ELLENVILLE, NY (August 5, 2001)-U.S. Sydney Olympic Team Member Margie Engle and her Olympic mount Hidden Creek's Perin won the $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix at HITS Catskills V in Ellenville, New York, today, besting a field of 36 that included three of her team mates and their Olympic mounts-Nona Garson and Rhythmical, Lauren Hough and Clasiko, and team alternate Todd Minikus and Oh Star. Engle, 43, of Wellington, Florida, and Hidden Creek's Perin also went up against another Olympic pair in the four-horse Jump-Off, U.S. Atlanta Team Silver Medallist Anne Kursinski and her Olympic mount Eros. Engle posted the only double-clear of the class. "Perin has so much scope and a really big heart," said Engle. "A lot of horses got backed off at the Olympics, but he got better and better. Like today-I could tell the heat was getting to him but he just digs down. He was really running and trying really hard. I can't say enough good things about him. He does it easily and he's a sweet, sweet horse around the barn and everywhere else. He's just fantastic." Hidden Creek's Perin is a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Hidden Creek Farm.
Steve Brygidyr, Vice President of Sales at the Nevele Grande Resort and Country Club, represented today's Grand Prix sponsor and participated in the awards presentations. Brygidyr awarded Engle an engraved silver tray, an embroidered Cosequin® U.S. Grand Prix League cooler, certificates for 650 pounds of Agway horse feed, and a check for $30,000 in prize money. "The Nevele wants to thank the HITS program for their participation for the last three weeks they were here," said Brygidyr. "We're looking forward to seeing everyone Labor Day Week when they're back in Ellenville. Next year we hope to see everyone come out in full force again. We appreciate everyone's time and effort in coming to the hotel and we hope to entertain everyone again soon."
Danny Foster of Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, designed the course. Foster is chairman of the Canadian Show Jumping Team and is on the board of the Canadian Equestrian Federation's Jump Canada where he serves on the Technical Committee. For Round One, Foster built a 14-jump course that included a vertical-oxer double at Fence No. 5, a triple-bar over water at No. 7, an oxer-vertical-oxer triple at No. 10, and finished with an oxer over a liverpool at No. 14. Time Allowed was set at 93 seconds. Five riders retired on course. Four horses went clean and qualified for the Jump-Off round.
For the Jump-Off, Foster required the horses to start again with the blue-and-white Antarès vertical at Fence No. 1, continue on to the blue-and-white Agway oxer at No. 2, turn right to a new fence, No. 15, which was the No. 12 vertical in Round One going the reverse direction, turn left to the yellow-and-white vertical at No. 8, then right again to the blue-and-white Cosequin® vertical at No. 4, turn left to the double at No. 5, rollback to the vertical at No. 6, and finish with the red-and-white oxer over the liverpool at No. 11. Time Allowed was set at 60 seconds.
Four-time U.S. Olympic Team Member and two-time Silver Medallist Anne Kursinski, 42, of Frenchtown, New Jersey, was first to go in the Jump-Off on Eros, who lowered one fence for four faults in 52.738. Kursinski placed third and earned $12,000 for Eros's owners, The Eros Group. McLain Ward, 26, of Brewster, New York, on Fior was second in the order, and also had a rail for four faults, but his faster time of 50.240 placed him second. As owner/rider, Ward took home $20,000. Engle on Hidden Creek's Perin went next and posted a clear round in 49.785, taking the lead and the win. Molly Ashe, 21, of Wellington, Florida, on Concerto owned by Jane F. Clark was the final rider on course but took an unexpected early dismount after the second fence and was eliminated. Ashe earned fourth place and $8,000.
"It was a very good course," commented Engle. "The first round had a lot of different tricky places. It was very much a rider's course. You really had to think in a couple of places and you really had to get your horse back, especially after the water-that three-line to the plank got very tight. The triple got most of them-it was very difficult. You had a vertical in the middle that was taller than both the in and the out of the combination. A lot of horses looked through it and had the middle vertical down. And the last jump was difficult too with the liverpool underneath it. It was very square, and it's a hot day and they're getting a little tired by then. There actually were a lot of rails everywhere today."
Engle pointed out that Perin had only been doing Grand Prix classes for about a year before going to the Olympics and has had little Jump-Off experience until this year. Recently, Engle and Perin placed second in scenarios similar to today's Jump-Off, where riders ahead of her had rails and she chose to go medium and clean, but then the last rider on course went clean and faster to beat her. Today, she chose a different strategy. "He's just learning to go in the Jump-Off now," said Engle. "I've been trying to get him to go a little faster each time. In the past four or five Grand Prix he's been leading until the last horse. Today, I figured I might as well take a shot at it because last week I was leading until the last horse. It's happened so many times that I figured I might as well give it a shot and go fast. Even if I have one down at least I'll be ahead of the four-faulters if I'm faster than they are, and if not it gives the last one a little bit more to go after. So I did try and go a little faster than I normally would in that position." Perin will now take a month off before going to compete at Spruce Meadows where he and Engle are on the U.S. team.
"It is the final week of three back-to-back shows, there's a lot of money and great talent here, so I planned the whole week to make a major championship out of it," said Course Designer Foster. "I gave them a little bit of a wake up in the Friday Mini Prix, so they were prepared. Everybody knew the kind of week we were going to have. The great athletes here at this show rally up and just ride great. The course was hard from start to finish. Right from the absolute very first jump there wasn't a 'gimme' to it. There wasn't a place where you could take a breath. It was a very, very hard test. The riders handled it fantastic as a whole."
Foster noted that there were some particular challenges, but that the rails down were spread out around the course. "There were some key lines designed for the drama and for the entertainment aspect of the crowd, so that spectators could key in to those areas. I think you have to do that kind of thing not so much to have a bogey jump to get riders and horses out, but to create exciting moments within the time span of a course for the entertainment of the spectators."
The last jump was the same in Round One and the Jump-Off-the red-and-white oxer over the liverpool, which came down for 12 riders in the first round, including two crowd favorites who were clear to the end-last Sunday's winner, Todd Minikus on What Nu, and seven-time Canadian Olympic Team Member Ian Millar on Ivar. "I like making the last jump an issue," said Foster. "That was first of all, a very, very large fence. It was 4'11" high and 5-½' wide. It's a little bit airy and it's got the liverpool with water in it. It's a long approach on a tired horse at that point and it takes a lot of courage and a lot of accuracy from the horse and rider to make a wonderful effort at that point of the course. These horses have enough fight, enough guts, and enough quality in them at the very end. You come at them early and find out who's ready as soon as they come in the ring and it's a fair test in the end to see what horses still have the stamina, the interest level, and the carefulness to handle something difficult when they could be a little bit tired and a little bit on their way out."
When the Jump-Off included two Olympians and two riders with international experience, Foster was pleased with that kind of conclusion. "To me that's everything, when the cream rises to the top," he said. "When it's super tough you can count on the quality of the athletes. At this level, with these great people, you could build anything and a certain number are going to jump it just because they're so good at it. I think you fail them when you don't give them a chance to show their excellence from the norm, and the norm here is extremely good. I hope to give those real key players the chance that they require to show that they are the best and why they are the best."
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$100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix, August 5, 2001 HITS Catskills V, Ellenville, New York
Course Designer: Danny Foster
Pl#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults & Time
1/Hidden Creek's Perin/Margie Engle/Hidden Creek Farm/$30,000/0/0-49.785
2/Fior/McLain Ward/McLain Ward/$20,000/0/4-50.240
3/Eros/Anne Kursinski/The Eros Group/0/4-52.738
4/Concerto/Molly Ashe/Jane F. Clark/$8,000/0/E
5/Windy City/Lauren Hough/Peppercorn Ltd/$6,000/4/NA
6/What Nu/Todd Minikus/Amy Lefferdink/$5,000/4/NA
7/Pico de Gallo/Marilyn Little/Raylyn Farm & Marilyn Little/$4,000/4/NA
8/Oh Star/Todd Minikus/Todd Minikus Ltd/$$3,000/4/NA
9/Ivar/Ian Millar/Millar Brooke Ltd/$3,000/4/NA
10/Hidden Creek's Jones/Margie Engle/Hidden Creek Farm/$2,000/4/NA
11/Rio/McLain Ward/McLain Ward/$2000/4/NA
12/Nicos/Ian Millar/Todd Snell/$2,000/4/NA
13/Quidam M/Peter Leone/BCQ Enterprises/$1,500/8/NA
14/Bergerac/Kimberly Frey/Katharine Miracle & Overlook Farm/$1,500/8/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 36
Class Prize Money: $100,000