Ward Edges Out Engle To Win $25,000 USET Festival Of Champions Grand Prix

Looks Can be Decieving

Six riders had made it to the jump-off round and each progressive rider not only went clean but also outrode the previous rider. Perin went just before Rio and by the looks of it you would have thought Perin had the faster round, but the clock told another story. 

"His horse is naturally faster. My horse spends more time in the air," added Engle. Earlier in the jump-off Ward had ridden another of his mounts, Victor, who he feels is a faster horse. "Victor is the fastest horse I've ever ridden," he remarked. If he's faster then why didn't he win, was the question that Ward answered by explaining that for some reason the red and white flags they generally put in front of a jump when it is not in the jump-off were on the ground in front of one of the jumps they were jumping and for a split second, "it got me confused." Seeing the flags, Ward hesitated thinking that perhaps he was making a mistake and going to the wrong jump. A quick look around and he realized he was correct, but that hesitation added time to their final tally.

Engle could have had another shot at winning the class because she had one more horse to ride after Rio. However, she opted not to go with Hidden Creeks Laurel explaining that the mare tends to be very sensitive and doesn't understand the speed of a jump-off. "Laurel is not one I like to run a lot. She is more fragile mentally than the others. Since all the other riders were fast and clean, I would have had to go fast. When I go fast on her she seems to be asking, 'what did I do wrong.' So, I decided to save her for Sunday since she did so well in the first round."