipped across the finish line in 40.32 seconds. Immediately following Vale, Kate Levy set the pace with a fault free speed ride on Vent du Nord. Levy cruised home in 42.77 seconds.

One horse later, VDL Oranta and Chris Kappler grabbed the lead away from Levy, knocking 1.28 seconds off of her time. Kappler flashed through the finish line in 41.49 seconds to move to the top of the leader board.

Three horses later, Vale returned with Artur, and sealed the deal on Round Eight of the WEF Challenge Cup Series. With incredible turns and a hasty pace, Vale clocked in clean in 39.66 seconds, 1.83 seconds faster than Kappler.

Two horses later, Canada’s Ian Miller and Promise Me challenged, but couldn’t quite catch Kappler’s time, breaking the beams in 42.33 seconds for the third place finish.

“It was kind of a tricky jump-off course and it had a couple of angles to the left that I don’t relish doing,” admitted Vale following his race to victory. “So there were a couple of places where I could have easily had a rail down in the jump-off. It wasn’t the simplest track, especially turning back to that big vertical on the flat cups at the end of the course. Those turns to the left are really Artur’s bad direction. I love those turns when they’re to the right. As many of those classes that he’s won jumping those same turns off the right, he’s lost jumping them to the left,” he revealed. “Luckily we were able to get those left turns down tonight at the verticals.”

“Both of my horses jumped really well,” Vale said. “My first horse is a bit of newer horse for me, and I made a couple of mistakes being a little too hungry in the jump-off. But then I came in with Artur, who I’ve had for over a year. We’re quite seasoned together and I had a good idea of what it would take to get a winning time, and I was able to do it quite comfortably on him.”

The first place check of $7,500 tonight might be just enough to get Vale a spot in the order of go at Raymond James Stadium, a week from Saturday. “I haven’t been in the American Invitational in three years and I really wanted to get back,” he said. “It was a short opportunity for me to qualify here in Tampa, so it’s really nice to get the win here tonight, and almost be assured of a ride next Saturday night.”

Vale has spent the winter in Central Florida and had bankrolled an incredible $140,000 in prize money won so far this season. “I’ve had a wonderful Ocala. I would have loved to come to Wellington. I was hoping to get there, but business wouldn’t allow it. I just had too many clients in Ocala to take care of, but it’s great to be in Tampa and compete with this group of riders and horses.”

For second place finisher Kappler, tonight was another step forward for his new partnership with VDL Oranta. “She’s a young horse. I haven’t decided whether I’ll take her Saturday night (at the Invitational) or not. One way or the other, the Invitational and Charlotte are both wonderful competitions, but I lack a horse to be able do both, so I have to use her sparingly and carefully. I’ll show her here on Sunday in the Grand Prix of Tampa, see how she goes in the World Cup Qualifier, and then make up my mind.”

Kappler, one of the top riders on the list for the World Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur, said that even if he does qualify for Malaysia on Saturday, it might not be time yet for that big of a competition. “She’s a really nice horse and I love riding her. I’m really excited to have her and I feel in the years to come she’ll be a really, really good horse for me,” he said. “She’s just so new. I’ve been to the championships. I know what it takes and I know what kind of partnership you need, and while I feel she’s a championship horse of the future, I really don’t feel like we’ve solidified that partnership to take on any challenge. While we were consistent in Palm Beach, I think it was proven that I’m not really ready for the biggest of classes yet.” Then he added, “She will be ready soon.”

The $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, presented by Kilkenny/ICH, CSI-W takes center stage on Sunday at WEF. The Grand Prix of Tampa is the final East Coast League World Cup qualifying class, and is one of only two remaining qualifying events for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational at Raymond James Stadium.

Week two in Tampa, the last week of the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival, is the Tournament of Champions. Next Thursday’s $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series Final, is the last chance to qualify for the Budweiser American Invitational.

The 34th Annual $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational presented by The Tampa Tribune and Kash n’ Karry, the showcase event of the Winter Equestrian Festival takes place on Saturday, April 1, 2006, at 7:00 p.m. under the lights at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. The event, the richest and most prestigious outdoor show jumping event in the United States and will feature top riders from around the world.

Results of Class 101 $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VIII CSI - Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W-FEI Art. 238.2.2 –
Covered Arena – 3/23/06
1 838 AARON VALE USA ARTUR 28 0.00 74.18 0.00 39.66 $7500,MILLSTREAM/ PETERSON/REGISTER
2 94 CHRIS KAPPLER USA VDL ORANTA 0.00 71.00 0.00 41.49 $5500, M&K ORANTALLC
3 225 IAN MILLAR CAN PROMISE ME 0.00 72.68 0.00 42.33 $3250, THE BAKER'S DOZEN
4 558 KATE LEVY USA VENT DU NORD 0.00 72.43 0.00 42.77 $2000, KATE LEVY LLC
5 614 CALLAN SOLEM USA ALLISON 0.00 73.94 0.00 46.80 $1500, QUIET WINTER FARM
6 611 SANTIAGO LAMBRE MEX CAMPINO 0.00 74.30 4.00 42.15 $1250, SANTIAGO LAMBRE
7 109 ELIZA SHUFORD USA LARENTINO 0.00 72.92 4.00 42.41 $1000, LARENTINO GROUP
8 837 AARON VALE USA SERVAL 0.00 72.39 8.00 40.32 $750, SERVAL GROUP
9 134 LAURA CHAPOT USA SAMANTHA 0.00 70.47 8.00 44.33 $750, SUNDANCE GROUP
10 506 MICHAEL MORRISSEY USA CRABAMBOLI 0.00 73.10 12.00 41.77 $500, EUGENE R. MISCHE


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