Saugerties, New York, USA – September 08, 2019 – It was a beautiful day in the heart of the Hudson Valley where international riders were welcomed into the Wilmington Trust Grand Prix Stadium for the annual $500,000 Saugerties Grand Prix CSI 5*. The Hits Championship features the richest weekend in showjumping competition with FEI CSI 5* classes drawing top riders from across the country and around the world to compete for great prize money. The show grounds were bustling under the clear blue sky as 39 of the sport’s top riders challenged the course designed by Marina Azevedo (BRA) of Campinas, Brazil.
Riders were in the hunt for the lion’s share of prize money in this unprecedented class, one of the few FEI CSI 5* events in America. It seemed like deja vu at the end of the first round with only two riders being clean, including Margie Engle (USA) who place second in the Saugerties $500,000 Grand Prix last years, as just one of two in the jump-off.
Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) would be her competition in this year’s jump-off as the two went head-to-head against the clock for the title.
Course designer Marina Azevedo built the course in both 2018 and 2019 and was please with the results. “The horses have been jumping amazing and there were about ten four-fault score in the first round today. I was expecting four or five clear round, but at the end, I think it was a nice course and I am happy with it, Azevedo said.
Derbyshire and Engle were set to return in the original posted order with Derbyshire leading the way with a double clear round aboard Cornwall BH (Con Air x Cambridge), timed in 44.50 seconds, a mark that would earn her silver honors.
“I knew I had to play it a little smart and I knew Margie would be faster than me, so I just went for a medium clear,” commented Derbyshire. “I am delighted to have jumped-off with her in the five-star competition.
It was a last minute decision for Derbyshrie to make the trip to Saugerties for the FEI CSI 5* competition, but an opportunity she couldn’t resist. “He (Cornwall BH) jumped so well last week, but I was unlucky in the Grand Prix. While he was going so well, I though I would come and give it another shot and I am grateful that I did,” Derbyshire said.
Next to return for the jump-off and taking home the victory was Engle and her long-time partner Royce (Cafe Au Lait x Grandilot). It was a sweet victory as they produced a clear performance in 39.91 seconds.
Margie Engle (USA) & Royce during the awards ceremony
“I was having flashbacks of what I did last year when I over did it and tried to go too fast,” Margie laughed. “I got very lucky in the first round when I overdid the six,” Engle continued recounting her ride to the last fence in the first round when a hard rubbed rail bounced out of the cups, landing right back and staying up. “I watched everyone have the last jump down and I over steadied. He’s (Royce) riding so nice and he came way back to me but rubbed that pretty good.”
Engle, a supporter of Hits since its inception in Gainesville, Florida, in 1982, came back from Europe this year, specifically to show in the Saugerties $500,000 Grand Prix CSI 5*.
“Tom (Struzzieri) put on one of the first big money classes in our country and I keep coming bakc each year for this show. It’s nice to have a FEI CSI 5* in our country and I thinks it’s important to support the horse shows that are in our country, especially the few FEI CSI 5* and Tom has done a great job with it,” Engle added.
Rounding out the top three was Brian Moggre (USA) and MTM Vivre Le Reve (Ustinov x Chello II) with four penalty-points in the first round. A rail at the last fence in the first round would keep Moggre from returning to the jump-off, but a fast time would secure third for the young rider. “It’s great that my horse is naturally quick and I tend to be a pretty fast rider, which can help me a times or it can hurt me. Today, it seemed to help me,” Moggre explained. “The last line was pretty difficult and I probably could have done six. I went for the five and it didn’t work out for me, but I am still over the moon with my result,” he said. “It’s really a great feeling to go in with such great company and to do so well. I am really please with him.”
Moggre has been a supporter of Hits, travelling to the different venues including Hits Ocala and Hits Chicago, and of course, Hits Saugerties here at Hits-on-the-Hudson. This is Moggre‘s first year jumping at the five-star level.
Struzzieri, President and CEO of Hits, had glowing congratulations for this year’s top finishers. “I love to see Margie win. She’s been coming to my horse shows for quite some time,” said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of Hts. “It was a good group of riders and it was nice to see some of the younger riders like Brian stepping up and being competitive as well. That shows lots of promise for our sport in the future,” he continued. “I think Marina did a great job with the course, and I am really looking forward to next year’s class.”
For full results, please click here.
Source: Press release from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography