SAUGERTIES, NY(August 4, 2008)-- America's most successful Grand Prix rider Margie Engle has no idea how many career wins that she has and likes it that way.
"If I started keeping track, I would stop winning them," said Engle, after she navigated the fastest double-clear round aboard Hidden Creek's Coroya Z in Sunday's $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Smith Barney at HITS Saugerties. "I am pretty sure I am over 180 wins now."
Engle and Hidden Creek's Coroya Z outlasted 27 pairs on course designer Ken Krome's 13-obstacle first- round course and seven combinations that advanced to the jump-off to grab the blue ribbon and $15,000 in prize money for Hidden Creek Farm.
It's been quite a run for Engle at HITS-on-the-Hudson this summer. She won Thursday's $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix, had three horses in the money in last Sunday's feature class and tied for first place in the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix during HITS-on-the-Hudson IV. "I have two great mares," said Engle. "They are starting to figure things out in the ring and look for the jumps."
Starting things off on Krome's jump-off route was Patty Stovel and her mount that she affectionately calls the 'turtle,' Shandor 41. Stovel and her mount were very fast and clear setting the Great American Time to Beat right off the bat at 39.703. "The girls were just flying," said Krome. "Patty came in the ring first and just laid it down. But the other girls stepped up to the challenge."
Stovel, who is the leader in the USGPL Standings with over $60,000 in Grand Prix prize money won, would eventually finish the class in fourth place for Shandor Syndicate.
Second to show were Candice King and her mount Toronto. She guided the eight-year-old to a clear round in 42.050 to finish in fifth place. "We had a lot of fast horses in the Grand Prix today," said King. "My horse is young and I knew he wasn't going to be as fast as some of the others in the class. I wanted to teach him some good lessons in the jump-off and I am very happy with our performance."
King, who was also 10th aboard Skara Glen's Davos was very happy with the course designer after the class. "I think [Krome] did a really good job," she said. "He had a mixed group in the class and built a strong, safe track. He had rails down all over the place and there was no bogey jump."
Third in the order were Callan Solem and her mount Mianta. The pair shot straight to the top of the leader board with a clear ride in 37.252 and would eventually finish in third place. Solem's lead was short-lived when Christine McCrea and her mount Promised Land shaved some valuable seconds on an inside turn in front of the clock to fence 3A, stopping the clocks with a clear round in 36.975. The combination would eventually land in second place.
Engle and Hidden Creek's Coroya Z were next and beat out McCrea's time by only 4 hundredths of a second to stop the clocks in 36.935 to win the class. "I was really fast down the first line and I think that made the difference," said Engle. "She made some sharp turns and really galloped to the red and white oxer to make up some time."
Rebecca Johanson-Hofmann and her gray mare Corona challenged Krome's route next. They had four faults to grab sixth place for Blue Hills Farm. Sitting in the envious last-to-ride spot were Santos Lamarca and his mount Fatalus Fatum. The pair didn't have the best luck in the jump-off and finished with 25 faults to land in seventh place.
"The jump-off was show jumping at its finest," said Krome.
"It was a great day to jump," added Engle. "Smith Barney had a great crowd in the VIP Pavilion and it's always nice to compete in front of an enthusiastic crowd."
Approximately 175 guests from Smith Barney packed the HITS VIP Pavilion for the featured class. They were treated to a fabulous buffet lunch, a course walk with Irish Grand Prix rider Darragh Kerins and tours of the facility that included the barn of Grand Prix rider Candice King.
HITS-on-the-Hudson also featured the second-annual Equestrian Idol competition. More than a dozen acts performed before judges Emil Spadone, Don Stewart and Susie Schoellkopf. When all the votes were tallied, the three veteran trainers crowned Jennifer White the 2008 Equestrian Idol. White, who rides in the adult jumpers with trainer Cynthia Williams of New England Farm performed, ''I Will Survive' to win the title and a $50 gift certificate to Kocher Tack.
Show jumping at HITS Saugerties continues next week with the USEF Junior Hunter National Championship for the East Coast on August 5 and 6, while the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and all-new $5,000 Pony Commotion will highlight competition on Thursday, August 7 during Week VI.
HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS produced its first horse show circuit in Gainesville, Florida in 1982. Since that time, HITS has grown into a nationwide company with world-class hunter/jumper circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit http://www.HitsShows.com
PHOTO: © 2008 Lili Weik Photography; Margie Engle and her mount Hidden Creek's Coroya Z are on course during the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Smith Barney.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/margie-engle-hits-smith-barney-08-08.html">Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Coroya Z win the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Smith Barney</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com