Rimpoche and Bert Mutch Top the USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Woodside Spring Classic

Hugh "Bert" Mutch and Rimpoche (Claire Archer, owner) Photo Credit: Grand Pix

Woodside, Calif.– Langer Equestrian Group was proud to host the first of three USHJA International Hunter Derbies this year on Thursday afternoon at the Woodside Spring Classic (May 1-5).

Rimpoche ridden by Hugh “Bert” Mutch sealed the win in the Woodside Spring Classic USHJA International Hunter Derby with an unbeatable handy round. Bert has been riding Rimpoche for the past five years for owner Claire Archer and trainer John M. Charlebois.

“We certainly saw some top-quality trips,” one of the judges, Catherine Robinson, commented. “Bert laid down a very professional trip and it would have been hard to beat him in the handy round. For inside turns, you need to be planning ahead of time. It was clear that Bert had a plan laid out in his head and he executed it very well.”

In the first round, Carol Wright rode Liberty (Shannon Jones, owner/Diane Yeager, trainer) to a top score of 176, ten points ahead of Rimpoche with a score of 166. Stephen Pellett and Marisa Metzger, both previous winners of Woodside USHJA National Hunter Derbies, earned scores of 158 and 159 respectively. Meanwhile, last year’s Woodside Spring Classic USHJA International Hunter Derby winner Lulavani ridden by Sami Milo laid down a very solid trip.

“Sami Milo’s horse is really nice and she’s won a lot of derbies,” Bert mentioned. “Last year in this class, I went up against Sami and Lulavani. I was riding Hendrix (Alexa Lallos, owner/ John M. Charlebois, trainer) and we were second because Lulavani was so handy and Hendrix was still young.”

In the handy round, Bert gave it his all and his plan worked out well. “It came down to who was the handiest,” Bert said. “Because of this horse’s equitation background, he is very handy. He did his job and was a very good boy. We received maximum handy points from both panels of judges. When it comes to being handy, my own experience in equitation and jumpers helps me and I thrive on that skill.” 

Hugh “Bert” Mutch and Rimpoche (Claire Archer, owner) Photo Credit: Grand Pix

Course designer Scott Alder agreed that Bert’s handy trip was simply unbeatable. “There were some tight options for the more experienced horses and riders and Bert nailed all of the inside options, and he did them beautifully,” Scott said. “The course worked out great. I found the course that fit the field, and the ring and the footing are great.”

Scott’s course design allowed riders to be as handy as they wanted to be. “I think Scott Alder did a great job building for both derbies,” said Catherine. “In the handy round of the International Derby, he left plenty of options and the lines were inviting. Scott tested just enough to give the riders options and opportunities to stand out while still allowing some to take a more conservative track. There were many places to turn inside and gallop up, but if you rode more conservatively the courses still had a nice flow.”

Bert took advantage of the many handy options within the course. “This course was challenging because you had to be accurate, especially jumping into the bending lines,” Bert said. “It was a good handy course with plenty of options that were all different. There was a lot of pressure, but it was a fun class that was very competitive. There were top professionals, many past derby winners, and even junior riders who stepped up and rode very well.”

Bert’s long-time relationship with Rimpoche allowed him to trust the horse and ride a bold track. “I know this horse very well, so I tried to be smooth while riding a little bit tighter on some turns than most people. I also sliced and diced my way to the trot jump. It felt like everything just came together. It always feels good to win, especially in a nice venue with competitive horses. I really appreciate that Langer Equestrian Group puts on quality International Hunter Derbies here in Northern California.” 

Join LEG for another USHJA International Hunter Derby later this month at the Memorial Day Classic (May 23-26) at Hansen Dam Horse Park and at the Woodside Summer Circuit Opener (June 19-23).

Stay tuned for upcoming news about the Woodside Spring Classic $25,000 Regional Standard Grand Prix and additional highlights from this week.

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