Molly Ashe Cawley and Kennzo topped the 39 horse field to win the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Horse Shows by the Bay. Photo courtesy of Tricia Booker.
Traverse City, MI – July 24, 2013 – Molly Ashe Cawley and Kennzo rode away with the victory in the $20,000 USJHA International Hunter Derby at Horse Shows by the Bay on July 19, marking just one highlight of an extremely successful week for Norfield Stables LLC.
Ashe and the talented 11-year-old Finnish Warmblood gelding finished the first round of the hunter derby securely in second place in the competitive 39 horse field, heading into the handy round just behind Kelley Farmer and Mythical.
Last year in the same class, Ashe also came back in second place for the handy round, but last year she was personally disappointed with how she rode it. This year, she came back ready to redeem herself.
“From the first round to the second round, [Molly] came in the ring and galloped the first jump and didn’t take a couple of cautious jumps and start to get comfortable with the course, which I think separated her in both rounds. She showed us right from the beginning that she was trying to win, which she ended up doing,” judge Chris Wynne commented.
“This year was a great handy round,” Ashe shared. “There were two options for inside turns – one that I didn’t even look at when we walked the course and the other that I saw but wasn’t really excited about. It was a bit of a nasty inside turn.”
Ashe continued: “Kelley [Farmer] went back in the handy round on her first horse, and she took the two inside turns like they were nobody’s business. So then I started thinking, ‘do I have to do that turn to win?’ but my other big consideration was that at the second inside turn you were also supposed to be hand galloping from one oxer to the next. If you were trying to slip inside that turn it really takes away from your hand gallop, so I decided to opt out of that one.”
Ashe’s smart riding and decision to avoid the inside turns helped Kennzo to deliver a stellar performance, earning them a combined two round total score of 370, moving them easily in to the lead but with Farmer and Mythical still to return. Farmer knew that she’d have to pull out all the stops in order to top Ashe’s score, but unfortunately the second sharp turn that Ashe had avoided proved to be the downfall for Mythical, guaranteeing the well-deserved victory for Ashe and Kennzo.
“I was really, really happy with Kennzo. I thought he was great; he was really on the money,” Ashe exclaimed. “He was just very spot on that day.”
With Ashe at the reins, Kennzo, owned by Kristen Abbatiello-Neff, has consistently proven to be a top derby mount with wins at numerous derbies including the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the 2012 Hampton Classic and the $20,000 Holiday & Horses USHJA International Hunter Derby in Wellington, FL. Most recently he and Ashe took the top call in the $5,000 New England Hunter Derby at the Fairfield County Hunt Club, just weeks after Ashe underwent back surgery.
Following her surgery, Ashe was quickly back in full-force, not only in her own riding but also in coaching other riders to the top of the leaderboard. Among the gifted pupils from Norfield Stables LLC, which Ashe runs alongside Chris Cawley and Timmy Kees, is Francesca Dildabanian. Under the Norfield Stables tutelage, 11-year-old Didlabanian and her pony Pride racked up the blue ribbons in Michigan, winning the $1,000 Horse Shows by the Bay Pony Hunter Classic, the Large Pony Hunter Championship and the Grand Pony Hunter Championship.
Ashe said of Pride, a 9-year-old, Welsh-Thoroughbred cross, “He’s really, really a great pony. I love him. He’s that classic, old-fashioned, Thoroughbred-y type. He has a beautiful jump, big stride – he’s just an all-around great pony. With Franki in the saddle, they’re just a great pair.”
Norfield Stables LLC’s success during week three of the Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival was not limited to the hunter ring. In the jumpers, Ashe rode Lincourt Gino, owned by Monica Carrera, to a blue ribbon in the $1,500 1.35m Jumpers. Lincourt Gino then returned to the ring with Carrera to earn another blue ribbon, this time in the $750 Low Jr/A-O Jumpers. Also in the Low Jr/A-O Jumpers, Ashley Prusak and her mount Rabin rode to back-to-back second place finishes, earning them the division reserve championship. Keeping it in the family, Jamie Prusak placed well in every class of the Low Adult Jumper division aboard Waldo De Kalvarie, while Ashley Prusak’s sister Samantha Prusak made her High Jr/A-O Jumper debut on Goed Zo.
“The horse went beautifully, and it looks like they have a promising future in the High Jumpers,” Ashe said of Samantha Prusak and Goed Zo.
Rounding out Norfield’s success in the jumper ring was Olivia Jack on both of her mounts, Valdez and Executive Privilege 3e. She and Executive Privilege 3e rode away with a blue ribbon in the $1,250 1.30m Jumpers, while just one light brush of rail kept her and Valdez from the blue ribbon in the $5,000 Low Junior/A-O Jumper Classic.
“She had the best time by about six seconds, but then just had the very last rail down in the jump-off,” said Ashe. “Otherwise they had a great ride.”
Finally, in addition to Ashe’s win in the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, she finished ninth in the class with newly turned hunter, Original Du Rietz, or “Ritz,” owned by Elisee Browchuk.
“Ritz had been competing as a jumper with Elisee, and he just became a hunter last week. This was his derby debut, and he was really, really great,” Ashe enthused. “He just did a flying change going to the last single oxer in the handy round. If we hadn’t lost that lead I think we would have ended up third or fourth. He was just super. He’s really a cute horse.”
Ashe concluded, “Everybody had a great week, and we’re looking forward to showing in week four. It’s a fun show so everyone’s really enjoying being here for a few weeks.”
Norfield Stables LLC returns today for the fourth and final week of competition at Horse Shows by the Bay. To learn more about Norfield Stables LLC, find them on Facebook here.
About Norfield Stables LLC
Norfield Stables LLC is a full service hunter/jumper facility run by Molly Ashe Cawley, Chris Cawley and Timmy Kees. Ashe is an accomplished show hunter rider who joined the grand prix tour in the late ’90s. In 1999, Ashe captured her first major grand prix victory during the $50,000 Grand Prix of Lake Placid aboard Rosewood Glen Ltd. Resolute. Since then, Ashe has won awards throughout Europe and the United States. With over 25 years’ experience on the “A” horse show circuit, Kees is one of the country’s most prominent hunter/equitation trainers. His riders have won the ASPCA Maclay, AHSA Medal and USET Equitation Finals a total of seven times. Kees has also trained hunters such as Holy Smoke, Watership Down, So No Wonder, Castaway and Double Cinco to championships at Devon, Harrisburg, Washington and New York. He is an USEF “R” judge and conducts clinics throughout the country. For more information, please email email@example.com.
Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International