Derby Friday took over the Stadium at World Equestrian Center — Ocala again this week with nearly 90 entries in the $20,000 WEC Hunter Derby 3’6″ – 3’9″, the $15,000 WEC Hunter Derby 3′ Open and the $15,000 WEC Hunter Derby 3′ Non Pro. The courses for today’s derbies were designed by Keith J. Bollotte and featured beautiful natural obstacles. Each course included four high options and handy courses offered several opportunities for inside turns.
Nineteen entries took to the Stadium for the $20,000 WEC Hunter Derby 3’6″-3’9″. Several entries earned scores into the 90s, but it was Samantha Schaefer and Madeline Schaefer’s In The Know (Arkansas x Cavelle) who earned top honors with a pair of scores in the 90s.
Samantha Schaefer and Madeline Schaefer’s In The Know (Arkansas x Cavelle) took to the course early in the order in the first round. Schaefer and the 11-year-old Warmblood gelding earned several blue ribbons in the Performance Hunters at the Winter Equestrian Festival just two weeks ago, preparing them well for tonight’s class. The duo set the standard for the class with a breathtaking first round, taking all four high options for a score of 91.
Christina Fisher and her own Levland (Levantos I x Olivia) also stood out in the first round of the $20,000 WEC Hunter Derby 3’6″-3’9″. Fisher and the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding regularly earn ribbons in the Amateur Owner Hunters and brought their A-game to tonight’s class. The pair delivered a consistent, rhythmic first round, taking one high option for a score of 84.
The winners of Week 1’s $20,000 WEC Hunter Derby 3’6″-3’9″, William Coleman and Jill Grant’s Tropics (Diarado), returned to the Stadium tonight in an attempt to claim another victory. Coleman and the 10-year-old eventer-turned-hunter found their groove in the first round, taking all four high options for a score of 85.
The course was adjusted and the top 12 entries returned for the second round. The handy course presented several opportunities for inside turns, which the majority of entries chose to incorporate into their rounds. Fisher and Levland returned near the bottom of the order, finding a second flawless round for a score of 92, bringing their overall total score to 176 and moving them into the top spot. Coleman and Tropics were next to return for the handy round. The pair jumped each fence with plenty of style and earned a score of 88.5, bringing their total score to 173.5, sliding in just behind Fisher. Last to return were Schaefer and In The Know. The pair’s partnership showed on course as they worked together seamlessly to find distances and inside turns. They earned a handy round score of 93, bringing their overall total to 184, sending them straight to first place.
Schaefer took a few minutes to chat with us after the class, “This is my first day at World Equestrian Center — Ocala and I would say that it has started off pretty good. In The Know is a horse that I’ve had a very long partnership with. I know him better than any horse that I’ve ever owned. I had an idea of what the first round would feel like and I thought he was really good. The atmosphere changed under the lights as it got dark, but he’s pretty seasoned, so it didn’t bother him.”
Schaefer gave us some insight on In The Know, “He technically belongs to my sister, Madeline. He was supposed to be her equitation horse. He started doing the International Derbies while he was doing that job and we all agreed that he likes the derbies more. He now occasionally does the High Performance and focuses on these kind of premier events. He’s one of those horses that typically does best under pressure. He shines when it’s most important. I like to say that he’s my quarterback, I can call on him.”
When asked about her business, Schaefer responded, “I work with my mom, Stacey Weiss, at Shadow Ridge Farm in Ocala, Florida. It was originally her business when I was a junior. I went to school at Baylor for a few years and rode as an amateur for a few years after that. It became time to take the next step. I work with Kate Conover, so Kate and I do all of the teaching.”
Schaefer also added, “The vibe here is pretty incredible. I’m excited for this winter. To have something like WEC in your backyard is incredible. To be able to come here and compete for great money, but also enjoy your time is amazing. The facility is incredible and every ring feels special in its own way. Everything is clean and the people are friendly, I haven’t found one negative thing! We’re really appreciative of everything WEC is doing for this town and the sport.”
$20,000 WEC Hunter Derby 3’6″-3’9″ Results
- In The Know, Samantha Schaefer – 91 | 93 | 184
- Levland, Christina Fisher – 84 | 92 | 176
- Tropics, William Coleman – 85 | 88.5 | 173.5
- High Life, Danielle Grice – 77.5 | 90 | 167.5
- MTM Lolah Lol, Dorrie Douglas – 88 | 78 | 166
- S&L Lion King, Dorrie Douglas – 77 | 88 | 165
- Foreolan, Casey McKissock – 75.5 | 85 | 160.5
- Emelia, Lauren Underhill – 81 | 79 | 160
- Capriati, Carly Campbell-Cooper – 78 | 81 | 159
- Cartel, Jeffrey Ayers – 79 | 77 | 156
All photos Courtesy Andrew Ryback Photography