Samantha Cooper Concludes Week I of Brandywine with $10,000 USHJA International Derby Win

Samantha Cooper and Nandino. Photo: Anne Gittins Photography

Devon, Pa. – July 3, 2018 – The first week of the Brandywine Horse Show series concluded on Sunday, July 1. Samantha Cooper aboard Ellen Malson’s Nandino captured the top honors during the week’s feature class, the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Second place went to Dominique Damico riding Nemesis 11, owned by Ramble on Farm. Rounding out the top three was Samantha Schaefer and In The Know, owned by Madeline Schaefer.

The $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby also took place on Sunday, and the class split the junior/amateur and professional groups. Samantha Schaefer and Nino Nacho, owned by Morgan Kazerman, came out on top in the professional group. Lauren Reid topped the junior/amateur section aboard Oxford, owned by Capstone Farm LLC.

The Amateur Owner divisions concluded Saturday, and Katie McVeigh took home the Grand Amateur Owner 3’6″ championship aboard her mount Goyard. In the Amateur Owner 3’3″ Hunter, Stephanie Danhakl rode Starina B to the grand championship title.

Katie Mc Veigh and Goyard. Photo: Anne Gittins Photography

In the Junior Hunters, grand championship awards were given at both the 3’6″ and 3’3″ height. Emma Kurtz rode Betsee Parker’s A Million Reasons to the 3’6″ championship, while Caroline Ratigan rode her own Trust to the 3’3″ championship. The Grand Junior Owner award was earned by Caroline Ratigan and Trust.

Olivia Markmann rode Ken Berkley’s Gynhafan Red Kestral to the Grand Regular Pony Hunter Championship.The Grand Children’s Hunter Pony Championship was awarded to Jacqueline Zhai aboard Redwood Forest owned by Sage Hill Farm. In the jumper ring, there was a three way tie for the Grand Jumper Championship, with top honors being given to Elenor Kunsman and Escape, Adrienne Marciano and Laspari, and Ellie Ferrigno and I Dottori VD Richter.

Olivia Markmann and Gynhafan Red Kestral. Photo: Anne Gittins Photography

Many special awards were presented to horse show participants throughout Week I, including the Bill Rube Style Award which was awarded to Tina Allen. Leah Julian received the Braider Award, and the Romeo Sullivan Memorial Sportsmanship award was presented to Karen Caristo. The Leading Hunter Trainer for Week I of Brandywine was Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley with River’s Edge Farm. Samantha Kratz won the Jumper Grooms class.

Samantha Kratz wins Jumper Grooms award. Photo: Anne Gittins Photography

Brandywine competitors will return to the ring Wednesday, July 4, to kick off Week II. For more information on the Brandywine Horse Shows, please visit


Samantha Cooper – $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby winner

On her win
“I really enjoyed the course – it was our first time doing a hunt and go too, so that was a different format that we haven’t experienced before. I appreciated it because it was so hot, to have the horses be able to get in and be done. I thought the course asked some good questions and gave the riders some flexibility to make some choices for what they thought their horse needed. I enjoyed the course and I was obviously thrilled to win it. It’s this horse’s first win and we’ve had him since he was 4, so it’s nice to be able to see him through from almost the beginning. To be able to have this win is great.”

On Nandino
“His name is Turtle, and he’s a little bit like Dennis the Menace. He’s always into something. I’ve ridden him for the last six years, and he’s been really successful, but sometimes I felt like he would get bored. So when we started doing derbies he got a lot better. In a period of three years I had two kids, so it was a bit of a bummer because he qualified for derby finals twice and we didn’t get to go. It was a little bit rough because I obviously wanted to start a family, but I thought it wasn’t really good timing with him. I felt like I was leaving him in the middle of his prime but he’s actually come back better than ever and seems to be on another level of maturity. He’s physically been ready – he did his first derby when he was 5 or 6 and he just wasn’t ready for it mentally. He was always game and he would jump out of his skin, he just wasn’t mature enough for it. This year, I think he’s really ready to have his head in the game.”

On showing at Brandywine
“I’m from Cleveland, so it was our first time at Brandywine and we loved the horse show. We always loved Devon so it’s nice to have another show at those grounds. We actually came home after derby because Cleveland starts in two days, but we’ll be back next year. We really enjoyed the show and we thought it was run great and it’s a nice smaller venue. A lot of the shows we’ve been too have been so massive and it’s nice to be in a more quaint environment.”