Junior Rider Bella Kay Wins $30,000 USHJA International Derby at Pin Oak II

Bella Kay & Symbolic win the USHJA International Derby. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Katy, Texas – March 30, 2019 – Week II of the 2019 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show is flying by as the week wraps up with big wins before the weekend.

The jumper ring shined during the first part of the week with the $10,000 1.45M Welcome Stake on Wednesday evening and the $25,000 Walter Oil & Gas Corp. Grand Prix and Bedoya Ringside Reception Thursday afternoon.

Jill Gafney & Jordan. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Jordan, ridden by Jill Gafney and owned by Freestyling Farms, LLC, took home the top honors in Wednesday’s 1.45M Welcome Stake.

Briley Koerner & Dante. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

BKS Horse Farms, LLC’s Dante with Faces of Pin Oak rider Briley Koerner finished 5th in the Welcome Stake, as well as winning the 1.45M Under 25 for the Welcome Stake.

Mathis Schwentker & NKH Caruso. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

NKH Caruso owned by NKH LLC and ridden by Mathis Schwentker were victorious in Thursday afternoon’s $25,000 Walter Oil & Gas Corp. Grand Prix while Vigo Du Levant, owned by L.O.O. LLC and ridden by Jaelynn Downing, rode to the top honors in the 1.45M Under 25 Grand Prix.

Jaelynn Downing & Vigo Du Levant. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Meanwhile, ‘Derby Day’ at Pin Oak 2019 Week II featured the Baggett Family $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Friday morning and the Walsh and Albert $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Friday afternoon accompanied by the Bluebonnet Feeds Margaritaville party.

Amidst light springtime showers on Friday morning, Kelley Buringa rode Bottom Line Equestrian, LLC’s Valentine to the win in the Baggett Family $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby.

Kelley Buringa & Valentine. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Valentine and Kelley led the class following the classic round with a score of 91. The pair remained consistent, scoring a 94 in their stellar handy round.

Kelley Buringa & Valentine. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“This was our first derby together. And we just had our very first class together last Thursday,” Kelley explained. “He was just spot on today. There was, of course, some pressure coming back on top, and I knew I had to make the inside turn to the trot fence since everyone else had done it. But he was right there with me every step of the way. It was a great feeling and a really fun class,” she continued.

Peter Pletcher & Hoopla. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Hoopla, ridden by Peter Pletcher and owned by Hollis Grace, took home the red ribbon in Friday morning’s National Derby while Jennifer Alfano and All Ferraris, LLC’s Enzo W took third. Brooke Brombach was the highest placing junior rider finishing in fifth place with scores of 88 in both the classic round and the handy round aboard Erica Moe’s Classico.

Classico & Brooke Brombach. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Friday afternoon’s $30,000 Walsh & Albert USHJA International Derby was run in the ‘Hunt and Go Format,’ newly offered at Pin Oak 2019. The Hunt and Go format is similar to a power and speed class in the jumper ring; all riders continue directly on to the handy round following their classic round without stopping or exiting the arena. This format is great news to riders of younger horses or those new to riding in derbies since all competitors proceed to the handy round rather than only the top 12 horses being called back. Friday’s Hunt and Go derby included a total of 14 fences, eight fences in the classic round and six in the handy. Riders were to pass through two standards following the end of the classic round to mark the beginning of the handy portion of the course.

Bella Kay & Symbolic. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

While spectators and exhibitors enjoyed the Bluebonnet Feeds Margaritaville party, amateur and junior competitors topped the field of 25 horses. Symbolic, owned and shown by junior rider Bella Kay, won the class scoring 348 points overall, following an impressive second place finish in the USHJA International Derby the week prior. MTM Do Right took second place with owner and amateur rider Didi Mackenzie while Miramar, ridden by amateur Isabella Littlejohn and owned by Nancy Littlejohn, took third.

When asked about her experience with the Hunt and Go format, Bella Kay joked, “I did a Hunt and Go derby once in Florida. I didn’t ride as well in that one, so the format wasn’t my favorite, but now I love it!”

Bella Kay & Symbolic. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“Actually, it’s nice because you don’t have time between rounds to overthink, but it can be hard to go so long. It helped that my horse gets excited and perks up when we start doing the handy turns, so it wasn’t as hard to keep going,” she continued.

“For me, today was really just about going around, being smooth, and doing our best. I was so happy when we were second in the International Derby last week, and I wasn’t expecting to be better than that, especially with how many professionals are here and how many incredible horses were in the class,” she said when asked about her win in the International Derby.

Bella Kay & Symbolic. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“[Symbolic] loves the derbies. They’re his favorite class. Well, no matter what class it is, he always goes wanting to win. He is definitely my once-in-a-lifetime horse. He always gives me 100%. No, actually it’s more like 200%.”

Bella purchased Symbolic three years ago to be a fun, confidence building mount. “This Thursday I will have had him three years. We got him to be a fun horse for me because the green pony I had at the time was not so fun. He has definitely taught me a lot and helped me build confidence. The win will be a great way to mark our anniversary,” she said.

For Symbolic and Bella Kay, this marks another milestone as it is Symbolic’s first International Derby win as well as Bella’s. The pair started doing International Derbies in the fall of 2017. They won a USHJA National Derby in Saugerties in 2017 but have never bested International Derby competition. “He came in second a few times with Kelly Farmer before I owned him but had never won. He was definitely a derby pro, but he had never had a derby win, so I’m very excited we could achieve this together,” Bella explained. Bella is also looking forward to riding Symbolic at the USHJA International Derby Finals in Kentucky later this year.

As Week II of Pin Oak 2019 enters the weekend, junior riders are looking forward to another fun weekend of showing while jumper riders and spectators are excited for Saturday’s big event – the Hildebrand Fund $30,000 Grand Prix and Avalon Advisors Ringside Gala.

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