Tampa, FL - There were no rabbits this Easter at the Tampa Equestrian Festival during the $50,000 Grand Prix of Tampa CSI 2*-W. When four riders were unable to complete today's jump-off round without bringing down a rail Margie Engle and Indigo were determined to have a steady, clear ride. The pair left all the jumps standing, and despite accruing two time faults, Engle and Indigo claimed today's top prize.
Today, riders competed over courses designed by Michel Vaillancourt in the Covered Arena at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The first round featured an early triple combination to a liverpool fence, followed by a triple bar. As the course came to a close, riders had to show over a large oxer line, followed by a tight double combination, before finishing over a tall, single vertical. Many riders had a difficult time at the oxer line, the double combination, and the final vertical.
Six riders were able to complete the first round without fault and advance to the jump-off. The course began with a bending line, and then riders could take a difficult inside turn to a vertical, before making another inside turn to the second half of the triple combination. Finally, riders made their way to the triple bar before galloping to the tall vertical and finishing over the final oxer.
Canadian Hugh Graham was the first to attempt the shortened course with Executive Privilege 3E, owned by King Ridge Stables. The pair had a difficult time making the inside turn to the double combination and pulled a rail off of the second fence. They also picked up faults at the tall vertical and the final oxer for a 12-fault total in 46.76 seconds. Their effort would earn them the fifth place honors.
Next on course was Pablo Barrios with G&C Quick Star, owned by G & C Farm and Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal. They also had a difficult time coming to the double combination, earning a fault at the B portion, and then also pulling the top fail off of the tall vertical. Their eight fault score in 43.30 seconds would take home today's fourth place award.
Leslie Howard tackled the jump-off course next with Lennox Lewis II, which was her first of two mounts that she qualified. After a sharp inside turn following the second fence, Lennox Lewis II stopped at the third fence. The pair quickly gathered their momentum again and made their way through the rest of the course, but with four jumping faults and eight time faults they would wind up in the sixth place position.
Richard Spooner was aboard S&B LLC's Ace when he made his way into the Covered Arena for the short course. They also took the sharp turn to the double combination and with an extra kick Ace was able to make it through without fault. The duo was not as lucky at tall vertical though, and took home the third place finish with a four fault score in a time of 44.15 seconds.
When Margie Engle entered the ring with her newest mount, Gladewinds Farm Inc's Indigo, she knew that all she had to do was complete a clear round to go to the top of the leader board. The pair opted not to make the more difficult turns and found each fence easily. They crossed the finish line with all the jumps intact, but with a time allowed of 50 seconds they earned two time faults when they stopped the clock at 51.71 seconds.
Leslie Howard and Raimond W were the last pair to compete over the jump-off course. Howard described her mount as, "a herd of turtles" and when they also chose to make the easier turns the duo was not able to catch Engle. They crossed the finish line in 52.27 seconds, earning three faults. Howard and Raimond W garnered the second place award, while Engle and Indigo won the day's blue ribbon.
Engle worked hard not to push the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood today. She has only had the horse for six weeks, after purchasing him from a couple in Australia. "I was just so thrilled he went clean the first round that I didn't want to be tempted to go fast with him," she explained. "He just started and he already wants to be a little quick. This was his first World Cup class; I've only been showing him for about four weeks."
"When I landed off the vertical I looked up at the clock and I hadn't realized I was that slow," continued Engle. "It's hard to make myself not go fast. Even when I try to think about time allowed if I go too fast with him he's ready to go too much, so I wanted go just medium."
Indigo had a difficult journey coming to America, but Engle has high hopes for the young gelding. "I was thinking about doing the Trials with him but I didn't get him soon enough," she noted. "Getting him here was a big project. He went from Melbourne to Perth, then Perth to LA, and then to Tennessee because he got stuck in the bad weather. When he got here though and he was fresh, bright eyed, and hadn't lost any weight. He doesn't get tired!"
Howard knew that Raimond W might be slower than Indigo, but she landed off the second fence with confidence. "I got down to the second fence and it should have been a steady six, but I got there and the six ended up flying," she explained. "That set me for what I thought was a pretty fast ground stride. My clock was running, but I just didn't realize how quickly her horse moves in relation to how slow my horse moves."
Howard laughed, saying, "I watched Margie go out of the corner of my eye, but I should have taken into account that her horse is a very naturally fast horse, and my horse is naturally slow as molasses."
Today's class was the final qualifier for the World Cup Finals in Geneva, Switzerland. Engle is currently on the list of riders that are eligible to compete, but she admitted that she has not made a final decision. " I really only have one horse [Hidden Creek's Campella] right now that is capable of doing that, and the owner has to decide if he wants to do the American Invitational or the World Cup Finals," she said.
The American Invitational is a personal favorite for Engle, who grew up in South Florida. "I would do anything to go watch when I was younger, I didn't care if I had to groom for free, I would hitch a ride to go watch it," she smiled. "I just think it's a really special class, I love watching it in the stadium. It has a lot of tradition." Howard is currently planning to show Lennox Lewis II during the special event, but Engle has not decided on a mount.
The 2010 $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm will be held on Saturday, April 10. This is the highlight event culminating the two weeks of the Tampa Equestrian Festival. The top horses and riders from around the world are invited to compete during this special event under the stunning lights of Raymond James Stadium.
For more information about the Tampa Equestrian Festival please visit www.stadiumjumping.com.
Class 101, $50,000 FEI WORLD CUP QUALIFIER CSI 2*-W
Order - Entry # - Horse Name - Rider Name - Owner - JF1 - TF1 - AF1 - Time 1 - JF2 - TF2 - AF2 - Time 2
1 - 103 - INDIGO - MARGIE ENGLE - GLADEWINDS FARM INC - 0 - 0 - 0 - 6.000 - 0 - 1 - 1 - 51.710
2 - 60 - RAIMOND W - LESLIE HOWARD - LESLIE & PETER HOWARD - 0 - 0 - 0 - 5.000 - 0 - 1 - 1 - 52.750
3 - 303 - ACE - RICHARD SPOONER - S & B LLC - 0 - 0 - 0 - 4.000 - 4 - 0 - 4 - 44.150
4 - 5 - G & C QUICK STAR 11 - PABLO BARRIOS - G & C FARM/GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL - 0 - 0 - 0 - 2.000 - 8 - 0 - 8 - 43.300
5 - 223 - EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE 3E - HUGH GRAHAM - KING RIDGE STABLES - 0 - 0 - 0 - 1.000 - 12 - 0 - 12 - 46.760
6 - 62 - LENNOX LEWIS 2 - LESLIE HOWARD - LESLIE & PETER HOWARD - 0 - 0 - 0 - 3.000 - 4 - 9 - 13 - 84.000
7 - 107 - JUST AN ILLUSION - TAYLOR MCMURTRY - TAYLOR MCMURTRY - 4 - 0 - 4 - 74.370
8 - 1 - G & C LAGRAN - PABLO BARRIOS - PABLO BARRIOS/GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL - 4 - 0 - 4 - 74.810
9 - 304 - CRISTALLO - RICHARD SPOONER - SHOW JUMPING SYNDICATIONS INTL - 4 - 0 - 4 - 75.840
10 - 301 - ALASKA - TODD MINIKUS - CALLIE SEAMAN - 4 - 0 - 4 - 76.220
11 - 292 - THOMAS EDISON - CHARLIE JAYNE - ALEX/IRA JAYNE/SCHULMAN - 8 - 0 - 8 - 72.660
12 - 12 - HIDDEN CREEK'S PAMINA L - MARGIE ENGLE - HIDDEN CREEK FARM - 8 - 0 - 8 - 74.020
Photo Credit: Margie Engle and Indigo were the winners of the $50,000 Grand Prix of Tampa CSI 2*-W after completing a clear round over the fences, but crossing the finish line with two time faults. Photo By: Anne Gittins.