Wellington, Fla. – March 31, 2018 – Margie Engle is one of the best equestrian athletes in the world and on Saturday night at the Winter Equestrian Festival she proved age is just a number when she concluded her 60th birthday with a win in the $500,000 Rolex CSI5* Grand Prix aboard Royce. The final grand prix of the 12-week circuit featured a six-horse jump-off, but it was veteran athlete Engle who turned in the fastest clear round of the night with her longtime partner Royce to lead the lap of honor in a sport where age and gender do not create any limits.
Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge built a large, technical 14-fence track for the night’s feature 5* event, which included a triple combination and an open water, and yielded just six clear rounds. Luiz Francisco de Azevedo of Brazil and Comic, owned by Santa Cecilia Stables, were the second to return for the jump-off and set the pace to beat when the left all the rails intact in a time of 42.52 seconds.
Ireland’s Conor Swail tried to best the Brazilian athlete’s effort aboard Rose Hill Farm’s Rubens LS La Silla, and while he was faster with a time of 40.17 seconds, the pair rolled a rail at one of the tall verticals to incur four faults and settle for third place.
Earlier in the evening, Engle was presented with the circuit’s Leading Lady Rider Award, showcasing her consistency throughout the season. She was not about to slow down her winning ways though, tackling the tiebreaking track with Gladewinds Farm’s Royce. She found the second and third fence out of stride and galloped quickly to the final oxer to break the beam in 39.35 seconds, easily taking over the lead to earn the biggest payday of the circuit with the night’s win.
Engle and Royce have been paired together for seven years and have worked closely to build a winning partnership, which includes dressage rides from Lisa Wilcox, trail rides and lots of turnout. Despite many broken bones over the years and even overcoming mono earlier this year, the hometown hero, who is originally from Miami, defied the odds and gave the crowd a night to remember with her outstanding victory.
The 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival officially comes to a close Sunday with the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, where the top 25 from the first round will compete on the derby field for winning honors.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Margie Engle – $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* champion
On winning on her birthday:
“Royce gave me a great birthday present today. It feels great. I saved him just for the five-star grand prix events. Unfortunately, I think it was week seven I got mono. So he got even a longer break. This is only I think his third week showing here. So he was plenty fresh. When everyone else is getting kind of tired, he was fresh. It worked out great.”
On competing and winning at 60 in a gender-equal sport:
“I’m 29 with a few years added. It’s how old you think you are in your head. My maturity level brings me down to a lower age. I think it’s just a number. I like that about this sport, where men and women can compete equally. It’s how well you and the horse perform together and how well you communicate. You’re really only as good as what you’re riding underneath you, but you have to keep them happy and have them wanting to do their job.”
On keeping Royce happy:
“Royce is basically a very happy guy. I think of him as like a big puppy. Everything goes in his mouth. He likes to play with everything. He gets his turnout time. I do a lot of trail riding with him. He does get worked. Lisa [Wilcox] works him hard with the dressage, but I try and alternate that with riding outside. I don’t do a lot of jumping with him. I try and keep him fit mainly on the flat and do different exercises to keep him interested. “
Luiz Francisco de Azevedo –$500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* reserve champion
On bringing his horse back this season:
“My feeling today is really, really unbelievable because I had a really good result also with this horse in the last season. But he had a little accident, and we had a long break. For sure he’s not on his best shape now because he’s just coming back after. But that shows me how special he is, because this is his second show after he was injured. He’s second in this grand prix just behind this unbelievable lady. So for me to – it’s a big victory for me.”
Conor Swail –$500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* third place
On riding Rubens again:
“I rode him last year and he was very successful here. Then we sold him to the Hymowitz family and I just got him back. This is my third show back with him. I’m very, very pleased with how quickly he has returned to top form. When you go a little quicker he just still isn’t just thinking quickly enough. I felt today a little bit when I went against the clock, it started to get a little – I felt that ‘oh we need to sort of try and coax him around.’ I’m really chuffed with how quickly he’s getting back into my program. It’s such a fabulous result to be third. This is the biggest week of WEF, so I’m thrilled with that. I talked her into winning also tonight, so it was a good night for both of us.”
$500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*
Place / Rider / Horse / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Margie Engle / Royce / 0| 75.47 / 0| 39.356
2. Luiz Fancisco De Azevedo / Comic / 0 | 80.65 / 0| 42.52
3. Conor Swail / Rubens LS La Silla / 0| 81.47 / 4| 40.179
4. Enrique Gonzalez / Chacna / 0| 80.57 / 4| 41.474
5. Ben Asselin / Cool Feeling / 0| 78.41 / 4| 43.093
6. McLain Ward / Hija Van Stokapelleken / 0| 79.2 / 12| 40.866
7. Santiago Lambre / Cetano Van Aspergem Z / 1| 82.12
8. Danielle Goldstein / Lizziemary / 4| 75.75