Wellington, Fla.—April 1
When McLain Ward and Hija Van Strokapelleken ticked a rail in the jump-off for last night’s $500,000 Rolex CSI***** Grand Prix, giving Royce and Margie Engle the win, Engle’s supporters made a beeline to congratulate the combination waiting in the paddock. The fastest among them? Fellow competitors Lauren Hough and Laura Kraut.
While Hough and Kraut are good friends with Ward as well, they were ecstatic to congratulate Engle on her special win, which occurred on her birthday and as the now-60-year-old rider is wrapping up a bout with mononucleosis.
Hough, Kraut and Engle formed an especially strong bond when they rode together at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games along with Nona Garson.
“We’ve all been friends for such a long time, and I’ve known them forever. We kind of have built up a lot of camaraderie,” said Engle, of Wellington.
“We’ve all been on lots of teams together since then,” she continued. “Laura and I used to show at the same shows together before we were on teams, and we were together at Aachen at the [2006 World Equestrian Games (Germany)],”
Last night Engle was running a bit late for the course walk and didn’t get to study up on the jump-off, and Hough gave her some extra advice about how the track walked.
The three occasionally head over for game nights at Kraut’s home where they play Rummikub, Scrabble or backgammon.
“We have a lot of fun together,” said Engle. “There’s a lot of camaraderie between all of us [show jumpers].
“Nick [Skelton, Kraut’s partner] told me, ‘It’s your birthday—you have to win tonight,’ ” Engle recalled. “It was kind of funny. I texted back, ‘I’ll give it a go!’ That’s what I was thinking about when I was pulling in. And of course Royce gave me that great birthday present.”
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