Wellington, FL – February 6, 2015 – An underdog rose to the top of the ranks today at The Ridge at Wellington’s second annual Hunter Derby Days. Mindset is the rising superstar of Rose Hill Farm, bought for Lilli Hymowitz to show in the Small Junior Hunter division, but today professional hunter rider Kelley Farmer captured the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby victory with consistent rounds and finesse on the turf derby field. Farmer and Mindset bested a field of top competitors, while David Oliynyk and Generous captured the second place and Brady Mitchell and Answer Me This finished third.
Kenneth Krome and Nick Granat of the United States captured the essence of a traditional hunt field as he transformed the turf Hunter Derby Field at the Ridge at Wellington into a challenging and beautifully set course. He utilized natural objects such as logs, brush and birch to set the scene, while challenging riders with a serpentine of obstacles. Set amidst the surrounding water and an array of palm trees, the top 12 riders had to traverse the technical second round course track while still earning valuable handy and high option points, adding crucial tallies to their already impressive score.
Out of a field of 22 horse and rider combinations, 12 would find their way into the challenging handy course, with Farmer and Mindful leading the way with a base score of 188 points. Returning in reverse order, each round showed handiness and accuracy with riders choosing inside turns, angles and strong hand gallops to impress judges Linda Andrisani, R. Scott Fitton, Mindy Minetto and Dee Thomas. It was Oliynyk who shined with veteran partner Generous, owned by Lori Gaudet. They earned seven points for their handiness through the course, and chose all four high options for a combined handy score of 194 points, jumping from seventh with the high scoring handy round to the second place position.
David Oliynyk and Generous
“It’s a wonderful venue. Being able to show out on the grass is so different than being at the show grounds,” Oliynyk said. “It is different to come and do and give the horses a different experience. We can to the second hunter derby last year, and we loved it so much we returned for this year. He has always been really good on the grass. He really hasn’t shown that much this year, this is his first show back.”
Oliynyk continued, “The first round he was a little spirited, but he settled down for the second round. He came back in beautifully and really felt like he was jumping well, it was fun to go
out there. I thought the courses were very fair and considering the amount of rain we had yesterday, the turf was great, they maintain it so well.”
Although Farmer led the standings coming back for the handy round, a mishap at the birch trot jump ultimately lost her one-two finish she was hoping for with Mindful.
“I am dumbfounded as to what happened at that trot jump,” Farmer laughed. “My bravest horse! He has jumped every course in North America. I don’t know if it was the birch or the background, but it was a good experience for us. We will practice with more birch logs at home and more distractions in the background. He has given so much though, that he owes
(photo: Kelley Farmer and Mindset rode to the top of the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Ridge at Wellington.)
It was Mindset who would stand in the limelight today for his two consistent rounds in the International Hunter Derby. The young gelding has only been in the United States for a little over two months, but he is already earning a name in the hunter ring, and now in the hunter derby competitions.
“What an amazing animal–they all are!” eventual winner Farmer exclaimed. “We bought him and then we sold him to Rose Hill Farm. Lilli Hymowitz has been showing him in the Younger Small Juniors and it looks like it is going to be a beautiful match. Ideally, he is for her, but since yesterday got scrapped with all of the rain, we thought it would be best to bring him out and show him here where he can have a good experience.”
Taking a more conservative approach to the first round, Farmer chose to only jump the low options, earning the first round score of 86 and 86.5 for a cumulative base score of 172.5 points. They returned for the handy round with a little more gusto, choosing two high options and adding seven handy points to their score for an 85 and an 81.
“I jumped all low in the first round since he is such a good jumper,” Farmer said. “I had to think about what he has to do tomorrow, I may have taken a different option, but I didn’t want to overdo him. I used my better judgment.”
Farmer continued, “He is brave, scopey and athletic. I thought he might do well out here, I thought he had a chance; it is great that he won. This field is tough with the water and how open the field is; the horses sometimes get lost out here. He is a fantastic horse, and I am lucky enough that I still have the opportunity to ride him.”
Oliynyk would finish second with a combined score of 349 points, 12 points off of Farmer’s winning total. Brady Mitchell and Answer Me This, owned by Phoebe Weseley, took home the third place finish with a final score of 330 points.
Farmer described the courses saying, “It was enough course for a young horse. This field is great! They take great care of it, and it rides nicely. I thought they built beautifully, it looks nice, and it was hard enough but still allowed riders to have the option.”
(Brady Mitchell and Answer Me This)
Chad Keenum and High Five captured the fourth place with a score of 329 points, while Evan Coluccio and Rarity finished fifth, just a point behind. Peter Wylde and Candor rounded out the top six with a cumulative score of 328 points.
Earlier in the day, riders from across the country traveled to compete in the first of two USHJA National Hunter Derbies, offered as part of The Ridge at Wellington’s Turf Tour Series: Hunter Derby Days. The day kicked off with perfect conditions under sunny skies at The Ridge at Wellington, where the picturesque facility provided an incredible backdrop. The conclusion of the National Derby saw Dexter at the top of the ribbons, ridden by Peter Pletcher for Hollis Hughes Grace. Pletcher finished the day with a score of 356. Bringing home the second place prize was Coltrane, ridden by Dotti Barnwell Areson for Karle Rudy with a score of 324.5.
A total of 24 entries traveled back to the era of the traditional hunt courses and tried their hand at the National Hunter course, also designed by Krome and Granat. The Ridge’s beautiful all-weather sand arena was filled with exquisite jumps complete with all the finery one would expect from a top-tier competition.
Krome and Granat’s course required accuracy and finesse in order to garner top scores. Riders began over a single vertical on the diagonal, then continued to the options of either the outside line as low fences, or a bending line on the inside track for high options. The course continued to a one stride. Next the riders were presented with the same high or low questions mirrored on the other side of the ring. They continued through the turn to the other combination on the course and concluded over a single oxer on the way home.
Dexter earned an 87 and 88 for a combined score of 175 in the first round to lead the class going into the handy. Dotti Barnwell Areson and Coltrane presented a beautiful picture, garnering a 152.5 from the judges to finish second. Santinero, with Marissa Damone in the irons, floated around the ring and completed the first round with scores that totaled 152. Olivia Notman scripted a lovely course with Signature to finish with a combined score of 159 in the first round.
Twelve entries continued on to the Handy Round. The shortened course challenged the riders, with several questions being asked, including with a trot fence across the ring to an oxer option. In the handy, Pletcher took all of the high options to add 4 to each of his scores of 87 and 86, to conclude with an overall score of 356. Coltrane added an impressive 172 to his original tally to total at 324.5. Santinero’s handy round also wowed the judges with a score of 168.5 to wrap up with a cumulative score of 320.5 points. Signature added his own flourish to the course to add 161 to the first round and finish on 320 points, only half a point behind third place.
(photo: Peter Pletcher and Dexter, winners of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at The Ridge at Wellington.)
In the world of hunter derbies, The Ridge at Wellington provides an exhilarating opportunity for riders of all levels. As a stand-alone derby day, the national and international classes are fully dedicated to showcasing and perfecting the derby classes with ideal turf that rivals the traditional fox hunting fields, reveling in the sport and athleticism of the horse.
The Ridge at Wellington is a premiere state-of-the-art facility that offers the best of the equestrian sports with varying competition levels. Their shows offer a wide array of classes, as well as generous prize money and sponsorship opportunities. Located only two miles from the prestigious Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the Ridge at Wellington offers one of the most centrally located horse shows in Wellington. The Hunter Derby days provided unparalleled hospitality for exhibitors and owners, with a breakfast and lunch spread that impressed. Dover Saddlery generously sponsors all coolers and banners for the 2015 Wellington Turf Tour.
If you missed your chance to ride for the first Hunter Derby Days of the Wellington Turf Tour, there is no need to worry. The USHJA National and International Hunter Derbies will return to The Ridge at Wellington on Friday, March 20, 2015.
The prize list for the hunter derby is available here.