Holly Shepherd Dominates $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby During Equifest I

Holly Shepherd and Jerez Mail

Wayne, Ill. – July 27, 2018 – The highlight event of the day, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, began bright and early Friday morning at the Lamplight Equestrian Center with a large field of exhibitors in the Main Hunter Arena. Although the competition was tight, it was Holly Shepherd aboard Micaela Kennedy’s 6-year-old gelding Jerez Mail who took the top honors of the class and well-deserved victory gallop around the scenic arena.

Shepherd and Jerez Mail, who had been named champions in the Green 3’6″/3’9″ Hunter division the day before, impressed the judges early on with a score of 94 in their first round. They returned to the ring for their handy round to claim a score of 95, giving them their winning total 189 that would be unrivaled by other horse and rider combinations.

Holly Shepherd and Jerez Mail

Jerez Mail, an Argentine gelding who had been competing in the Pre-Green Hunter division last year, blew away the competition as a 5-year-old. When his owner decided to move him up into the Green Hunter division, Shepherd was given the ride on him in April to assist in his climb up the ranks. The gelding stepped up to the plate in the showring earlier this season, racking up ribbons, taking home division championships and now claiming his first derby victory.

Holly Shepherd and Jerez Mail

Shepherd also rode Loretta Patterson’s Triompf in the National Derby, earning a score of 92 in her first round aboard the gelding, and returning to the handy to receive a score of 94. The pair’s total of 186 landed them in second place. Dominating the top three placings, Shepherd rode the gelding Longstreet, owned by Barbara Risius, into third place. The combination was awarded a score of 87.5 in their first round and 91 in their second to give them a total of 178.5.

Competition at the 2018 Chicago Festival of the Horse will resume on Saturday, July 28, with this week’s highlight event, the $50,000 Prix de Lamplight set to kick off at 4 p.m. in the Grand Prix Arena.


Holly Shepherd – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Winner

On Jerez Mail:
“He’s a 6-year-old Argentine, I rode him as a pre-green horse last year and he won a lot. They stepped him up this year and I started riding him in April. We did a couple horse shows in Kentucky and he was still trying a bit too hard and couldn’t quite put things together. We went to Vermont a few weeks ago and he just started winning and he’s like, ‘Now I know how to do it!’ He won all four of his first year classes this week. He’s been amazing. Super fun, super elastic, one of the best jumpers I’ve ever ridden. Very easy and brave.”

On her rounds:
“I couldn’t really fault him anywhere, he wasn’t too fresh. This horse is super consistent to ride. He doesn’t go to sleep, he doesn’t wake up, he just goes the way he goes. For me, it’s just a super comfortable ride. Sometimes I’m like, ‘where do I go next?’ because he’s just so dreamy he almost puts you to sleep! He’s a lot of fun.”

Emma Sargent Takes Top Two in Junior/Amateur Owner 1.30m Jumpers at Equifest I

In the Grand Prix arena, Emma Sargent took top honors in the Junior/Amateur Owner 1.30m Jumpers. Sargent not only took first place aboard her own mount, Winchester, but also brought home the second place finish riding Didgeridoo.

Emma Sargent and Winchester

Sargent and Didgeridoo were the first horse and athlete combination to enter the ring, holding an early lead with a double clear finish and a jump-off in 30.721 seconds. Many that followed Sargent tried to match her quick pace, but she was able to maintain her lead until she was the second to last rider to enter the ring, this time on Winchester.

Sargent had a clear first round with Winchester, and her new goal would be to attempt to beat her own time. Sargent and Winchester narrowly pulled it off, finishing in 30.331 seconds, just one-third of a second faster than her original first place lead. Natalie Jayne and Ausi would round out the top three coming off of a jump-off time of 30.988 seconds.

Emma Sargent and Didgeridoo

Sargent, out of Kenilworth, IL, has been riding Winchester for over four years and the two have had great success in the show ring. Hayley Barnhill has been competing Didgeridoo for Sargent as a sale horse, but Sargent recently picked right back up with Didgeridoo two weeks ago after one of her newer horses got hurt. Sargent hasn’t missed a beat in the show ring, and was recently named Show Jumping Hall of Fame rider for the month of June.

In the Open 1.35m jumpers, Tracey Fenney and MTM Apple brought home another first place following their win in the Open 1.40m jumpers on Wednesday, July 25. The pair took the lead with a jump-off time of 39.564 seconds. Dorothy Douglas and MTM Maguire earned second place, and Hayley Barnhill rounded out the top three riding Quickborn 8, owned by Oakmont Stables LLC.

Competition at the 2018 Chicago Festival of the Horse will resume on Saturday, July 28, with this week’s highlight event, the $50,000 Prix de Lamplight set to kick off at 4 p.m. in the Grand Prix Arena.


Emma Sargent – Junior/Amateur Owner 1.30m winner

On the class:
“I thought the class was not too difficult, but it was challenging enough where you kind of had to stay on top of your horses a little bit. I went first on my horse Didgeridoo so I had to be the guinea pig! She jumped super the first round and I thought there were a couple of places in the jump off where I could make up some time and set the pace a little bit for the class. I went on inside track from one to two, which I think was a good option for them because if you caught that nice it set you up for a long gallop across the ring to the double on the side. Then I thought I made some good time there. I left the door open a little bit but I thought I could still be pretty close to the top. Then I went second to last with my horse Winchester, and I know her very well. I just followed my plan, stuck inside, galloped across and she left them all up and helped me out in some places!”

On Winchester:
“Winchester is probably one of my favorite horses. I don’t like to pick favorites but she’s like my right-hand woman. I’ve had her about 4 years now and she’s done pretty much everything with me. I have had a few new horses get added to my string so we decided to move her down a division because she’s getting a little older, and we like to keep her going and comfortable. She’s been doing the mediums and doing amazing. She’s super happy.”

On Didgeridoo:
“Didgeridoo is a horse that is for sale and I’ve had her for two years. One of my newer horses got hurt so I started to ride Didgeridoo again because Hayley Barnhill has been riding her to sell. To keep me more active in the riding world I started riding her again and she’s been going great ever since!”

On Lamplight:
“This is my fourth year showing here. I love coming here because it’s so convenient for myself living in Illinois. It’s really close and I get to drive home every night. I think the ring itself is beautiful, the jumps are beautiful and they take great care of it. I couldn’t be happier to be back!”