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Margie Engle And Hidden Creek’s Perin Claim Victory In $100,000 Budweiser AGA National Championship Presented By Chesapeake Petroleum At 120th National Horse Show

WELLINGTON, FL – November 30, 2003 – Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, riding Hidden Creek’s Perin won the $100,000 Budweiser AGA National Championship Presented By Chesapeake Petroleum today, wrapping up the 120th National Horse Show in Wellington, FL. It was Engle’s third time to claim victory in the Championship, and the second time aboard Perin. “The other times that I’ve won it, I haven’t had to go fast,” said Engle, noting that in Perin’s previous win he was the only double clear, and when she won it with Hidden Creek’s Laurel, she was the only one clean in round one, which eliminated a jump-off. Of this year’s track, Engle said, “It was tough enough, not as big as some years, but it was still plenty big. Sometimes it’s almost impossible.”

In a field of 20 starters, six horses went clean over the 13-jump round one course designed by Jose Gamarra. This year’s Championship format allowed the top eight to return for the jump-off, which enabled Jimmy Torano aboard Gibson, who had no jumping faults but one time fault, and Candice King riding Gosse D’Orion, the fastest four-faulter to join a stellar roster in the tiebreaking round: Judy Garofalo with Oliver III; Alison Firestone aboard Casanova; Tracy Fenney riding Grace; Todd Minikus and Gardenio; Aaron Vale aboard Picasso; and Engle.

Going second in the order, Firestone of Upperville, VA, aboard Casanova owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, was the first to post a clear round and set the pace at 39.50 seconds, but her lead did not hold and she finished in second place. All of the other riders had one knockdown incurring four faults, with three of them – Minikus, Vale and Torano – having the last rail fall on the six-jump short course to the audible groan of the standing room only crowd in the 7500-capacity Internationale Arena. Minikus, of Loxahatchee, FL, who went fourth in the order aboard Gardenio owned by YZ Partners, posted the fastest time in the jump-off – he shaved almost three seconds off Firestone’s time, crossing the timers in 36.75 seconds, but the four-fault knockdown cost him the win and he placed third.

Last to go in the jump-off, Margie Engle aboard her Sydney Olympic mount Hidden Creek’s Perin posted a clean trip in 37.52 seconds, almost two seconds faster than Firestone to claim the victory to the cheers of an appreciative crowd. The victory marked eight-time AGA Champion Engle’s 125th career grand prix win.

“My horse is really good at galloping. He’s a big horse and he actually jumps well out of the gallop,” said Engle. She said she rode the first five jumps like a steeplechaser. “I figured I had nothing to lose so I took a real shot and he just gave me everything he had. He was so fast in the beginning he was leaving out strides everywhere.” She slowed up only at the last jump. “It was tall and plain, it was just a bunch of rails, nothing to make them look and set up to it. Horses tend to get a little nonchalant at jumps like that and sort of look through it. I just tried to angle it a little bit to surprise him.”

Hidden Creek’s Perin is a 13-year-old Westfalen stallion that Engle has been riding since the Selection Trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. “He’s a fantastic horse. He’s been in the money in every class he’s been in this year, and that includes World Cup Finals, Pan Am Games, Spruce Meadows, Nations Cup – every time he’s been in the ring. I’ve never had a horse that’s been that consistent. He’s been 100% in the money.”

Owner Mike Pulaski of Hidden Creek Farms was present for the win and participated in the awards ceremony. He said, “It was really gratifying” to see Engle win with her top horse. He credited all of the staff that works with the horse, especially the grooms. “We have a really good team. A nice team.”

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