BURBANK, Calif.— On Saturday evening, Leslie Scharf’s Czechers (Shauna Pennell, trainer) topped the Gold Coast April (Apr. 5-7) USHJA National Hunter Derby with trainer Shauna Pennell in the irons. Spectators enjoyed a fun pizza party on the berm while the sun was setting over the ring, making for a lovely evening.
It was Leslie’s Scharf’s nine-year-old import from the Czech Republic, appropriately named Czechers, who proved his consistency and handiness. “Czechers has been second in several hunter derbies and it was so exciting that he won,” Leslie commented. “I’ve had him for about two years and he’s one of the most consistent and lovely horses. I am so lucky to have him.”
In the first round, fifteen horse and rider pairs navigated the course designed by Charles Throckmorton. “The biggest key in the hunter derbies is to allow riders to present their horses in the best possible light,” Charles explained. “This particular course had a little bit of a tougher track in the first round, and the riders did a really good job.”
In the handy round, all eyes were on LWMCajus (Leila Ward-Maroney, owner and rider) and Czechers who returned with top scores from the first round of 84 and 88, respectively. Leila piloted her flashy gray gelding to a second round score of 87 for a total of 171. “I imported him when he was five-years-old and now he’s about ten,” Leila said. “This was his first time back in the hunter ring in three years and my plan was just to have a positive round. He had been leased out to a jumper rider and then to a cross rail rider. He has the best attitude and loves to cuddle. I was very proud of him and happy with our rounds. I really enjoyed the class and the fun courses.”
Shauna returned to the ring last aboard Czechers and the crowd looked on with anticipation. She maintained a tidy track and made a bold roll back, impressing the judges and clinching the win with a second round score of 85 for an overall score of 173.
“In the handy round, I wanted to present options that allowed the experienced riders to show that inside-type turn while at the same time not putting the less experienced riders in over their heads,” course designer Charles said. “The handy round proved to be very technical and I thought Shauna rode it like a star. She chose a bold track and I wanted to give them the option to do something like that.”
Shauna decided to go big or go home, and her bravery paid off. “I was holding my breath the whole time,” Leslie explained. “We talked about a plan before they went into the handy round and we all decided to just go for it!”
Now that Shauna has won a Gold Coast USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard Czechers, she is now in contention for a $2,500 Gold Coast LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus. If Shauna wins a second derby with Czechers during the 2019 Gold Coast Series presented by Damoor’s Feed & Tack, Shauna will be earning a bonus check.
“Programs like the LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus are important because riders work so hard,” Leslie added. “Shauna has done so much, and I am so grateful. I love coming to Langer Shows because they are quality local shows with great incentives. I can’t wait to come back and hopefully Shauna will win the bonus check.”
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