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Engle Wins 2008 Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship

WELLINGTON, Fla., Dec. 7--The second and final leg of the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship presented by Equine Motorcoach showcased some of the country's best horses and riders. Todd Minikus won the first leg on Friday night with Pavarotti but Sunday brought a whole new challenge.

Thirty-five riders went to task in Sunday's $60,000 Holiday & Horses FEI World Cup Qualifier which included riders from six nations and featured the final USEF National Championship of 2008. Veteran rider Margie Engle put in the most consistent performance over the two rounds to end up on top. Despite placing eighth overall on Sunday - their third place from the first leg propelled them into the winner's spot. Riding Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold on Sunday (and Hidden Creek's Pamina L on Friday) she ended up on 44 points,, beating out Kirsten Coe and Starlight for the coveted Rolex watch.

"There were so many different things going on," said Engle of Wellington. "So I wasn't sure - so it was kind of a nice surprise."

Engle won the National Championship a decade ago on Hidden's Creek Glory in Gladstone, N.J., and she felt this year's course was plenty tough.

"I thought it was a good test and it was big enough and some technical parts to it," said Engle. "The rails seemed light. I saw a couple roll off easily. It was a big enough course for what we do this time of year. I didn't think their would be a ton clears when I walked it."

Engle, who celebrated her 50th birthday in 2008, rode Hidden Creek Farm's dependable campaigner, Quervo Gold to an eight-fault round but her overall placing was good enough for the championship. The 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding jumped up from third for his rider, after Minikus had four down on Pavarotti and Hillary Dobbs, who was second after the first round, had 13 faults on Marengo.

Engle, who has been a cornerstone of the US show jumping programs for decades sees this season as a rebuilding year.

"I'm trying to rebuild my string a little bit," said Engle. "I have two young horses and hopefully have one for the WEG (the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games) so this year I hope to have those young horses gain some experience here over the next few months. Going to the World Cup Final would be a bonus because I love Las Vegas."

Coe and Starlight were crowned the Reserve Champions on their score of 42 points, they too had an eight-fault performance on Sunday, and were slightly slower than Engle to slip into the runner-up spot to remain one spot behind Engle.

Twenty-eight-year-old Coe from Johnson, S.C. and Laura King's 9-year-old KWPN gelding recently represented the U.S. on the winning Nations Cup Team at the CSIO Buenos Aires in November.

Anthony D'Ambrosios's track proved difficult and only two managed clear rounds. Russia's Ljubov Kochetov jumped the first fault-free round on Aslan, as the 12th combination in the arena. Seven horses later, the 2007 National Champions, Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui, guaranteed a jump-off by putting in one of their signature impressive clear rounds. Neither rider was in the hunt for the National Championship, but when the dust settled after the jump-off, Farrington and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood prevailed with a faster clear in the jump-off and won the World Cup Qualifier.

"I had to be a little bit careful because I had to go clear," said Farrington, who followed Kochetov in the jump-off. "I had a light rub in the in and out and got away with that so then I just let him go. My horse is naturally faster, he's that type of horse so I knew I had to make one or two neat turns, going last is a huge advantage."

Farrington's goal for Up Chiqui is to pick up enough World Cup points to qualify with the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Vegas.

"He's a funny horse when he hasn't shown in a while, he felt a lot better today than he did the other night," said Farrington of the incredibly consistent Up Chiqui. "I have a lot of confidence in that horse and I always think there is a chance I can win even when I might not have a chance."

Farrington finished fifth in the National Championship standings after he finished 14th in the opening round.

"Of course I was disappointed, I knew after the other night that it was probably unrealistic," said Farrington about defending his title from 2007.

Kochetov was delighted with her horse's performance, the 8-year-old Aslan hasn't competed since the Olympic Games, so his rider had 'no complaints' with her second place finish.

PBIEC INFORMATION & TICKETS: http://www.equestriansport.com 561/793-5867 or http://www.equestriansport.com

THE FACILITY: The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival and the site of the first outdoor Nations Cup held in the United States. The competition areas include the 360' x 280' all-weather International Arena, the Bertalan DeNemethy Arena, Mogavero Ring and Grand Hunter Field in addition to several other competition rings. The competition and warm up rings have all-weather footing. Amenities include the International Club, refreshment and shopping areas.

DIRECTIONS: From the Florida Turnpike south, take Exit #93, Lake Worth Blvd., and travel west, crossing over US 441. Travel five miles to South Shore Blvd., turn right on South Shore and proceed one mile to Pierson Road, then turn left at the light. Spectator Entrance is first left, Equestrian Club Road.

From Interstate I-95, take Exit #49. Travel west on Forest Hills Blvd. 11 miles to South Shore Blvd. Turn left on South Shore and follow to Pierson Road. Turn right at the light on Pierson. Spectator Entrance is first left, Equestrian Club Road.

FOOD: A diverse menu of food and beverages is available at the vendor courtyard and at vendor areas around the International Arena, and are open during show hours.

SHOPPING: The vendor courtyard and individual booths around the International Arena offer equestrian equipment, apparel, jewelry, home furnishings and more.

CAR RENTAL: Enterprise Rent-a-Car for your car rental needs. Call 1-800-593-0505 or go online to enterprise.com and use the WEF reference number 41W0087 and the PIN; win for a discount.

HOTELS: Hampton Inn and Suites Wellington

2155 Wellington Green Drive, Wellington, FL 561-472-9696

(Closest hotel, just two miles from show grounds)

Hampton Inn Lake Worth Road

8205 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, FL 561-472-5980

(New location just five miles from Wellington)

Hampton Inn West Palm Beach

Okeechobee Blvd. at Jog Rd.

2025 Vista Parkway, West Palm Beach, FL 561-682-9990

(Just 12 miles away at Emerald Dunes)

GOLF CARS: Dever, Inc., the Official & Exclusive Supplier of Golf Cars. Orders and information at http://www.deverinc.com or telephone Dever Inc.'s PBIEC office at 859-509-7265 or the home office at 800-714-2201.

Photo: Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold on their way to winning the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship presented by Equine Motorcoach at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Sunday.

Photo Credit: 2008 Ken Braddick-HorseSport USA


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