Claudia Freeman and Dreamland Top $5,000 “Give A Buck” Large Pony Hunter Derby Classic
Pony hunters took to the grass field at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Friday to jump for ribbons and prize money in the $5,000 “Give A Buck” Large, Medium, and Small Pony Hunter Derby Classics. Beginning with large ponies, 17-year-old Claudia Freeman and Dreamland, owned by Linda Evans, took top call over 12 fellow competitors in the $5,000 “Give A Buck” Large Pony Hunter Derby Classic.
The top ten large ponies from the first round returned in the second round to determine the final placings. Freeman collected the best scores from both rounds, an 86 and an 89, for a total 175 and the win. Adam Edgar and Real Steel, owned by Brass Ring Farm Sales, were second on scores of 83 and 78 for a final of 161.
Hannah Hoch and her own Dreamsicle jumped to third with scores of 76 and 77 for a 153. Sophia Marino and All The Best, owned by Katherine Strauss, LLC placed fourth with a 147, while Edgar also rounded out the top five aboard Fox Creek’s Anthony Quinn, owned by Dianna Orona, with a total score of 144.
Freeman, who trains with Gary Duffy and the team at Little Brook Farm, is a regular competitor in the junior hunter divisions, but got the catch ride on Dreamland during WEF Week 9.
“I started riding him at Lake Placid and then here and there when his other rider isn’t available,” said Freeman. “I’m happy I got to compete today because I love this venue – it’s fun to be out on the grass because it’s so big that you can really gallop.”
Dreamland is no stranger to pony hunter derby successes after carrying Emma Kurtz to a fourth-place finish on the grass field in 2015 and a win in 2014.
“He’s a pretty straight-forward ride,” said Freeman. “He’s kind of ‘kick and go’ pony and has won so much because of it.”
Emily Aitken and Woodlands Stevie Ray Capture $5,000 “Give A Buck” Medium Pony Hunter Derby Classic
In the $5,000 “Give A Buck” Medium Pony Hunter Derby Classic, 12-year-old Emily Aitken scored first and third place ribbons. She and Woodlands Stevie Ray, owned by Hannah Bernstein, were welcomed into the winner’s circle. After earning an 85 in round one, Aitken and the pony she calls “Stevie” returned with the top 12 to post the highest second round score of 84 to take the win on a total of 169.
Aitken trains with Kristen Carollo and topped a field of 30 medium ponies with her victory. Kat Fuqua and her own Hillcrest Leading Lady claimed second place behind Aitken with scores of 83 and 81.5 for a 164.5 total. Aitken jumped to her third place honor in the irons of her own Cleverist with scores of 84 and 80 to finish a half point behind Fuqua on 164.
Hannah Hoch and her own Anisette finished fourth with a score of 163, and Farah Rizvi piloted Show Me Love, owned by Clear Ride, LLC, to fifth on a 160.
Aitken has had the ride on Woodlands Stevie Ray since September and admits she was battling some nerves earlier in the day on Friday.
“I was a little nervous, but mostly excited because I knew it was going to be fun,” she said. “I like how [Stevie] is very consistent and jumps really well. He is so much fun to ride.”
Aitken competed in the small pony hunter derby classic last year and has big plans for the three weeks that remain in the 2016 WEF season.
“I want to be winning on both my ponies [Woodlands Stevie Ray and Cleverist] by the end of WEF,” she said. “They are both really fun and good ponies.”
Kat Fuqua and Goldhill’s Arresting Charm Win $5,000 “Give A Buck” Small Pony Hunter Derby Classic
After her second place ribbon in the medium classic, Kat Fuqua bested 26 riders to win the $5,000 “Give A Buck” Small Pony Hunter Derby Classic with her own Goldhill’s Arresting Charm.
Fuqua boasted the top scores in both rounds with an 80 and 82 for a 162 total. Zayna Rizvi and Canterbrook Prince Charming, owned by Kathryn McCarthy, rode to second place with scores of 78 and 80.5 for a 158.5 total. Mia Green was third with Farmore State of the Art, owned by Nicole White, after scores of 76 and 81 landed them a 157.
Fourth place was presented to Kyla Sullivan and Secret Love, owned by Jill Shulman, on a 151, and Alexa Elle Lignelli rounded out the top five riding her own Rollingwoods Knee Deep to a 147.
Eight-year-old Fuqua trains with Jenna Weinfurt and only got the ride on Goldhill’s Arresting Charm a few months ago.
“He’s a new ride for me and he’s only six years old, but really easy,” said Fuqua. “He has a really big stride, and I liked riding him on the field today. We had a good day.”
With her “Give A Buck” Small Pony Hunter Derby Classic win behind her, Fuqua will now turn her attention to her next goals, which include pocketing some tricolor ribbons in pony competition over the next few weeks at WEF.