Wellington, FL – April 1, 2011 – It was an important day for hunters at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Sixty entries took their shot at a chance to compete in the $50,000 USHJA Hunter Derby, one of the biggest purses offered for hunter competitors in the world. The class began this afternoon in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring. With a large number of spectators standing by, each horse and rider combination took their turn over a course of eleven jumps, with four high option fences.
There were two teams of judges – Danny Robertshaw and Jim Clapperton (Panel 1 – tiebreaker), John Barker and Scott Williamson (Panel 2) – one team on either side of the ring. Each team of judges awarded a numerical score plus a bonus point for each high option fence that was jumped. The sum of the scores was given as each rider’s final score for the first round of competition.
Scott Stewart wasted no time getting down to business on the first of his six mounts in the class. Going fourth in the order, Stewart led the Fashion Farm’s entry Dedication to a combined score of 186, which was good enough to leave the pair in fourth overall going into tomorrow night. “Dedication is a First Year horse, who has been champion a few times here. He’s very scopey and very easy, but he just turned six, so he’s still pretty green. I was very happy with him,” beamed Stewart.
It wasn’t until Stewart went on the last of his six mounts that he secured the lead for round one of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Empire, an entry of Becky Gochman, left the crowd and the judges speechless as he exited the ring. Empire and Stewart secured a score of 94 plus 3 bonus points from the first pair of judges, and an 89.5 plus 3 bonus points from the second pair of judges, giving the winning duo a total score of 189.5 to take the class. “What made me decide to do it on him was a couple weeks ago I was schooling him out here, and we put the jumps up pretty high, and he just did it so easily,” Stewart explained about his decision to show the young Empire in the derby.
Adding a little icing to the cake, Victoria Colvin rode Stewart’s horse Inclusive to the third place ribbon after today’s first round class. The pair left the ring with a combined score of 186.
Stewart doesn’t anticipate any problems with tomorrow’s second round in the International Arena under the lights. “He was champion in World Hunter Rider Week out there, so hopefully he’ll be good tomorrow night,” smiled Stewart. “He’s just very brave.”
The course was comprised of natural looking obstacles, some which have not been used yet this winter in the hunter rings. Most contained some form of hedge, shrubbery, or wall as well. Stewart shared his views of today’s course. “I thought it was nice. I was a little worried about the brick wall at the end, but I don’t think anybody had too much trouble with that. The rest was really huntery and nice, I thought.”
With four high options throughout the course, most riders chose to do all or none of them. However, Stewart opted to do three high options, leaving out the first one. “The first high option was so early in the course, and it rode quite big away from the gate. I was afraid with most of my horses that they would try too hard and get playful, so I played it safe. The others were more inviting,” he explained.
Now that today’s course is history, riders have to look forward to tomorrow night’s course, which is sure to be even more impressive, with impressive jumps and a longer course. “Last year’s course was very huntery, nice, and flowing. I’m hoping this year’s will be the same thing, and just a fun class,” stated Stewart about his expectations for tomorrow night.
All of the riders in today’s qualifying round worked hard to make the top twenty-five, and now those riders have to work even harder to get a piece of tomorrow night’s very large purse. The $50,000 in prize money is a rarity in the hunter ring, and gives riders and owners the opportunity to take home a nice prize and some good recognition too. “I think it’s great,” said Stewart. “To be at night again is fabulous, and hopefully there will be good attendance.”
Join the crowd tomorrow night as the top 25 vie for the number one spot in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. For those that are away and unable to attend, the class will be aired live on the USEF Network at the following web address: http://www.usefnetwork.com/WEFDerby2011/.
Final Results: $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Round One
|PLACE||#||HORSE||RIDER||OWNER||PANEL 1||PANEL 2||BONUS||ROUND 1 TOTAL|
|1||2384||EMPIRE||SCOTT STEWART||GOCHMAN, BECKY||94||89.5||6||189.5|
|2||6238||JERSEY BOY||JENNIFER ALFANO||FARMS INC., SBS||90||90||8||188|
|3||2414||INCLUSIVE||VICTORIA COLVIN||STEWART, SCOTT||93||87||6||186|
|4||2396||DEDICATION||SCOTT STEWART||FARM, FASHION||88||92||6||186|
|5||3267||PRAISE||KELLEY FARMER||GLEFKE, DAVID||86||88||8||182|
|6||2915||ROCK STAR||LOUISE SERIO||BRIGHT STAR 158, LLC||87||85||8||180|
|7||6240||MISS LUCY||JENNIFER ALFANO||LENAHAN, HELEN||86.25||85.5||8||179.75|
|8||1225||SIENNA||PATRICIA GRIFFITH||MAOUNIS, LEXI||83||89||6||178|
|9||2217||SAILOR’S VALENTINE||HOLLY ORLANDO||FARM, WESTERLY||85||86||6||177|
|10||1205||DELOREAN||PATRICIA GRIFFITH||COLLINS, WENDY||85.5||84.5||6||176|
|11||418||SUMMER PLACE||MAGGIE JAYNE||LANE FARM, PONY||82.25||85.25||8||175.5|
|12||1511||THE SPECIALIST||KRISTY MCCORMACK||LIPKE, MEREDITH||84||82||6||172|
|13||6702||MONTAGUE||GARY YOUNG||GOLDSMITH, ISOBEL V||82.5||81.5||8||172|
|14||3090||GOGOL||LYMAN WHITEHEAD||FIORE, MAGGIE||82||84||6||172|
|15||5921||BASES LOADED||KELLEY FARMER||FREE, INC, AM||84||77||8||169|
|16||2426||CARLOS BOY||SCOTT STEWART||WEISMAN, ALEXA||80||80||8||168|
|17||406||FRANCESCA||MAGGIE JAYNE||LANE FARM, PONY||79||79.75||8||166.75|
|18||1512||SUNDANCE||KIM MC CORMACK||MC CORMACK, KIM||81.75||77.35||6||165.1|
|19||6311||COOPER||SCOTT STEWART||GREENE + FOUR WINDS FARM, TAYLOR||78||81||6||165|
|20||1332||GENEROUS||DAVID OLIYNYK||GAUDET, LORI||76.25||80.5||8||164.75|
|21||1145||COASTING||LAENA ROMOND||ENTERPRISES, INC., SHF||77||77.5||6||160.5|
|22||5256||ELON AF OSTRA HULT||MELISSA BARK||FARM LLC, ENTERPRISE||76||75||8||159|
|23||2931||LUXOR||TIFFANY CORNACCHIO-MORRISSEY||NIKKI CARR, SCNC INVESTMENTS &||74.5||78.5||6||159|
|24||2368||DECLARATION||SCOTT STEWART||FARM, FASHION||76||75.5||6||157.5|
|25||6009||ENSO||LILLIE KEENAN||FARM, HERITAGE||72||79.5||6||157.5|
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