Lexington, KY – August 19, 2011 – The day that riders, trainers, owners and spectators have been waiting for throughout the Kentucky Horse Shows Series has finally arrived. The 2011 $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals commenced this morning in the Rolex Stadium. Attendees could not have ordered a more perfect day with sunny skies and moderate temperatures to kick off the long anticipated event. This is the third annual USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals and it has returned to the Kentucky Horse Park. Scott Stewart and Carlos Boy won today’s class and Stewart placed in the top six with all of his mounts and is one of the top 25 horse and rider combinations to advance to tomorrow evening’s final event. Lillie Keenan took home the fourth and fifth place finish with Madison and C Coast Z, respectively.
This event was created to bring show hunters to the world stage, to increase spectators, media and sponsorship interest, and bring tradition and basic riding principles back to the sport of show hunters. It is an event that involves a 12-month qualifying period and only the top 75 horses are invited to compete for the championship title. Opening ceremonies began at eight this morning, and soon after the competition got underway with the qualifying round for all 59 horse and rider combinations in the Rolex Stadium. The judges panels were comprised of Scott Hofstetter and Otis Brown for panel one, Russell Frey and Julie Winkel for panel two, Carleton Brooks and Jimmy Torano for panel three, and Jim Clapperton and Mike Rosser for panel four.
Bobby Murphy and Patrick Rhodes designed the qualifying round course, the first of three courses in the finals. This Hunter Derby style course challenged riders over 12 fences ranging from 3’6″ to 4’0″. The course offered four optional obstacles that would add an additional point per fence to their base score due to their added heights and elevated difficulty. The fences being used throughout the weekend are reminiscent of those that would be found out on a hunting field. Obstacles on the course included oxers made up of natural posts, rails and white board fences, gates, hedges, hay bales, a brush, logs, and natural foliage.