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Kelly Champion Wins NAL Adult Hunter Finals

Kelly Champion and All In Win $10,000 NAL Adult Hunter Finals (c) Al Cook Photo

Kelly Champion and All In Win $10,000 North American League Adult Hunter Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show

Harrisburg, PA. - October 21, 2011 - Kelly Champion of Washington, NJ rode her horse All In to victory in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Adult Hunter Finals at the 66th annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Friday.

The win was bittersweet for Champion, who was on tap to show at the Capital Challenge two weeks ago, but was unable to compete because her husband, Tony, suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He is recuperating nicely so he urged Champion to show at Harrisburg despite her protests.

"When I was at the Capital Challenge Horse Show my husband told me to go back and show and I said, 'No way!' He made me come here because I wasn't going to show," said Champion. "This is definitely a special win. I can't wait to tell my husband. He is going to be so excited. He is going to be so happy."

Champion scored the highest of the 29 qualifiers in the first round with 88.00 points. The top 12 returned to try their hand at the Blake Alder designed course, which Champions' trainer of 25 years, Robert Beck, declared as a classic hunter course.

"It was a challenging course that separated the riders in the final round," said Beck "You needed a little bit of handier horse, but it was a true classic hunter course."

Champion earned an 85.00 in the second round giving her the winning score of 173.00.

Kelly purchased "Hank" as she affectionately calls him in September of 2010. The eight-year-old gelding is the first horse she has owned in a long time and she could not be more pleased with his performance today. Champion won the NAL Adult Hunter Finals in 2000 on her mount Copperfield.

The NAL offers a year-long series in six divisions - Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter presented by Practical Horseman, Children's Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The series includes classes held at hundreds of horse show across the United States and Canada.

Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, most riders join in hopes of earning a trip to Harrisburg for the East Coast riders and in Las Vegas for the West Coast competitors. The 2011-2012 NAL qualifying period began on September 1, 2011 and runs through August 31, 2012.

For more information regarding the NAL series, including series specifications, current standings and a list of upcoming events, please call (717) 867-5643, email to NAL@Ryegate.com or visit www.ryegate.com.

Competition at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg continues through October 22 with Saturday's featured event, the $75,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix de Penn National

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