Mary Lisa Leffler of Brookeville, Maryland had quite a weekend! Friday started out with her winning the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Nalley Toyota Stonecrest, with Headlines, and Sunday she and Bling Bling shined in the $25,000 CWD, presented by EMO, when they took the win to close out the second week of the Atlanta Spring Classic.
Five advanced to the jump off on a course designed by Paul Jewel of Lambertville, New Jersey, who set the time allowed at 47 seconds.
Jason Berry of Staunton, Virginia, in the irons of Varios, winner of the Week I Horseflight Welcome, was first to go in the order. They went clear and posted a time of 43.926 seconds and set the new time to beat.
Paul Macrae of Alpharetta, Georgia, riding Darragh Kerin’s Corini, also went clear in the jump off, but their time of 44.501 would see the pair finish in fourth place overall.
Erin McGuire of Cornelius, North Carolina and her own Kasarr followed Macrae and posted a clear second round in a time of 43.854 which temporarily took the lead.
Leffler and Rolling Acres’ Bling Bling were next to go, and posted a clear round in a time of 42.987 seconds which took the lead.
Berry returned to the Olympic Arena, this time in the irons of Sandra Masur’s Luca Toni. A rail at the first fence and eight time faults for a total of 12 faults in a time of 53.606 would see them finish in fifth place overall and leave Leffler and Bling Bling with the win.
“The time in the first round was tight, so you really had to make your round a little neater. Time wasn’t an issue in the jump off. The lines were technical, so you had to think ahead,” commented Leffler. “I did an eight where everyone was doing a seven, so I could make a tighter turn and then galloped to the last fence because my horse is really fast,” she said.
“I just got Bling Bling in January,” said Leffler. “She’s a nine year old mare we bought from Hans Bings Stables in Holland,” she said. “Bling is a lot of fun. I showed her in one of the Ocala Grand Prix and got a second, but this is her first win,” she added.
Considering the Georgia International Horse Park installed all new footing last year, Leffler commented, “The footing was good and held really well,” she added. “And the footing in the big Oval Ring for the big Hunter Derby was excellent,” commented Leffler. “We got so much rain the night before the Derby that I didn’t even know if we could show,” she said. “I went early in the order and the footing held really well,” she added. Leffler and Headlines won the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Nalley Toyota Stonecrest.
Final placings had Aida Sanchez Long and Katie Barnette’s Catalyst finish in sixth place with one time fault in their first round in a time of 83.028. Amanda Forte of Glenmoore, Pennsylvania and Cerulean Stables, LLC’s HHS Louis finished in seventh place after posting a time of 83.651 seconds, which earned them one time fault.
Kris Killam of Naples, Florida returned for both eighth and ninth places with Helene Jones’ Skyfall after turning in a four fault first round in a time of 75.488 seconds and Mandy Killam’s Black Diamond after an eight fault first round in a time of 77.576 seconds. Leffler returned for tenth place with Rolling Acres’ Carlot, and Jennifer Ramsey of Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada finished in eleventh place with Ronda Stavisky’s Diablo D’esquelmes after earning eight jump faults in a time of 82.242 seconds.
Leffler is returning home to Rolling Acres in Brookeville, Maryland. “It was a great opportunity to ride these horses we’ve been showing for twelve weeks and I’m going to take the next three off then start showing again,” she said. “It was a long twelve weeks,” she laughed.
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