Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Events

Springsteen's daughter at Tampa horse competition

Top Olympic hopefuls, including Bruce Springsteen's daughter, Jessica, will compete in the "Super Bowl" of horse jumping competitions today at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Gene Mische American Invitational is the only equestrian event held in an NFL football stadium and considered one of the most difficult, with a course designed by Steve Stephens, whose work put horses to the test in the Beijing Olympics.

Will the Boss be here, too? Maybe, but you might not know it in the crowd of 15,000.

"Personally I think it's the coolest thing in the world when Bruce Springsteen is there to cheer on his daughter," said Ken Kraus, spokesman for the invitational, "but I'd be surprised if anyone will be able to pick him out in the crowd if he's there."

Jessica is the second child and only daughter of Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.

Children of celebrities, large corporation heirs and royalty are commonplace in this sport, which can easily cost millions for horses, training, travel and competitions.

Broadcaster Lou Dobbs' daughter Hillary is an international show jumping champion and Bill Gates' daughter Jennifer is just getting started as a teen in the sport. Glenn Close, John Cleese and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have been photographed ringside when their kids compete.

This annual invitation in Tampa has drawn top Olympians, and Jessica Springsteen intends to be one them, Kraus said.

"Jessica Springsteen is a great rider, and she's got a great horse for this," Kraus said.

Last September, Springsteen, 21, acquired Vindicat W, the gold medal-winning horse from the London Olympics who allowed Peter Charles to clinch the Olympic team title for Britain.

Other riders of note at today's invitational are Reed Kessler, the daughter of Lorillard tobacco company CEO Murray Kessler, who made history as the USA's youngest-ever Olympic show jumper in London at age 17.

The show is 7 p.m., though the "Mane Event Party" in the parking lot begins at 4 p.m. with the horseless horse show, petting zoo and pony rides. Tickets are $20-$40. (813) 350-6500.

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