Margie Engle Celebrates 60th Birthday as Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* Winner
“He’s always had raw talent, but the rideability was an issue. Now he’s riding great. He just feels like he’s getting better and better.”
Margie Engle’s small stature and the massive size of her mount Royce might sometimes seem at odds. But with increased focus over the last year on his flatwork with the help of dressage rider Lisa Wilcox, the 11-year-old KWPN stallion (Verdi x Heartbreaker) showed a new level of rideability in the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* to win the class as the only pair to break 40 seconds in the jumpoff.
The finale competition of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, USA on Saturday, March 31, 2018 was designed by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil, and other than three early clears before the first drag break, it was looking to be a thin jumpoff for most of the class.
But the final three riders in the order: Conor Swail, Engle and McLain, all jumped clear to raise the level of excitement and guarantee a fast jumpoff. While Luiz Francisco De Azevedo of Brazil jumped clear in the jumpoff with Comic, he and Engle were the only ones who managed a double clear night. De Azevedo would finish 2nd, and Ireland’s Conor Swail placed 3rd with Rubens LS La Silla was 3rd with one down in the jumpoff.
“Royce gave me a great birthday present today,” said Engle, who celebrated her 60th birthday. “It feels great. I saved him just for the five-star grand prixs. Unfortunately, I think it was week seven I got mono, so he got even a longer break. This is only his third week showing here, so he was plenty fresh. When everyone else is getting kind of tired, he was fresh.”