FEI Week at National Sunshine Series Begins; Margie Engle and Abunola Win $50,000 HITS Welcome Stake

THERMAL, CA (November 5, 2015): Show jumping’s biggest stars have converged at the National Sunshine Series at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. Riders will enjoy five days of FEI ranked competition at the west coast’s premier horse park, all leading up to the $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix FEI CSI-5* on Sunday, November 8 at 2 pm PST.

Day one was a good one for Margie Engle, of Wellington, Florida, and Abunola, owned by Elm Rock Partners, LLC, as the duo emerged victorious in the $50,000 HITS Welcome Stake. Engle bested a field of 38 contenders, including the likes of Eduardo Menezes, Rich Fellers, Will Simpson, for a $16,500 payday and will add another blue ribbon to the stack.

Of the sizeable round one, only 12 went clear to move on to the jump-off. Matthew Williams and Vallnski S, owned by Wyndmont, began the second round and ready to show their stuff, they zipped through the course clean, in a time of 40.78. The next three riders chased William’s time but it wasn’t until the fifth entry, Olympian Will Simpson, that the race to the top on. Riding Monarch International’s The Dude, Simpson cleared the course and clocked in at 40.18 for the lead.

Engle was ninth in the order and navigated her bay mount through the fences with precision, to a clear finish a full 2 seconds faster than Simpson, in a time of 37.97 for a spot at the top of the leaderboard.

Jonathan McCrea aboard Aristoteles V, owned by Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables, were next to give the jump-off a shot and that they did. McCrea had visons of the blue ribbon in mind as he made his way through the eight obstacles without fault, but clocked in at 40.59, just behind Simpson and bumping Williams to fourth.

Lauren Hough and Cornet 39, owned by Paris Sellon & Willow Grace Farm, received fifth place with a clean round in a time of 41.11.

International jumping competition continues in Thermal with Thursday’s $65,500 Sunshine Classic. Earlier this morning, HITS announced that the main event, the $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix FEI CSI-5* on Sunday, November 8, will be webcast live on HITS TV courtesy of presenting sponsors Purina Animal Nutrition and Pyranha. For more information on the webcast, please visit www.HitsShows.com

Place Horse Owner Rider Prize R.1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Abunola Elm Rock Partners, LLC Margie Engle $16,500 - - 37.97
2 The Dude Monarch International William Simpson $10,000 - - 40.18
3 Aristoteles V Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables Jonathan McCrea $7,500 - - 40.59
4 Valinski S  Wyndmont Matthew Williams $5,000 - - 40.78
5 Cornet 39 Paris Sellon & Willow Grace Farm Lauren Hough $3,000 - - 41.11
6 Wannick WH Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables Christine McCrea $2,250 - - 41.66
7 Gazelle  Kent Farrington LLC & Robin Parsky Kent Farrington $1,500 - 4 36.07
8 Belle Fleur 38 Belle Fleur 38 Kent Farrington $1,250 - 4 39.32
9 Catyspo  Signe Ostby Eric Navet $1,000 - 4 39.36
10 NKH Quanto NKH LLC Christian Heineking $1,000 - 4 41.27
11 Catalina Eduardo Menezes Eduardo Menezes $500 - 8 37.97
12 Quister  Abigail Wexner Beezie Madden $500 - 18 57.78

Margie Engle and Abunola on their way to a $50,000 HITS Welcome Stake FEI CSI-5* win at National Sunshine Series II in Thermal, California. 

About HITS, Inc.

HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the Village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York, and Virginia.

While hosting the richest weekend in show jumping at HITS-on-the-Hudson, HITS also formed the Triple Crown of Show Jumping. This includes the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, presented by MortgageCall, in Thermal, California, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix in Ocala, Florida and Canadian Pacific $1 Million Grand Prix FEI CSI-5*, presented by Wells Fargo, in Saugerties, New York.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS! Join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Media should contact the HITS Media Team at 845.246.8833 or e-mail media_info@HitsShows.com.