The Derby Field at Equestrian Village once again hosted a variety of hunter fences on the morning of Saturday, March 9, during the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival. Seventy top hunter horse-and-rider combinations contested Andy Christiansen Jr.’s first course for the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Classic. Riders were split into the professional category, where Havens Schatt took the lead, and the junior/amateur category, won by Sofia Roberts.
Hunter veterans Sissy Wickes and Tucker Ericson made up the judge’s panel to determine which riders would have scores high enough to return for the handy portion. When all trips were completed, a total of 24 entries made up of 12 junior/amateur combinations and 12 professional combinations were asked to return for the second round.
Of the 12 that returned to the field in the junior/amateur section, only a total of nine combinations were able to complete the second phase as Rosemary Mulholland, Erika Jakobson, and Coco Fath all suffered unfortunate refusals. Michael Baum and Conway rounded out the top three junior/amateurs heading into the second round on a score of 85.00 points but, with a slight disturbance following the trot fence, would give up their third-place position to Meredith Lipke and For Love. Lipke and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Argentinus x Sanne Z) turned their first round score of 84.00 points into a second round score of 87.00 points and rounded out the top three with a total of 171.00 points. Chloe White and Virginia Langloss’s Game Face were the penultimate combination to return on a first round score of 85.50 points. She and the 10-year-old Warmblood gelding then earned a second round score of 91.00 points for a second place finish on 176.50 points.
Maintaining a steady score of 89.00 points in both rounds, junior competitor Sofia Roberts and Small Gesture bested the field of 31 junior/amateur combinations with a grand total of 178.00 overall points. She and the Roberts Stables, LLC’s nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Catoki x Vedua) made their debut in Wellington this season after having never previously shown at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“I’ve had him for about three years, and he was my first junior hunter,” Roberts explained. “I’ve done some derbies with him before in Kentucky and at the World Equestrian Center in Ohio, but we’ve never competed on a grass terrain before or at WEF. We are really enjoying it and don’t want to leave!”
“The first round today was pretty straightforward and really nice to ride,” she continued, “but in the second course we really focused on the bending line from the first to the second fence because it is sort of a blind turn.”
Jeff Gogul, one of Roberts’s trainers, duplicated her repeat scores of 89.00 in the professional division to claim the third place aboard Roaring Brook LLC’s nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding Counselor and had a total of 178.00 points. Hunter veteran Peter Pletcher took the reserve honors in the section with the eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Lordanos x Lady Silvana), Entourage. Pletcher and the Legado Farms, LLC’s gelding pinned the highest first-round score of 91.00 points and would secure 89.00 points in the second round to end on 180.00 total.
On only a half-point lead, Havens Schatt and Caroline Moran’s Happy Thought happily rode to victory with scores of 89.50 and 91.00 landing them on 180.50 points.
“I only bought him a year and a half ago, but Havens had picked him out for another client of hers before, so he was already in our barn,” Moran explained of her seven-year-old Warmblood gelding (Colman x Peggy Lee). “He had a bout of illness but Havens has been so patient with him, and he has really come back to surprise us all.”
“This is the first year we’ve actually campaigned him,” Schatt added. “He’s been playing around in the pre-greens a little bit but his first time in a derby was at Deeridge last week and he ended up second. He seems to do well on the grass, and I thought the courses today were challenging enough to give the horses some things to look at while still being rather inviting to the rider.”
Competition for Week 9 of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival will come to a close on Sunday, March 10, and will feature both the $72,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic and the $50,000 Griffis Residential Grand Prix in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Final Results: $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Horse, Rider, Owner
Round 1 score, Round 2 score | Final
1 Small Gesture, Sofia Roberts, Roberts Stables, LLC
89.00, 89.00 | 178.00
2 Game Face, Chloe White, Virginia Langloss
85.50, 91.00 | 176.50
3 For Love, Meredith Lipke, Meredith Lipke
84.00, 87.00 | 171.00
4 Privateer, Kelley Corrigan, Kelley Corrigan
83.00, 87.00 | 170.00
5 Golden Dream, Gigi Moynihan, Christy Johnson
78.00, 85.00 | 163.00
6 Aiden, John Yozell, John Yozell
77.00, 84.00 | 161.00
7 Cassius, Sandra Epstein, Sandra Epstein
75.00, 78.00 | 153.00
8 Conway, Michael Baum, DP Racing
85.00, 67.00 | 152.00
9 Eleventh Hour, Meredith Lipke, Meredith Lipke
76.00, 72.00 | 148.00
1 Happy Thought, Havens Schatt, Caroline Moran
89.50, 91.00 |180.50
2 Entourage, Peter Pletcher, Legado Farms, LLC
91.00, 89.00 |180.00
3 Counselor, Jeff Gogul, Roaring Brook LLC
89.00, 89.00 |178.00
4 Generous, David Oliynyk, Lori Gaudet
88.50, 88.50 | 177.00
5 Rockaway, Molly Sewell, Cynthia Chaconas
86.25, 90.00 |176.25
6 My December, Peter Pletcher, Legado Farms, LLC
88.25, 86.00 |174.25
7 No Doubt, Molly Sewell, Elizabeth Phillips
86.50, 86.00 | 172.50
8 Salt Creek, Havens Schatt, Havens Schatt
86.00, 85.00 | 171.00
9 Clockwork, Havens Schatt, Cece Williams
88.75, 81.00 |169.75
10 Maverick, Jeff Gogul, Roberts Stables, LLC
90.00, 77.00 | 167.00
11 Quickborn 7, Heather Caristo-Williams, Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Caristo
88.00, 76.00 | 164.00
12 In Time, Rush Weeden, Glory Days Farm, LLC
87.00, 72.00 | 159.00
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