Margie Engle Goes All In to Win $138,600 Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel CSI3* Grand Prix

Margie Engle (USA) is an avid poker player, but her luck lately has been better in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring than in the poker room. After winning the $37,000 Limitless Performance CSI3* Speed Thursday during Traverse City Horse Shows (TCHS) Spring I, Engle and the Gladwinds Partners, LLC, entry Dicas brought their A game back to top the $138,600 Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel CSI3* Grand Prix Sunday afternoon.

The inaugural grand prix of the 2022 season was built for the occasion, but riders rose to the challenge, with seven entries jumping clear over the first-round track, set by 2016 Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA), including Engle on both her mounts.

Margie Engle (USA) and Dicas. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

Of the field of seven jump-off contenders, the pace just kept getting quicker as Gabriela Reutter (CHI), Freddie Vazquez (PUR), and Engle shaved precious seconds off the clock to claim the lead. Engle’s pressure got the best of most of the remaining pairs, and she was not able to catch her own leading time aboard her second mount, Jackofhearts, who placed fourth. Vazquez and Kircshwasser SCF claimed second place in a jump-off time of 42.38 seconds, while Reutter and Maharees Rock, owned by Lumiere Horses Inc., placed third in a time of 43.09 seconds.

“[Dicas] is just a good horse,” Engle said of the 2009 Rhinelander gelding (Diarado x Cassini I). “He has a wonderful heart. He’s a big horse but he’s like a puppy dog. He wants to crawl in your lap. He knows he’s big and when I go to put his bridle on he puts his head so low I don’t know if he’s making fun of me or trying to help. He doesn’t ride like a big horse; he’s very handy for as tall as he is. And he’s got a wonderful attitude.”

Second place, Freddie Vazquez (PUR) and Kirschwasser SCF. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

Though TCHS Spring I was Dicas’s week to shine, Engle also has younger mounts in the works that had a stellar week of competition. Cesna M placed third in the $37,000 Limitless Performance CSI3*peed, both horses jumped clear in the $37,000 CSI3* Welcome Stake, and Jackofhearts jumped to fourth in Sunday’s class. “© was ‘Jack’s’ first CSI3* Grand Prix and he was double clean. He’s really trying hard. Cesna is moving up and was third in the ranking class [Thursday], so he’s really stepping up. I’m trying to bring them along and get them to the top level. Hopefully I can take some pressure off my two that have gone for a while.”

While 17-year-old Royce has been Engle’s long-time top mount, Dicas is stepping up to share that coveted role quickly as he moves up in the ranks. “They’re both really dependable and you feel comfortable getting on both of them,” Engle remarked on her two rides. “When you walk the course there’s nothing they can’t jump. They have big hearts and they give everything they have when they walk into the ring. It’s a great feeling to have two nice horses like that to depend on.”

Third place, Gabriela Reutter (CHI) and Maharees Rock. ©Andrew Ryback Photography_GP_184

“It’s great having the Turtle Creek Casino so close, as well as all the restaurants that it has to offer,” she remarked on the fabulous venue just down the road. “The whole town of Traverse City is lovely.”

Until her next appearance at the Turtle Creek Casino, you can catch Engle playing poker with friends at the horse show and continuing to rack up placings and prize money throughout the spring and summer seasons at TCHS.

Final Results: $138,600 Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel CSI3* Grand Prix

1. DICAS: 2009 Rhinelander gelding by Diarado x Cassini I
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 0/0/41.98

2. KIRSCHWASSER SCF: 2010 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Amaretto D’Arco x Nabab De Reve
FREDDIE VAZQUEZ (PUR), Freddie Vazquez: 0/0/42.38

3. MAHAREES ROCK: 2010 Irish Sport Horse mare by OBOS Quality x Ballysimon
GABRIELA RUETTER (CHI), Lumiere Horses Inc: 0/0/43.09

4. JACKOFHEARTS: 2012 Danish Warmblood gelding by Toulon x Baloubet Du Rouet
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 0/0/43.54

5. HOLLERNO: 2012 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Baltic VDL x Ahorn
PETER LUTZ (USA), Lutz/Manfredi Show Jumping LLC: 0/0/43.76

6. PRIMO TROY: 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Clinton x VDL Arkansas
GIAVANNA RINALDI (USA), Itasca Group LLC: 0/4/41.71

7. IDOL H&H: 2013 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Action-Breaker x Glennridge
ANDREW WELLES (USA), Evergreen Stables, LLC: 0/4/44.15

8. FANTASY BB: 2010 Dutch Warmblood mare by Cardento x Labor’s VDL Indorado
JONATHAN MCCREA (USA), Windsor Show Stables: 4/80.77

9. DIOR P Z: 2011 Zangersheide gelding by Diarado x Havidoff
MICHAEL MORRISSEY (USA), Stephen Macken: 4/82.60

10. JULIETA: 2010 Holsteiner mare by Canstakko x Casall
CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Windsor Show Stables:

11. HAITIE: 2012 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Cayado 3 x Cassini II
SANDRA DALMAN (USA), Dalman Show Jumping: 4/85.08

12. MASSIMO: 2012 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Otangelo x Electro
MICHAEL MORRISSEY (USA), Imperial Show Stables: 8/83.81

Hunter Derby winners, Hilary Johnson and Copper Fox LLC’s Suede. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

​​Smooth Like Suede: Hillary Johnson Tops $5,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby

Temperatures dropped Sunday, but scores rose into the 90s for Hillary Johnson and Copper Fox, LLC’s Suede as they topped the $5,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby, the first of an exciting series of hunter highlights throughout the 2022 season.

Twenty-three entries came out for the occasion, each trying their hand over a first-round course in an attempt to snatch the top score and earn a spot in the handy round. Johnson, a professional rider and trainer at Meadowview Farm in Lowell, MI, took the ride on four of the 12 entries called back. It was Suede, an eight-year-old Westphalian gelding, who stood out above the rest, taking the third-highest score of 90 in round one and returning to earn a 94 in the handy round.

Hilary Johnson and Suede on-course. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

“He loves these classes,” Johnson remarked on Suede, the horse with which she previously won the $5,000 USHJA Traverse City Derby, presented by Perfect Products, on the final day of the 2021 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. “He does the First-Year Green Hunters too, but I love pulling him out for the derbies. He’s very funny and very brave. We don’t hand walk him in the ring or let him see anything; he just walks right in here and rises to the occasion. He enjoys doing the fun classes.”

Stunning jumping efforts, fluid movement, all four high options, and a flawless trot fence all sealed the deal for Suede and Johnson in the handy round. Their combined total of 184 held strong for the win as the final two entries couldn’t top her. Second place honors went to Johnson and Moonwalk, owned by Copper Fox, LLC, while Kelsey Epperson and Tulio, owned by LTG & Company, LLC, rounded out the top three.

Second place, Hillary Johnson and Moonwalk. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

Johnson and her team are looking forward to a full show season at TCHS. “We love it up here,” she continued. “It’s our favorite show of the year. This year we’re actually going to be here for the whole summer. Usually, we go home in August and do some other shows. We chose to stay this year. I’m really looking forward to setting up a home base.”

As for the rest of the season, TCHS is raising the bar with its popular incentive program with the $5,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby just scratching the surface. Hunter riders, owners, and trainers have the chance to enroll and qualify their horses for the Traverse City Hunter Finals and the Traverse City Hunter Derby Pro and Non-Pro Derby Finals, taking place at the close of the season during the Tournament of Champions from September 14-18. Johnson confirmed Suede will be in attendance for the Hunter and Derby Finals.

Third place, Kelsey Epperson and Tulio. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

“Last year we competed quite a few horses in [the Finals] and had a blast,” shared Johnson. “We’re looking forward to doing it this year as well and nominating our horses for the extra incentive. I’m really looking forward to September. Suede will definitely be there, so we’re getting some practice in here while we can.”

Final Results: $5,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby

1. Suede / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox, LLC / 90 + 94 = 184

2. Moonwalk / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox, LLC / 88.5 + 87.5 = 176

3. Tulio / Kelsey Epperson /  LTG & Company, LLC / 88 + 87.25 = 175.25

4. News For You / Christopher Coberley / Lissa Guyton / 82 + 93 = 175

5. G. Eleven / Jacob Pope / Donald Stewart / 87.5 + 87 = 174.5

6. Persistence / Roger Turner / Denise Short / 84 + 90 = 174

7. On Your Mark / Tiffany Morrissey / Lisa Berger / 89 + 84 = 173

8. Blue Monday / Hillary Johnson / Stephanie Battershall / 86.5 + 86 = 172.5

9. Aviator / Roger Turner / Denise Short / 83 + 89 = 172

10. Fountain Balou / Jacob Pope / Donald Balou / 92 + 79 = 171

11. Breathless / Hillary Johson / Sara Barnes / 87 + 82 = 169

12. Cullighan / Tiffany Morrissey / Claudia Millstone / 93 + 67 = 160