Traverse City, Michigan, USA – August 30, 2020 – Show jumping action reached its pinnacle Sunday during the Traverse City Fall Horse Show CSI 3*, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, with 45 international contenders competing head-to-head in the $137,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City CSI 3* for the lead spot in the victory gallop.
Emerging victorious ahead of the field thanks to precise riding and lightning footspeed, Margie Engle (USA) and Gladewinds Partners LLC’s Royce (Cafe Au Lait x Grandilot) came out on top as the day’s big winner. Sunday’s victory is the second 2020 grand prix triumph for Engle in Traverse City, having topped the $137,000 Four G Surfaces Grand Prix CSI 3* aboard Dicas during Week Five of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.
The first round of competition saw Beat Mändli (SUI) and Galan S serve as the trailblazers, turning in the first clear trip of the class as the second entry to jump course designer Ivan Tagle’s (ARG) 15-effort pattern. Engle and Royce soon added their names to the list of fault-free contenders to force a jump-off, followed by four more American contingents before the midway break in the form of Lucy Deslauriers (USA) on Enanda, Lillie Keenan (USA) riding Agana Van Het Gerendal Z and Spencer Smith (USA) with Ayade Hero Z and Alison Robitaille (USA) aboard Ginger Pop.
Following the halfway point, there was a drought of clear rounds from the first ten duos, but that trend soon changed as eight more penalty-free trips came from Brian Moggre (USA), Bliss Heers (USA), Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Beezie Madden (USA), McLain Ward (USA), Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA), Freddie Vazquez (PUR) and Adam Prudent (USA) on their respective mounts. The time-allowed was a factor for two riders, as Mario Deslauriers (CAN) and Kristen Berian (USA) each falling victim to a single time fault after keeping all the rails in their cups.
Fourteen qualified contenders from five nations returned to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for the tie-breaker round, and seven partnerships managed to leave all the fences intact for a second time to finish the afternoon double-clear. The first to return, Beat Mändli set the initial pace in the irons aboard Galan S in 39.840 seconds, laying the gauntlet down with a clear trip to start the second phase with momentum. The leaders’ status did not hold for even one trip, though, as Engle and Royce proved why they are consistently one of the quickest in the game with a blazing performance in a fault-free 37.410 seconds, slicing nearly two-and-a-half seconds off the frontrunners’ time to capture the lead. Twelve subsequent teams chased down Engle and Royce’s time, but ultimately none could manage it, solidifying the American partnership as the victors in the $137,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City CSI 3*.
Only milliseconds off the pace as one of the final pairs to go, Beezie Madden (USA) and Chic Hin D Hyrencourt, owned by Abigail Wexner, galloped to the reserve honors in a time of 37.460 seconds.
Shane Sweetnam (IRL) piloted Alejandro, co-owned by Seabrook LLC, Spy Coast Farm and Sweetnam, to third place overall in 37.550 seconds, the third and final duo to beat the 39-second mark. The top three finishers distinguished themselves from the pack, as the next-best finisher concluded the jump-off more than one-and-a-half seconds slower.
Up by six points when the day commenced in the CaptiveOne Advisors $30,000 Leading Jumper Rider Bonus leaderboard, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) had a small buffer over the rest of the pack in the standings towards the season-ending prize. Though Sweetnam, who had been sitting in third place and moved up to second, earned a few points thanks to his Sunday results, Vanderveen managed to stay on top to close the week. The coveted bonus will be awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points in competitions worth $25,000 or more in prize money over the course of 11 weeks of riding in Traverse City, concluding with the $213,300 CaptiveOne American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI 4* on September 13. Exhibitors have two more weeks of competition ahead of them.
Winner’s Circle – Margie Engle (USA)
On her win:
“It was quite a good group this week. I was really excited with Royce and he’s jumping fantastic. He’s had a long break. I showed him a couple of weeks ago and his fitness schedule seems like it’s right on queue. He’s normally not the quickest but he was really on today.”
On Royce’s speed:
“I took a shot at the beginning. I tried to be as quick as I could and I knew I could gallop. [Royce] is really good at backing up once I get there, so I galloped across the middle and went as fast as I could across there and back to the double combination. He was fantastic inside because I landed and I was on top of jump B and he backed up really well with the turn, then he ran down to the oxer. I actually thought I left the door a little bit open to the last line because when I turned back he gave me a great rollback to the last line, and I know some of them did six strides. I tried to keep kicking to it but he jumped so high over the oxer I thought I took enough chances, I better just wait for seven strides and be a little bit safe there. So I did think I left the door open, but he was very quick for the rest and I couldn’t be happier with him. He didn’t touch a jump all week.”
On the jump-off:
“I tried to get him really opened up in the circle because I knew there was a forward eight strides from one to two, and I just tried to get a good gallop to the first jump. He really opened up nicely and the second jump looked far away to me in the eight strides and he jumped it great, and by meeting it forward he landed and was really forward across to the double and I saw a forward one coming in. I knew the double was going to get quite tight, and he gave a great effort there. He backed up fantastic on the out of the in and out. He landed quiet enough so I could spin right back on the liverpool, and I was able to catch that out of stride. I ran as quick as I could down to the oxer and then he met it deep; I didn’t even really have to pull on the reins. I just let off the gas a little so he would make a quick turn. He turned great going to the last line and I tried to kick to it. I was thinking of doing the six strides but he jumped so high over the pink oxer I thought I should play it safe and stuck with the seven strides. That’s where I thought someone could possibly catch me was the last line. I was thrilled with how he went.”
On looking ahead to the American Gold Cup:
“I’ve had lots of seconds, lots of thirds, so who knows. It will be a good class. There are a lot of good horse-and-rider combinations here, so you never know!”
Results – $137,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City CSI 3*
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / R1 Score / R1 Time / R2 Score / R2 Score
1. Margie Engle (USA ) & Royce / Gladewinds Partners LLC / 0 | 67.10 / 0 | 37.410
2. Beezie Madden (USA) & Chic Hin d’ Hyrencourt / Abigail Wexner / 0 | 67.48 / 0 | 37.460
3. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Alejandro / Seabrook LLC, Spy Coast Farm, Shane Sweetnam / 0 | 67.480 / 0 | 37.550
4. Adam Prudent (USA) & Baloutinue / Plain Bay Farm / 0 | 68.76 / 0 | 39.130
5. Alison Robitaille (USA) & Ginger Pop / Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone / 0 | 67.52 / 0 | 39.180
6. Beat Mändli (SUI) & Galan S / Grant Road Partners LLC / 0 | 70.560 / 0 | 39.840
7. Freddie Vazquez (PUR) & Kirschwasser SCF / Freddie Vazquez / 0 | 68.66 / 0 | 40.220
8. Bliss Heers(USA) & Antidote de Mars / USA / Bridgeside Farms LLC / 0 | 67.90 / 4 | 37.610
9. McLain Ward (USA) & Clinta / McLain Ward, Heller & Sagamore / 0 | 67.31 / 4 | 39.460
10. Lillie Keenan (USA) & Agana Van Het Gerendal Z / Chansonette Farm LLC / 0 | 66.61 / 4 | 41.720
11. Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA) & My Way / Santa Cecilia Stables LLC / 0 | 69.66 / 4 | 43.240
12. Spencer Smith (USA) & Ayade Hero Z / Ransome Rombauer / 0 | 66.88 / 8 | 40.740
Source: Press release by Elaine Wessel / Phelps Media Group for Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Elaine Wessel / Allysson Lagiovane Phelps Sports