Wellington, FL - December 3, 2011 - The $50,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix was the highlight class of the week at the Holiday and Horses Show, hosted by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, and Indigo were able to secure the victory in the FEI World Cup qualifier, and Engle also finished second with Lord Spezi. The show concludes on Sunday, December 4.
Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY, set the course for 42 entries and six were able to find the path to a clear round. "I thought it was a good course," Engle said. "The oxer to oxer one stride you don't see very often. You need to have that for World Cup courses. It's a real scope test and you need a legitimate horse to do it. There were a lot of rails in different places. If you're going to do World Cup Finals, you need that. He tested everything; he tested carefulness, he tested scope, the verticals were quite tall. I thought he did a great job."
First up in the jump-off was Pablo Barrios (VEN) on G&C Flash, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Forrester x Grannus owned by G&C Farm. They had a block off the wall, the second to last jump, and added a time fault for five faults in 45.50 seconds. They finished in fourth place.
Margie Engle (USA) and Indigo followed in the jump-off and were able to take the lead with the only clear round of the jump-off in 43.42 seconds. Indigo, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Indoctro, is owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek, and Gladewinds.
"I was trying to go neat and I knew I had some fast ones behind me," Engle recalled. "I wanted to be neat but not risk too much. I figured I could take a little shot at the last oxer. I didn't mean to take as much of a shot to the double. I knew the in and out was tight and he backed up beautifully on his own."
Next in was Mark Leone (USA) on Ri-Arm Farm's Great American, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Acord II x Ricardo. They also had a block off the wall but finished with a faster time of 43.57 seconds that would slot into third place.
Leone commented, "I was happy with my effort, the horse's effort, the speed. To be right behind Margie is great. What a nice night. I loved it, I was feeling it! This jump-off suited me."
Ljubov Kochetova (RUS) and her horse Royce, a seven-year-old Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot, had a rail at a tall vertical and added two more time faults to finish with six faults in 46.74 seconds for fifth place. Leslie Howard (USA) and The Utah Group's Utah, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Andiamo x Jus De Pomme, had 16 faults in 40.94 seconds for sixth place.
Engle returned last in the jump-off on her second mount, Lord Spezi, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Lord Pezi x Grandeur owned by Ashland Farms. Although they had a rail for four faults, they had the fastest time of the night in 43.26 seconds, which left them in second place.
Engle noted, "I was really pleased with Spezi. He did the World Cup at Toronto. He was really good there and got a ribbon. We were debating whether to go or not. He jumped really well and had a light rub. I turned back a little short and ran out of room. He caught Indigo's time though."
Tonight was a great return for Great American, who was off for 20 months with a soft tissue injury. "It was a pretty severe injury," Leone acknowledged. "It was one of those things where you ask, 'Is he going to get back?' He's a little bit of an older horse now. We put the time in. He started jumping in July and did normal national Grand Prix in August. What a blast to get back and show at World Cup level, to be in a jump-off with Margie. The adrenaline gets flowing. I was myself getting back into the groove of it."
Leone was clear in Thursday's grand prix, but had eight faults in the jump-off. "I was out of the money, which was irritating," he joked. But the experience made him more "focused on the speed aspect" for tonight. "It was a great night," he said.
Engle and Indigo have become a solid combination for the United States show jumping team, having put in clear performances in Nations Cups in La Baule and Rome and a solid showing in Aachen. Engle has ridden him for a year and a half and is still learning what works best with the talented grey.
"He's been fantastic. Everything I've asked of him, he's been really good. I'm learning more about him all the time," she admitted. "At Harrisburg, I put him in a little class early in the week and went slow. I think it's good for him to do a little class and take a breath. He reminds me a little of Saluut, I used to do that with him. When they try that hard all the time, it's good to go in and let them feel like King Kong, like everything's really easy. He tends to get keyed up. He's very energetic and always thinking ahead."
She added, "Tonight in the first round he went as good as he's ever ridden. He was relaxed and quiet and felt great. Then I felt like I could take more of a shot in the jump-off."
Engle said that the 2012 FEI World Cup Finals may be in the cards for Indigo, depending on his show schedule and performance in the Olympic Trials, which will be held at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival during week 11.
The 2011 Equestrian Sport Production's Holiday and Horses competition will conclude tomorrow evening with the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.
Final Results: $50,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix
1.INDIGO: 2000 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Indoctro x Unknown MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek & Gladewinds: 0/43.42
2. LORD SPEZI: 1998 Oldenburg gelding by Lord Pezi x Grandeur MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Ashland Farms: 4/43.26
3. GREAT AMERICAN: 1997 Hanoverian gelding by Acord II x Ricardo MARK LEONE (USA), Ri-Arm Farm: 4/43.57
4. G&C FLASH: 2002 Hanoverian gelding by Forrester x Grannus PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), Pablo Barrios and Gustavo Mirabal: 5/45.50
5. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot LJUBOV KOCHETOVA (RUS), Ljubov Kochetova: 6/46.74
6. UTAH: 2001 KWPN gelding by Andiamo x Jus De Pomme LESLIE HOWARD (USA), The Utah Group: 16/40.94
7. SLEIVEANORRA: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Voltaire x Flagmount Diamond RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equanimity LLC: 4/71.50
8. PJOTTER VAN DE ZONNEHOEVE: 2001 Dutch Warmblood Gelding by Plato x Emilion MCLAIN WARD (USA), Louisburg Farm: 4/72.43
9. INTERTOY Z: 1999 Zangersheide gelding by Interadel x Centauer SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Stan Brash: 4/73.03
10. URAYA: 2001 KWPN mare by Farmer x Zeno CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 4/73.41
11. CARLO 273: 2001 Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 4/75.35
12. BON AMI: 2001 BWP gelding by Pavarotti VD Helle x Unknown SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Liz McTaggart: 4/76.33
Photo Credit: Margie Engle won the $50,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix with Indigo and was second on Lord Spezi. Photos © ManciniPhotos, www.manciniphotos.com.