Michael Leon true champion in $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby with True Enough
Proving once again he’s king of the derby ring, Michael Leon closed out Week II of the Atlanta Summer Classic with a win in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby aboard Kelly Sims’ True Enough.
Leon, of Marietta, Georgia, and True Enough were one of 12 contenders to put their riding skills to the test in the Oval Ring at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia.
The duo smoothly moved across the classic hunter component of the derby, finishing the first round with a tally of 161.5 points. Sitting in fourth position moving into the handy round, Leon and True Enough made up for lost points, achieving a handy round score of 188 points. The duo finished the competition with an overall total of 349.5 points — five points ahead of the runner up.
Caroline Willard, of Oak Ridge, North Carolina, ranked second for her performance in the saddle of Tara Dow-Rein’s Baron de Ley. The pair posted a classic round score of 155.5 points, before achieving a handy round score of 189 points — the highest in the class. Willard finished the event with an overall score of 344.5 points.
Leon returned to the ring to pick up the prize for third place, this time for his performance aboard another of Sims’ horses, Eleventh Hour. Their classic hunter round garnered them 166 points — landing them in first place after the first round. A handy score of 175 points gave the pair an overall total of 341.5 points.
Fourth place was presented to Lindsay Maxwell, of St. Simons Island, Georgia, who was aboard Hyperion Stud LLC’s Claas 16. For their first round, the duo ranked third for their score of 162 points. A score of 179 points in the handy hunter component earned them a total of 341 points.
Camryn Halley, of Oviedo, Florida, ranked fifth for her two rounds in the saddle of Laura Barrett-Gurtis’ I’ll Say JSF. Halley piloted to a classic round tally of 160.5 points, followed by a handy round score of 173 points. Halley finished the competition with an overall score of 333.5 points.
Ranking sixth was Jennifer Tate of Bourne, Massachusetts. Tate guided Barbara Kravetz’ Carsten S to an overall tally of 332 points. Seventh place was awarded to Carolyn Bell, of Alpharetta, Georgia, who was riding Eleese Shillingford’s Odyssey. The duo ended the event with an overall score of 304 points.
Eighth position was earned by Kara Jones, of Cornelius, North Carolina, for her two rounds with her own Chello. Jones achieved a grand tally of 279 points. Melissa Blades, of Cary, North Carolina, ranked ninth for her 259-point score with Cheyenne Sickle’s Jethro. Ranking tenth was Leon, this time aboard his own Celano. The duo posted an overall total of 233 points. Eleventh place was presented to Geoffrey Hesslink, of Shelburne, Vermont, who earned a 204-point score with Lindsay Maxwell’s High Society. Nicki Mathen, of Austin, Texas, rounded out the top 12 for her overall score of 199 with CopperhillSportHorseSales.com’s Dior Flying CH.
Payard and Erin Clayton victorious in $3,000 Classic Hunter Derby
Only a single point separated the top two contenders in Friday’s $3,000 Classic Hunter Derby during Week II of the Atlanta Summer Classic. In the end, it was Erin Clayton who was crowned champion for her two rounds aboard Payard.
Twenty competitors tackled the two derby rounds set across the Oval Ring at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia. But no one accomplished the task at hand as well as Clayton, of Zionsville, Indiana.
Clayton was in the irons of Kaitlyn Smith’s Payard, an 8-year-old Holsteiner. Together the pair chalked up a classic round score of 82.5 points, before returning to the ring for the handy component. They wove and battled their way through the winding second round, achieving a score of 84.5 points. The duo finished the competition with an overall tally of 167 points.
“The courses offered challenges, but I never worry too much about that horse, Payard always rises to the occasion,” Clayton remarked. “In the two years I’ve ridden him, I’ve come to know him well. So I knew the places on course that played to his strengths, and knew the places on course where I would have to ride to accommodate some of his weaker areas. It was nice to get this win — I’m quite happy with (Payard).”
Payard has been matched with Clayton since his baby green days. In their two years together, Clayton said the horse has always risen to the questions asked of him.
“Payard doesn’t do anything fast, but he always gives his best effort,” she said with a laugh.
A regular on the Classic Company circuit, Clayton said she’s always happy to come and compete at such a well-managed horse show.
“The Classic Company puts on the most exhibitor friendly horse shows,” she said. “Whether it’s supporting the competitors or making improvements to the footing — which is fantastic — it’s a great experience to come to such a well-run, well-managed horse show.”
Hot on the tails of the winners was Williston, Florida’s Meredith Martin, who was aboard her own Odessa. The pair rode their classic round to a score of 82 points, followed by a handy round score of 84 points. Their tally of 166 points landed the duo in second place.
Ranking third was Daniel Geitner, of Aiken, South Carolina, who was riding Hilary Baylor’s Naddel. Geitner piloted Naddel to an 84-point first round, before earning 80.5 points for their attempt at the handy course. They ended the class with an overall score of 164.5 points.
Fourth place was awarded to Beverly Hills, California’s Lindsay Maxwell, who was in the irons of her own Conspiracy. The pair posted a classic round score of 83.5 points, and rode to a handy score of 79.5 points, for a total score of 163 points. Maxwell also went home $500 richer after securing the Classic Hunter Derby High Non-Pro Bonus.
Ranking fifth was Michael Leon, of Marietta, Georgia, who was in the tack of Kelly Sims’ Transparency. Leon guided Transparency to 77.5 points in the classic component, followed by an 85 point ride in the handy round. The pair ended the class with a grand tally of 162.5 points.
Taking home the prize for sixth place was Sorrento, Florida’s Megan All, who was in the saddle of her own Confidential. All piloted her horse to an overall score of 160 points, and also left the ring with the $500 Classic Hunter Derby Low Non-Pro Bonus.
Clayton returned to the ring to pick up the prize for seventh place. She guided Walkabout Investments LLC’s Walkabout’s Neptune to an overall score of 159.5 points. Jennifer Tate, of Bourne, Massachusetts, ranked eighth for her 159 point performance aboard Barbara Kravetz’ Caspari. Ninth place was awarded to Caroline Willard, of Oak Ridge, North Carolina, who was riding Alex Stevens’ Sky Pilot. The duo finished the class with a tally of 157.5 points. Wellington, Florida’s Tricia Barr rode Rodney Bross’ Big Girls Don’t Cry to tenth position with a score of 157 points. Barr also took home the $300.00 Low Non-Pro Bonus.
Ranking eleventh was All, this time with Falcon Ridge Stables’ Cameo. The pair ended the class with 148 points, as well as the $300 High Non-Pro Bonus. Rounding out the Top 12 finishers was Oviedo, Florida’s Laura Barrett-Gurtis who guided Suzanne Lemons’ Content to an overall score of 146 points.
Jillian Minahan, of Milton, Georgia, took home the $200 Low Non-Pro Bonus for her ride aboard her own Joie de Vivre. Camryn Halley, of Oviedo, Florida, was awarded the $200 High Non-Pro Bonus for her performance with Valerie Vogel’s Always.