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The trail is the ultimate rival

Tevis Cup field includes 10 former champions and dozens that could contend for top spot
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Barbara White subscribes to a simple approach when it comes to successfully negotiating the 100-mile Western States Trail Ride. “Every mile is one you don’t have to do again,” she said of the ride better known as the Tevis Cup. The only problem is, White can’t keep herself from coming back year after year to take on the Western States Trail again. She will be riding Saturday with the hope of earning a record 30th silver buckle – the prize for riders who make the journey from Robie Park in Truckee to Auburn within 24 hours. Tevis Cup ride director Mike Pickett said a special 3,000-mile buckle has been designed in anticipation of White’s accomplishment and could be unveiled at Sunday’s awards ceremony. But before then, there’s 100 miles of dirt, rock and water to conquer. “I describe the trail as relentless,” said White, who is retired and lives in Scotts Valley with her husband. “It never gives in. The challenges keep changing as you go along. The first 25 miles are really demanding. The horses are pretty close together and it’s very technical. And then the canyons have a challenge of their own.” White joins a deep, talented field of 182 riders that includes many of the top names in endurance riding. There are 10 former Tevis Cup winners in the field, including several who have multiple titles to their credit. “It’s a very competitive field of top riders,” Pickett said. “There are a lot of former Tevis and Haggin Cup winners and a lot of former top-10 finishers. I think we should have a very exciting finish.” The Auburn-area will be well represented at the starting line at Robie Park Saturday morning. Auburn’s Hal Hall is seeking his 27th silver buckle and is always a threat for both the Tevis and Haggin Cups as he’s a three-time winner of each. The Tevis Cup is awarded to the first-place finisher while the Haggin Cup goes to the rider in the top 10 whose horse is judged most fit to continue riding at the conclusion. After receiving his 2,000-mile buckle in 2009, Greenwood’s Potato Richardson is back for more. He won the Tevis Cup in both 1998 and 2002. Greenwood’s Mark Engemann is riding well again this year after taking 10th place last summer. He won the Buck Meadows Boogie 75-mile ride in April. Another Greenwood rider, Becky Spencer, is also a talented competitor. She won the Tevis title in 2004, though her husband Engemann said she will be on her backup horse on Saturday and won’t likely be near the front of the pack. Engemann is riding a new horse — Home Run Derby P.G.A. — on Saturday. He’s not anticipating another top-10 finish, but he wouldn’t miss a chance to compete in the prestigious event. “It’s the best there is,” said Engemann, who owns a Western States Endurance Run buckle from 1999. “We went to Australia and people there know about Tevis. It’s got a mystique to it.” Engemann and Spencer rode in the Tom Qulity Gold Cup 100-mile ride Down Under earlier this month and borrowed horses from local riders there. They’ll return the favor on Saturday as Austrailan Duncan McLaughlin will ride one of their horses in Tevis. A couple of Nevadans bring in impressive riding resumes and could be Tevis Cup contenders. Dave Rabe, of Carson City leads the American Endurance Ride Conference points standings for the entire country this season. He’s got extra motivation as he seeks his 10th Tevis Cup finish. Karen Chaton, from Gardnerville, is second in the points standings in the West region. Both have ridden more than 1,000 miles in competition this year. Hydesville’s Joyce Sousa was honored with the AERC’s National 100-mile Award in 2009 for her performances throughout the year atop LV Integrity. The husband and wife duo of Jeremy and Heather Reynolds are back in the field. From the San Jose-area, the Reynolds have three Tevis and two Haggin Cups between them in just six rides. Virginian John Crandell has returned to Tevis. He rode to victory in 2006 and was second in 2007, when he won the Haggin Cup. Rachel Shackelford, who was the top junior rider last year at Tevis, will be riding on her own this year and has shown great form this year. She won the American River Classic 75-miler in April. There will be some tired folks wandering around the Gold Country Fairgrounds Sunday, but for the fortunate half that are able to make it 100 miles, the pain and stiffness will be a sweet feeling. “I used to say that after a ride it felt as if someone put me through a washing machine,” White said. “It affects every part of your body. But emotionally, if I finish and I’m proud of the horse’s condition, I’m elated.”