Joe Fargis came to the $100,000 Upperville (Va.) Classic yesterday and conquered a 13-jump course that caused most in the field of 29 to fault early and often.

Fargis -- who already had registered a perfect round aboard Caucalis for owner-breeder Fred Graham of Orlean, Va. -- never flinched when his second ride floundered to his knees in mid-course. With a resolve born of decades of experience, the Middleburg resident helped Edgar 12 recover his footing, then rode to fourth place just behind three horses with no faults in the first round.

The tiebreaking jump-off, which featured Fargis, the 1986 double gold medal winner, 2003 Upperville Classic winner Aaron Vale and Margie Engle, provided interesting contrasts in style, and excitement for the crowd that covered Upperville's natural amphitheater.

Vale, who earned each of his four previous Upperville victories with deceptive ease and grace, went first and registered a knockdown at the light green, five-foot upright plank. Fargis, who at 6 feet 2 appeared to tower over his 16.2-hand black Selle Francais, registered the fastest time in the jump-off.

"It surprises me to still be riding and winning at my age," Fargis, 56, said. "I don't wake up each day thinking that in so many more wins or years that I'll quit.

"I just wake up happy each day with what I do [riding, showing and training horses and other riders] and will continue riding as long as that is true."