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Engle and Hough Still On Top after Trial #2 at the World Equestrian Games Selection Trials in Wellington, FL
Another day of summer temperatures, subtract the wind from yesterday and add better footing and what do you get…another fantastic day for Margie Engle and Lauren Hough. Engle and Hough were two of only four clean rounds, on another challenging Leopoldo Palacios-designed course, with only one total fault each at the end of day two. Today’s course consisted of 16 jumping efforts and a time allowed of 86 seconds. Engle took home top prize money today having the fastest no-fault round on Quervo Gold at 80.47 seconds.
Engle and Hough were both extremely impressed and happy with the way today’s course rode. “It just asked all the questions you need to ask,” said Hough. “It asked ridability, there was a question to the water jump, I did five [strides] on one horse and six on another. Leopoldo is an unbelievable course designer. There are subtle differences, but there are questions throughout the whole course. There isn’t one jump where you think, this is a gimme, I can take a deep breath here. You really have to be on your toes, and your horses have to try that extra little bit, and you have to ride that much better…I thought it was a super course. I had the opportunity to ride one horse earlier, she [Casadora] felt very good warming up, maybe a little bit more tired today, but she just tried so hard for me. I knew I was flirting with the time a little bit. I felt there were a couple of places where I took maybe a little more time than I needed to, but all that matters at this point was making it under the time allowed, so I am thrilled with the result today.”
All twenty-four horse-and-rider combinations were back for the second day of competition vying for one of the 10 spots on the short list for a chance to represent the United States at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, this August and the Samsung Super League in Europe this summer. Today’s results were a stark contrast to yesterday’s with one rider eliminated, one retired and only two with time faults compared to yesterday’s only three without time faults.
The four clear rounds, all within the allowed time, included Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, on Quervo Gold, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Wyndhurst Stables, Inc.; Lauren Hough of Wellington, FL, and Casadora, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Laura Mako; Molly Ashe of Wellington, FL, on Neuville, a 12-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Jane Clark; and Robin Sweely of Madison, VA, on Qarco V’T Merelsnest, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Acorn Hill Farm.
Quervo Gold’s high-kicking heels are just one of the gelding’s numerous attributes. “I was very happy with my day,” said Engle. “Quervo Gold has always felt like he was a really good horse and he’s very, very scopey, maybe not the quickest horse in the world but has a ton of scope and he’s really brave.” Quervo Gold is a relatively new horse for Engle. He came to her from near the Netherlands/German border just about a year ago. “I haven’t had the opportunity to show him that much so it’s kind of nice to be able to do a little more. I am getting to know him more as we go…I’ve always felt like the horse has a lot of scope. I know when you’re sitting on him you feel like you could canter down to a house….when you are jumping him you never feel like you are at the bottom of his scope….he’s totally brave. He’s probably one of the best water jumpers that I’ve ever sat on.”
With two straight days of temperatures nearing the 90 degree mark, the riders were paying extra attention to their mounts for good reason. “He [Quervo Gold] is finally starting to get acclimated to the heat a little better,” said Engle. “The heat might get to him. When he first came over here he had a little problem with the heat.”
With Hough’s horse Casadora coming off of a 105.4 temperature on Friday due to a viral infection, she had an added pressure. “I was most nervous about the first day, seeing how she would react after being sick for two days, and then I rode her this morning and she felt like her old self. I think a horse, sick or not sick, by the third day, they’re all going to be a little bit tired. Hopefully she has that extra bit of stamina to pull through for me.”
Engle and Hough are currently tied for first with one fault each. Tied for second with nine faults each are Nona Garson on Languster, Margie Engle on Hidden Creek’s Wapino, and Molly Ashe on Neuville. Six combinations from these trials will be placed on the short list, and they will be those with the fewest number of faults over the five trials. Four horse-and-rider combinations are chosen subjectively, two of the four have been selected, Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY and McLain Ward of Brewster, NY.