Engle and Royce jump to a second win on Thursday. Ph. ESI
It’s not even the weekend and Margie Engle is already enjoying a smashing week out in the California desert at the National Sunshine Series II in Thermal, California. The East Coaster has made her travels to the West well worth it by picking up the first place checks in the opening pair FEI CSI5* open jumper classes.
On Wednesday, November 4th, Engle rode Abunola, a 10-year-old KWPN mare (Numero Uno x Voltaire) to the win in the $50,000 HITS Welcome Stake. Engle just began riding the Abunola, recently purchased by Elm Rock Partners, over the summer, and this marked her first win of the new partnership. A wide field of 12 pairs from the entry list of 38 jumped clear in Round 1 to move on to the jumpoff, but Engle set herself apart with a Round 2 time that was over two seconds faster than her closest competitor, Will Simpson & The Dude. Simpson finished 2nd and Jonathan McCrea came 3rd aboard Aristotles V.
Come Thursday, again 38 horse and rider pairs tacked up for the $65,000 Sunshine Classic CSI5*, the feature class of the day, and again Engle came out on top, this time with her longtime partner, the 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion Royce (Cafe au Lait x Grandilot).The fences were a bit taller and the track a bit tougher, resulting in a five-horse jumpoff. Kent Farrington also jumped clear in Round 1 with Uceko, but two time faults earned him a 6th place finish. Last week’s Sunshine Series I grand prix winners Rich Fellers and Flexible had one down in the jumpoff to place 5th, and Christine McCrea finished 4th with Win For Life.
Again, Jonathan McCrea proved to be a solid threat as he followed Engle in 2nd place, this time aboard Special Lux. Young up and comer Paris Sellon placed 3rd with Adare.
The open jumpers continue on Friday at the HITS Desert Horse Park with the $100,000 Coachelle Valley Classic, and Sunday brings the week’s finale event, the $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix CSI5*. If the week continues how it has started, the two riders to watch out for are already crystal clear. But with a full roster of international competitors on the heels of Engle and McCrea, anything can happen. . .
Top 12: $65,000 Sunshine Classic