Olympian Margie Engle and Elm Rock Partners LLC's Royce continued their domination of HITS-On-The-Hudson this weekend when they claimed their biggest victory to do date during the $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix on Sunday.
The pair posted a double clear effort to top the 27-horse field, racing to the top of the leader board by almost three seconds during the jump-off.
"Royce is still young, but he just keeps getting better and better," commented Engle of the eight-year-old Oldenburg stallion. "He's a very smart horse, and he's got all the quality and all the jump in the world. The rideability in between the jumps has gotten a lot better in the last month, so I am thrilled with the way he is coming along."
For the first round of the $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, Engle and Royce showed over a very technical track that included an open water and a difficult triple combination to a tall, skinny vertical. Only five horse and rider combinations advanced to the jump-off, with Engle in the final slot. She went for broke with the talented stallion, slicing turns and easily leaving each rail intact as the duo broke the beam in 44.717 to earn the winning prize and lead the victory gallop.
"Each time I've been trying to take a little bit more of a shot with him," explained Engle. "I didn't show him all week so he was nice and fresh. I knew the other ones had been quick, but I had the good position to go last and there were only five in the jump-off, so I figured I didn't have much to lose. He's turning quickly now and he's leaving strides out because he's got a very big step. He's starting to enjoy it and he's starting to figure out how to go fast."
Engle added, "He did one less stride from fences one to two, and he really sliced hard to second jump, which set me up nicely for the third jump and he was able to do one less stride there too. There was a long gallop to a center oxer and I took a shot there. I was glad I was sitting on Royce because he's got so much jump that he just did it easily."
Royce and Engle have only been partnered together since January, after Elm Rock Partners, LLC of Bronxville, NY, purchased him from Ljubov Kochetova of Russia. Sunday's victory comes just following a win in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix two weeks ago, and a third place finish in the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix last week. The pair is proving themselves at the top of the sport, and will now take a two-week rest before traveling to the Lake Placid Horse Show, and then returning to HITS-On-The-Hudson.
$100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix Results
1 Royce, Elm Rock LLC, Margie Engle
2 Sandor de la Pomme, The Wannahave Group, Darragh Kenny
3 Lincourt Gino, Monica Carrera, Peter Leone
4 Mark Q, Kevin Babington, Kevin Babington
5 Calantus, Fidelity Farms, Inc, Danielle Cooper
6 Polygraaf, Winsor Farm Sales, Inc., Bill Lowry
7 Merlin, Noel Love Gross, Jeffery Welles
8 Man In Black, Christina Gellos, Patricia Griffith
9 Aries, Noel Love Gross, Jeffery Welles
10 Timo, Cathy Gerhart, Kate Gerhart
11 Valentino, Mavis Spencer, Darragh Kenny
12 Aragon Rouet, Walstib Stables LLC, Meg O'Mara
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